(Ohio County, Ind.) - Whether People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals liked it or not, Snapperfest took place as planned on Saturday in Ohio County.
The 15th annual snapping turtle event ignited outrage from animal rights advocates around the world after PETA issued an online action alert seeking to have the “extraordinarily cruel” event halted.
As word of Snapperfest spread across the Internet, the Humane Society of the United States joined PETA’s call.
“The event no doubt teaches attending children and the wider community that handling wildlife is nothing but a brutal and frivolous game, with no regard to the suffering endured by these animals,” said a statement from Anne Sterling, Indiana State Director of the HSUS.
“There are so many wonderful opportunities in Indiana provided by properties such as yours for families to humanely observe and learn about wildlife. There is no justification for continuing these brutal, inhumane, and counter-educational events.”
Snapperfest organizers at the Camp Shore Campground said there were no problems at the event Saturday evening. There was at least one PETA member at the campground, but no problems were reported.
A film crew with the World Animal Awareness Society claims they went to the campground Saturday in an effort to film the event, but were told to leave the property. They later attempted to film the event from the Ohio River (seen at right).
Phone lines at the campground and also those of Ohio County officials and law enforcement had been ringing off the hook through the weekend with complaints from PETA members and others accusing the Snapperfest of being a “torturefest.”
In an earlier article, the owners of Camp Shore Campground defended the event where contestants pry open a turtle’s shell and pull its head out in order to hold it up by the neck. They said the turtles, which are caught humanely, are not killed or harmed.
The letter from the Humane Society of the United States to Camp Shore Campground:
August 19, 2011
To: Campshore Campground
8546 State Route 56
Aurora, Indiana 47001
We are writing to encourage Campshore Campgrounds to cancel any/all events scheduled to occur at ‘Snapperfest’ on Saturday, August 20, 2011 that involve the use of live turtles.
The inherent stress and harm to the snapping turtles in this event, which reportedly is based on a contestant’s ability to overpower, dominate and kill the animal is reason enough to no longer host it. The event no doubt teaches attending children and the wider community that handling wildlife is nothing but a brutal and frivolous game, with no regard to the suffering endured by these animals.
Additionally, the scientific community has expressed increasing concern about the status and viability of turtle populations as evidence of declines based on habitat loss and alteration increases, and as new threats, such as emerging diseases, are identified. For these reasons, a conservative approach to turtle management, directed toward stemming the erosion of populations for recreational use—is well warranted.
There are so many wonderful opportunities in Indiana provided by properties such as yours for families to humanely observe and learn about wildlife.
There is no justification for continuing these brutal, inhumane, and counter-educational events.
We urge you to take immediate and responsible action to put an end to any cruel activity involving snapping turtles at ‘Snapperfest.’
Indiana state director, The Humane Society of the United States
Executive Director, The Animal Legal Defense Fund