From Animal Legal Defense
Indiana Department of Natural Resources States that Live Turtles Will Not Be Used in Campground Festivities, Following Year of Investigation and Legal Legwork by Animal Advocates
Press release for immediate release, August 2nd 2011
Lisa Franzetta, Animal Legal Defense Fund
Megan Backus, Animal Legal Defense Fund
INDIANAPOLIS – The Indiana Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has announced that the abuse of turtles at the annual Ohio County event known as “Snapperfest,” where “contestants” demonstrate their prowess by pulling the heads of live turtles far outside of their shells, will not take place this summer. In an August 1 email to the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF), the DNR stated:
We have information from the owners of the campground that the portion of the event using live animals, namely turtles, will not be taking place this year. However, we will continue to monitor the situation. If you have any first-hand knowledge that laws are being broken or about to be broken involving turtles at this event, please share it with us so that it can be checked for compliance with the regulations.
This past January, ALDF, along with Best Friends Animal Society, submitted a petition for rulemaking to the DNR, arguing that a misinterpretation of state law had allowed for illegal cruelty at Snapperfest. Recklessly, knowingly, or intentionally neglecting a vertebrate animal, as was documented in undercover video taken during last year’s Snapperfest, is a Class A misdemeanor in Indiana. Following ALDF’s petition for rulemaking, the DNR asserted that the state cruelty law does in fact apply to the turtles swung by their tails, repeatedly dropped and thrown to the ground, and yanked head-first out of their shells by their necks in Snapperfest’s cruel events.
Because footage from last year’s event showed a “Welcome to Snapperfest” banner with a Budweiser logo, Anheuser-Busch issued a statement to ALDF clarifying that neither they nor their local wholesaler was a sponsor of Snapperfest, adding that “For more than a century, we have prided ourselves on our reputation for treating animals with respect....” Meanwhile, thousands of activists up-in-arms over the cruel event have signed online petitions urging an end to the violent “festivities” of Snapperfest.
“Since it began in 1996, Snapperfest has been a shame on the state of Indiana, and compassionate citizens from around the world have been up-in-arms about this pathetic event since undercover video of participants abusing turtles for a cheap thrill came to light,” says ALDF director of litigation Carter Dillard.
“We’re hopeful the campground makes good on its word to the state of Indiana to leave live turtles out of any summer events this year--and we will look to the state to take swift action against anyone acting in violation of animal protection laws.”