A still from a YouTube video showing
Snapperfest at Campshore Campground
in Ohio County.
(Ohio County, Ind.) - National animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA, wants a local event stopped.
Snapperfest takes place at Campshore Campground in Ohio County on Saturday. The more than decade old event has grown in popularity each year. It features people wrangling with wild snapping turtles, pulling their heads out of their shells as a large crowd watches and cheers them on, campground co-owner Chris Probst told Eagle 99.3.
It’s good, clean fun and anybody from the crowd can participate Probst said.
That's not the way PETA sees it. The Norfolk, Virginia-based group has issued an online action alert on their national website calling Snapperfest “extraordinarily cruel.”
“Wild-caught snapping turtles endure terrible violence at the hands of participants. The frightened animals are grabbed by their tails and repeatedly slammed to the ground. Their heads are yanked from their shells, and they are then swung around until "contestants" are able to wrap their fists around the animals' necks,” the organization claims.
PETA further alleges the turtles are seriously injured, sometimes to the point of being fatal.
Campshore Campground co-owner Chris Probst accuses PETA of being misleading.
“We do not kill the turtles. They are caught by hand. You can’t pull the head off a turtle,” Probst said, adding there is nothing illegal about Snapperfest.
Probst said there are no plans to cancel Saturday’s Snapperfest.
“They (PETA) are welcome to come and watch and see we’re not doing anything wrong,” said Probst.
The group was unsuccessful in asking the Ohio County Commissioners to halt the event. PETA is now asking others to put pressure on county leaders.
The contact information for various county commissioners and councilmen has been published on the PETA website.
Eagle 99.3 attempted to contact the Ohio County Commissioners by phone Friday morning, but the calls were not answered. Messages could not be left with two of the commissioners because their voice mailboxes were full.
The Aurora Police Department said it has received a number of misdirected complaints about Snapperfest. The campground has an Aurora mailing address it, possibly confusing some of those contacting local officials.
In a statement, Aurora Police Chief Bryan Field said, "As I have received numerous complaints via email regarding 'Snapperfest' held at Campshore in Ohio County, Indiana, I felt compelled to educate the public that this event is not held within the City of Aurora and falls outside of the jurisdiction of the Aurora Police Department. Although the venue takes place at a location that has an Aurora address, it does not occur in Aurora, or even in Dearborn County, which is where we are located. The City of Aurora and Aurora Police Department has no control or jurisdiction over this event."