PETA Video Shows Cruelty in Wyoming Sheep-Shearing; Livestock Officials Defend Industry
In one scene, a sick ram is dragged into a trailer, shorn and left for dead.
In other scenes, in a video released this week by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, shearers throw, stomp and curse sheep while bending back their heads.
In other scenes, ears and other body parts are cut. An attempt to stitch an injury is performed without anesthesia or other medical treatment.
"This is not sheep shearing," said Dan Paden, an investigator with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.
"This is simple, plain, malicious egregious, barbaric cruelty, and it has no place whatsoever anywhere in Wyoming or any other state or country for that matter," Paden said.
This week, PETA released a video of shearing in Australia, and the other showing shearing in Wyoming, Colorado and Nebraska. Wyoming is the second largest wool producer in the United States.
The videos were filmed from March through May at 14 ranches, including eight ranches in Wyoming in Campbell, Carbon, Crook, Fremont, Johnson, Sweetwater and Weston counties, Paden said.
The videos available at PETA's website are compilations from the ranches investigated in the United States, Paden said.
He showed the compilation video to Doug Miyamoto, interim director of the Wyoming Livestock Board, and to a board law enforcement investigator. Paden said he also gave Miyamoto videos showing more extensive abuses at the eight Wyoming ranches.
Miyamoto said officers from the Wyoming Livestock Board will be collaborating with local law enforcement agencies to possibly prosecute offenders. "They'll have to review those on a case-by-case basis."
While acknowledging the seriousness of the allegations, Miyamoto defended the Wyoming wool growing industry.
"The complaint was against a custom shearing operation, or even maybe individuals doing the shearing, but it wasn't a reflection on the livestock producers that own and operate those ranches," he said. "I don't think there's a livestock producer around that doesn't recognize that it's in their best interest to provide the utmost care of the animals that are in their charge, even from a business and production standpoint but an ethical one beyond that."
Amy Hendrickson, executive director of the Wyoming Wool Growers Association, said she's seen the PETA video, believes that only one shearer is involved in the filmed abuse, and believes it in no way represents the conduct of the industry.
"We do not condone or support the actions of anyone that results in the abuse of sheep, whether intentionally or unintentionally," Hendrickson said.
"Our producers in Wyoming have very high standards of care for their animals," she said. "They recognize is an essential and responsible part of sheep ownership; because it can cause a lot of problems if you don't shear on time."
Hendrickson acknowledges accidents and injuries can occur during shearing, and producers have ways to deal with that. "But if more than an occasional accident occurs, the shearing crew manager is expected to investigate and to communicate with the owner of the sheep in order to make any adjustments, whether it might be an equipment change or the immediate discharge of personnel."
Paden responded that not once during the filming of abuses did anyone reprimand the shearers for their behavior.
From PETA's point of view, the entire wool industry is suspect, he said. "There's no such thing as humane wool, and that's what we've seen even at these small operations."
His suggestion for an alternative to wool?
"We encourage anyone who cares about animals to leave the wool on the shelf and use synthetic man-made materials instead," Paden said.