Outdoor Tales

April 25, 2002

PETA adds anglers to its list

PETA, short for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, is a radical non-profit organization that has waged war for the past 20 years against hunters, meat packers, dairymen, furriers and animal researchers in the name of kindness.

The animal rights group has now targeted fishermen.

Led by co-founder Ingrid Newkirk, PETA often uses shock, insult and even nudity to manipulate the media.

Newkirk admits to having been arrested more than 50 times in the last 20 years for advancing her cause.

PETA's claim of a "lean, mean" charity group is borne out by the numbers. Most of the group's 132 employees make less than $25,000 a year and a growing number of volunteers work for free as they administer $17 million in donations annually.

The radical group, which believes feeding meat to children constitutes child abuse, has launched a full attack on the nation's 50 million anglers and challenged several governors to ban fishing in their states.


The organization's mascot, Gill the Fish, recently showed up at General Mills' headquarters in Minneapolis to protest the company's decision to put bass fishing great Denny Brauer on the front of its Wheaties box.

Gill dumped discarded hooks, fishing line and other trash left behind by fishermen from a giant parody box labeled "Weenies: The Breakfast of Lip-Rippers." Printed across the bottom of the large box were the words "cereal killers."

PETA believes more than half the fish released during catch-and-release tournaments die within a few weeks after being released. It also believes fish have nerve endings in their mouths and feel pain just like humans do.

To combat the group, many states passed angler harassment laws making it illegal to interfere with anyone lawfully fishing.

Earlier this year PETA lawyers served notice to the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife saying PETA reserves the right to bring an action for damages and/or injuries sustained in an automobile crash when a group returning from a PETA anti-hunting campaign tour collided with a deer on the New Jersey Turnpike. The deer was killed and the car, registered to PETA, sustained more than $6,000 in damages.

PETA claims the accident was the result of deer fleeing from deer hunters. The accident occurred at 1 a.m., a time when hunting is not allowed and a week before the opener of fall deer season.

PETA has a large following and seems to thrive on confrontation. It recently won a decision against Michael T. Dounhney, forcing Dounhney to remove his Web site from the Internet. Dounhney used his legally obtained Web address as the home page of the fictitious organization People Eating Tasty Animals.

The site described itself as "a resource for those who enjoy eating meat, wearing fur and leather, hunting, fishing and the fruits of scientific research."

In similar legal action, Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus sued PETA, which had registered and used it to post allegations the circus mistreated animals. PETA agreed to transfer the domain name to the circus in exchange for withdrawal of the lawsuit.

PETA's attempt to stop deer season in Ohio backfired this year. Ohio law requires all deer hunters to wear at least 400 square inches of blaze orange so PETA purchased hundreds of the bright vests and attached them to more than 400 live trapped deer, thinking that deer hunters would not shoot at anything wearing bright orange.

Guy Lockey of Guy's Outdoors took on PETA when he offered a $5 cash award and a chance for a grand prize drawing for those who successfully bagged a deer wearing an orange vest.

At last count more than 302 vests had been returned to Guy's Outdoors.

"It's so easy. You can see them coming a mile away," said one first-year hunter who checked in his spike buck.

PETA's charity status was questioned recently when the Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise filed suit alleging PETA supports domestic terrorist groups, steals trade secrets and assaults business executives. According to the complaint, PETA encourages unlawful activities that are inconsistent with its allegedly charitable purpose.

In congressional testimony, Richard Berman of the Center for Consumer Freedom produced a tax return from PETA showing the group had donated $1,500 to the North American Earth Liberation Front, which, according to FBI testimony, is the largest and most active U.S.-based terrorist group.

The FBI also claims this group has caused more than $43 million in damage since 1996.

PETA was also closely tied to the Animal Liberation Front, ELF's close counterpart. PETA donated $70,200 to the defense of Rodney Coronado, an ALF member convicted of fire-bombing Michigan State University. He pleaded guilty to similar crimes in Oregon and Washington.

PETA thrives on publicity. But as people learn their donations are funding arsonists, the money flow will be stanched and PETA will wither away.

>> Outdoor Tales writer Al Kalin can be reached on the Internet at

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