IT’S a troubling picture. A woman sits next to the corpse of a dead animal. There’s blood seeping from the animal’s neck. There’s a smile on the woman’s face. But this is not the notorious snapshot of the American hunter Larysa Switlyk with a dead goat – it’s a picture of a woman on the Invercauld estate in the Cairngorms with a dead deer. But has Twitter ever been shocked by this other woman with a dead animal? No. Did the First Minister order an investigation? No. Because that’s what happens when we start talking about animals. We all get a little bit hypocritical.

If you want to see the picture of the other woman in the Cairngorms for yourself, and find out more about the kind of hunting that goes on there, you can take a look at, and I urge you to do so because it underlines what actually happens in Scotland and the ludicrous nature of the reaction to Larysa Switlyk. People hunt in Scotland. And they take pictures of themselves doing it and always have done, so why were we so apparently shocked by Ms Switlyk? Was it the army-style fatigues she was wearing? Or the fact she was an American having the audacity to shoot Scottish animals? Or was it just that we judged her killing to be a little bit vulgar?

I suspect at least some of the outrage of the last few days can be explained by these factors – in the age of Trump, Ms Switlyk’s behaviour felt like the kind of culturally-dumb American brazenness her president displays – but almost all of the Scottish reaction to her stank of hypocrisy. The chances are that most of those tweeting their outrage are meat-eaters, which makes their shock hard to take. A goat is killed on an island and a cow is killed in an abattoir. What, exactly, is the difference, other than the fact that one is public and the other is hidden? Alex Hogg, the chairman of the Scottish Gamekeepers Association, put it rather well in his reaction to the Islay furore. What, he asked, makes one type of killing different from another?

The reaction of the Scottish Government to all of this was also inconsistent. The First Minister (a carnivore who’s fond of bacon sandwiches) said on Twitter that she understood why the images from Islay were upsetting; she also said her government would consider whether there should be a change to the law.

But what kind of change exactly? A change so that Americans cannot take pictures of themselves doing something that’s legal? More than that: people like Ms Switlyk are doing something that is supported by the Scottish Government itself: feral goats are killed on properties owned by Scottish Natural Heritage, which is a government agency. In other words, the Government is making money from the thing that Nicola Sturgeon was offended by in her tweet.

Mike Russell, the MSP whose constituency includes Islay, was guilty of the same inconsistency. “If this is actually happening on Islay,” he said, “and laid on by some sort of tour company, I would want to see it stopped immediately.” But this is the man who supports the culling of deer; he must also know tour companies offer all kinds of trips to Scotland to kill deer and other animals. If you fancy three days on South Uist in January, for example, killing woodcock, snipe, and geese, then all you need is £5,390 and it’s all yours.

I see no signs either of any fundamental changes to the Government’s overall approach to animals. It continues to permit the killing of seals to protect the economic interests of fish farms, for instance. I was also speaking to Francesa Osowska, the chief executive of Scottish Natural Heritage, recently and there was no sign from her of any of the outrage at culls that Ms Sturgeon and Mr Russell have suddenly developed.

In fact, when I asked her about it, Ms Osowska even defended the culling of wild hares which, despite being a protected species, are being legally killed in huge numbers. Some reports this year have suggested that the population of wild hares in the eastern Scottish Highlands is now down to one per cent of what it was more than 60 years ago. And yet still the Government and its agency Scottish Natural Heritage allow the culling to go on.

They have also failed to act on the reason the wild hares are being killed in the first place: grouse moors. Ministers may be publicly appalled by the death of a goat on Islay, but what are they doing about the moorlands in Scotland devoted to grouse shooting? Heather is burnt, which causes peat to disintegrate and release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, and predators are killed on a huge scale, and all of it for the most trivial of reasons: to allow rich people to kill things. And yet the Scottish Government has given not one solitary sign of a willingness to do anything about it.

The Government is also not doing enough to tackle wildlife crime. The link with grouse shooting is hard to prove, although you can draw your own conclusions from the fact that where there is no driven grouse shooting, the hen harrier thrives. And almost everyone I’ve spoken to about this – lawyers, gamekeepers, animal campaigners and the police officer in charge of wildlife crime in Scotland – agree that we have a problem. The legislation is perfectly fine and strong enough, but it’s the detection and enforcement that’s weak, largely because we do not have enough officers tackling the subject.

I think most animal lovers would prefer to see the Government doing something about that problem rather than tweeting their outrage at an American woman killing goats. Couldn’t the Government also start a serious conversation about a ban on driven grouse shooting, or show proper support for rewilding, which would reduce – or even remove – the need for culling?

Whatever it does, the Government should at least try to be less contradictory. I don’t like that picture of Larysa Switlyk with the dead goat, or the one of the other woman with the dead deer – they appal me. But at least Larysa Switlyk can boast of something which many of her critics lack: moral consistency.