TODAY   |  January 18, 2014

Man who paid 350K to hunt rhino gets death threats

The man who made the winning bid last weekend to hunt an endangered African rhino is receiving death threats from people on Facebook, and now has full-time security. NBC’s Charles Hadlock reports.

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>>> may remember that auction we told you about that was auctioning off the chance to hunt an endangered african rhino. well, the man who made the winning bid of $350,000 now says he has full-time security for him and for his family because he's received death threats since winning that auction. charles hadlock has our update.

>> reporter: professional hunter corey noton may feel a little bit like the hunted. an avid outdoorsman with a hunting consortium and co-host of a hunting show on the outdoor channel , nolton placed the winning bid for a permit to hunt a rare, black rhino in africa, all in the name of conservation. since then, his facebook page has exploded with death threats and anger. one poster said, "i can only hope that some day, somehow, a beautiful wild animal will cut your life short and hang you on a trophy wall." another said, "donate the money and let the rhino live." nolton says he's hired 24-hour security, and the fbi confirms it's investigating the threats.

>> i don't think i should be hated because i lead my life a certain way.

>> reporter: he told piers morgan on cnn he fears for his family's safety.

>> i had no idea that it would be this visceral. i had no idea that they would be attacking my 2-year-old daughter and my 7-year-old daughter and my beautiful, young wife, and they would want to kill us all and burn us.

>> reporter: the hunting permit was sanctioned by the country of namibia and auctioned off by the dallas safari club , which says the money raised will go to save the black rhinos , whose numbers are dwindling due to poachers. nolton will get to shoot an aging, nonbreeding black rhino , but with fewer than 1,000 black rhinos in the world, opponents say there is no valid reason to kill one.

>> the first rule of saving rare species is to save the individuals.

>> "please don't rush to judgment," he wrote in part on his facebook page, "i deeply care about all of the inhabitants of this planet." for "today," charles hadlock, nbc news, dallas.