The “Pork Choppin’” law allows hunters to shoot feral hogs from helicopters.
SAN ANTONIO – They called it the “pork choppin’” law when it passed a few years ago. It allowed hunters to legally shoot feral hogs from helicopters. Since then some hunters have paid thousands of dollars to go on the excursions.
Now a lawsuit filed by a Medina County man claims some operators are flying through a dangerous loophole.
Thomas Swan runs an organic farm in Devine. For him going on a helicopter hog hunt wasn’t just about the thrill of the experience.
“Being a farmer I get to see the true destruction of wild pigs. What a lot of people don’t understand is they actually are a problem,” Swan said.
Last September Swan and a friend were on a hog hunt near Burnet when the helicopter they had hired experienced engine failure. The pilot made a hard crash landing right in the lanes of Highway 281.
“The pilot said ‘hang on’ a half a second before we hit the ground,” Swan said.
Swan managed to escape injury for eight years as a Marine Sgt. in Afghanistan. He was sitting with his legs hanging out the door of the helicopter with his feet resting on the skids. The impact sent him spilling out onto the asphalt.
Swan says he suffered a badly broken ankle, broken tailbone and injured lower back.
“It’s probably the most painful thing I’ve experienced,” Swan said.
The crash is still being investigated by the NTSB, but Swan’s attorney, Ladd Sanger, who is a pilot himself, believes the chopper ran out of fuel. NTSB documents we obtained indicate the helicopter was operating with a Part 91 “General Aviation” certificate, not a Part 135 “Commercial Charter” certificate has tougher safety standards.
“That means that you have maintenance programs, that means you have FAA oversight, that means you have an operations manual, you have a chief pilot, you have a director of operations, you have training standards,” says Sanger.
Sanger claims many hog hunt operators are taking advantage of a loophole that allows them to fly up to six hunts a year with just a “General Aviation” certificate, if they stay within 25 miles of an airport and notify the FAA ahead of time.
He says the FAA needs to eliminate that loophole, or else more hunters will end up like Thomas Swan, whose injuries have made it difficult to continue farming.
“It was definitely a scary experience that’s for sure, the scariest experience I have ever been through,” Swan said.
We contacted the two companies that organized the trip, Heli Gunner and Lift Inc., neither had any comment. We spoke to other companies in the business who say before going on an aerial hunt you should ask if the operator has a Part 135 “Commercial Certificate.”
WASHINGTON — A 58-year-old Washington man was convicted Wednesday, Sept. 6, of a trio of hunting violations,but the most serious charge, felony cruelty to a deer, was dismissed by the state.
Ronald Mole pleaded no contest in Knox County Superior Court to night hunting, placing bait to entice deer and discharging a firearm near a dwelling. The no contest plea results in a conviction, but allows him to challenge the facts in separate administrative or civil proceedings.
The District Attorney’s Office dismissed a more serious charge of aggravated cruelty to animals. The charge was considered to be the first time that the animal cruelty law had been used in relation to the shooting of a deer by a hunter.
Mole will be fined $1,000 if he adheres to terms of a deferred disposition over the next 12 months. The terms require him to obey all laws during the next year. If he commits any new offenses, he could face up to the maximum of 365 days in jail for the night hunting conviction.
The offenses occurred Nov. 6 and Nov. 7 on the Old Union Road in Washington, according to paperwork filed in court by Maine Game Warden Joey Lefebvre of the Maine Inland and Fish and Wildlife department.
The animal was shot while Mole was illegally night hunting, according to investigators. The deer was left to suffer during the night until Mole returned the following morning, the state claimed.
The cruelty charge had alleged that Mole acted in a way that “manifested a depraved indifference to animal life or suffering, did intentionally, knowingly or recklessly cause extreme physical pain to an animal, cause the death of an animal, or physically torture an animal.”
Generally, animal cruelty cases involve abuse to pets.
After Mole was charged, his attorney, Christopher MacLean, of Camden, had said he was amazed that his client had been charged with animal cruelty.
“In a state with such a proud hunting tradition, it absolutely amazes me to see a felony prosecution for animal cruelty in a case where the deer was lawfully shot and properly tagged by a licensed Maine hunter. Cases like this slowly erode hunting rights in the state; I fear the next step will be to restrict gun ownership itself by those who have no understanding of Maine’s hunting tradition,” MacLean said at the time the charges were brought.
The state said the hunting occurred at 8 p.m. Nov. 6. Sunset was at 4:19 p.m. Hunting is prohibited from 30 minutes after sunset to 30 minutes before sunrise.
Then District Attorney Geoffrey Rushlau said after the charge was filed that the theory of prosecution for this case was that there was a far greater chance of a deer’s suffering if it was hunted illegally at night when a clean shot is less likely and when the deer cannot be tracked as easily.
Firing a gun within 100 yards of a residential dwelling is illegal in Maine without the permission of the property owner.
A companion case against Lisa Black, 47, of Washington, was dropped by the state. Black had been charged with unsworn falsification and false registration of a deer.
The “chicken toss” consists of throwing chickens, one or two at a time, up in the air from a tavern roof. Crowds scramble to grab the birds as they fall to the ground. The chickens are huddled freezing and fearful together in crates and bags awaiting their mistreatment by villagers who consider this animal abuse fun.
There is no similarity between a chicken being pulled from a container and thrown roughly up in the air from a roof, and a chicken fluttering to the ground voluntarily from a perch.
In addition to the physically cruel conditions is the heartless attitude toward the birds.
“Chickens are very intelligent, sensitive creatures,” says Karen Davis, President of United Poultry Concerns. “They know they are in an atmosphere of meanness and hurtfulness from which they cannot defend themselves.”
It’s time for Ridgeland to quit this cruel, moronic entertainment. They shame themselves by acting like village idiots, abusing helpless animals for fun, and teaching their children to be vicious bullies.
In the aftermath of mass murders, as in Las Vegas, we constantly hear that killing others arises from human nature. Filmmaker Ken Burns stated in his “Fresh Air” interview about his recent release on the Vietnam War, “War is human nature in spades.”
Yet, during my 28 years studying human beings’ killing of others, I discovered this from the leading expert on training human beings to kill in war, psychologist Lt. Col. Dave Grossman, in “On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society,” “[D]espite an unbroken tradition of violence and war, man is not by nature a killer.” Grossman invokes findings that even with military training and indoctrination, many soldiers deliberately fire over the enemy’s head.
As consistently indicated in a great many sources on morality in human beings and other animals, we see human nature in the altruistic, protective, compassionate, and cooperative behavior that takes hold in the aftermath of mass murder, in mass resistance to war, and in spontaneous celebration of war’s end.
This distinction is crucial for understanding and preventing violence and murder and for responding to perpetrators. If killing were natural, we would not collectively be so horrified by it. Maybe it would be OK for authorities to “lie us into war” if “we” could benefit at the expense of “them.” Instead, we experience moral injury from our representative government’s promoting official violence while demonizing killers acting on their own.
We reward and celebrate peacemakers and officers who make arrests without killing or injuring the accused. We teach children how to get along with other human beings, not how to kill them because it is “natural” to do so.
For killing to manifest an animal’s biological nature, the animal must have body parts adapted to killing other animals and to protecting against prospective victims’ defenses. It helps to have thick, tough skin; long, hard claws and powerful muscles for wielding them; long fangs and strong jaw and head muscles to sink them between a victim’s vertebrae; back and limbs especially suited to pouncing and chasing.
Obviously, human beings do not possess such physical traits.
As detailed in “The Comparative Anatomy of Eating” by Milton R. Mills, M.D., human beings have none of the anatomical or physiological traits that define animals who evolved in nature to kill other animals – the above plus an omnivore’s or carnivore’s dentition, saliva, and digestive tract. In nature, killing is mostly for eating. No naturally occurring human “equipment” correlates with that function.
Humans evolved as plant-foraging apes on the African savanna, with color vision good for distinguishing a great variety of edible leaves, fruits, berries, flowers, and other plants that eventually led to what we call “produce” when our species began living unnaturally through agriculture; versatile digits and nails adapted to picking, plucking, peeling; teeth good for tearing and grinding plants – not for ripping and scarfing flesh.
Human beings’ organized killing relies on innovation, not nature – on manufactured weapons, traps, rope and, more recently, poison, electrical current, toxic fumes. For killing, our elaborate imaginative and cooperative capabilities, adapted to avoiding predation and raising families while moving about the landscape foraging for plants to eat, are distorted to plan and coordinate assaults, attacks, murders, wars, eliminationist campaigns, and executions.
Our bodies alone – our original, natural condition – aid us in spotting our natural predators, grabbing children and fleeing, defending with rocks and tree branches, not in actively planning, organizing, and setting out to kill.
In making policies and establishing practices with regard to nonhuman animals, human beings and governments typically analyze the kind of animal involved. Except that other animals’ sentience, emotions, and intelligence are denied because our innate humaneness rebels against injuring and killing.
It is peculiar indeed that we craft policies and perpetuate practices for our own species based on ignorance of such a basic fact of our animality as whether or not it is natural for us to kill.
A native Chestnut Hiller and 1973 graduate of Springside Chestnut Hill Academy, David Cantor is founder and director of Responsible Policies for Animals, in Glenside – www.RPAforAll.org.
Animal lovers have been left distraught today after National Trust members failed to pass a motion to ban ‘trail hunting’ on Trust land.
A group of National Trust members, supported by the League Against Cruel Sports, put forward a motion calling on the charity to stop fox, hare and stag hunts from illegally killing animals on Trust land under the cover of ‘trail hunting’, exempt hunting or just exercising their hounds.
In the result out this afternoon, the number of people voting against the motion to ban Trail hunting was 30,985. Those for the motion was 30,686. This means that the motion failed by 299 votes. It is worth noting that the National Trust was given discretionary votes by some members, meaning that those votes were used by the National Trust to vote against the motion. Without those discretionary votes, the number of people who voted for the motion was actually greater than those who voted against. So the decision was swung against the motion by the National Trust board.
The result means that 67 hunts which have previously been issued with licences to hunt on Trust land will be able to continue doing so in the future.
Philippa King, Acting CEO of the League Against Cruel Sports, said:
“The Trust claims to protect our countryside but they have singularly failed to do that. This is a massive backward step for justice and a shot in the arm for cruelty. The fact that more people actually voted to ban trail hunting than voted not to is very telling and we are extremely proud of that. But the vote was lost because the National Trust decided to ignore the popular vote and side with the pro-hunt lobby. This is both sad and very worrying and we hope that the Trust will have taken on board and listened very carefully to the points made by members. We want to see them bring in the new licensing rules they have introduced and do everything in their power to ensure the hunts are properly monitored.
“The National Trust could have played a major role in curtailing illegal hunting in this country, but they chose to ignore 400 pages of evidence and instead mislead their members into voting against this motion. Their justification is that there have been no prosecutions of hunts on National Trust land – but if you let a burglar wander round your house without supervision, then he’s unlikely to be arrested.
“Hunts will now claim that people believe they are hunting legally. If so, they shouldn’t mind if the National Trust now invites independent monitors onto their land to ensure that the hunts follow their rules, as the Trust officials don’t normally monitor hunting on their land as they should. We’ll then see how many accidents, how many chases and how many deaths occur in the name of ‘trail’ hunting.”
Helen Beynon, National Trust member who was one of those proposing the motion, said:
“I started this with some other National Trust members because I witnessed the deceit of hunts which are claiming to follow trails but are actually chasing animals, and I couldn’t abide the thought of them getting away with it on National Trust land. I believe the only reason our motion has failed is because most National Trust members haven’t seen it with their own eyes. If they’d have seen what I’ve seen, then I have no doubt they would have voted with us.
“I was surprised, that despite all the evidence available to the National Trust Trustees, and the fact that we were given no opportunity to respond to the terms of any new licence, they advised members to vote against our proposal. By doing this, they have led people to believe that there is no problem. But there is a problem, hunts will now be able to continue their barbaric hobby on land which is meant to be protected for people and animals. It’s disgraceful, and the National Trust should be ashamed.”
TRAIL HUNTING, NOT DRAG HUNTING
The motion did not attempt to ban ‘drag’ hunting which has existed as a legitimate sport for 200 years and uses non-animal based artificial trails in areas without foxes or hares. ‘Drag’ hunting offers a genuine alternative to illegal hunting, as the huntsmen have full knowledge of where the trail is being laid, so ‘accidental kills’ are practically unheard of. However, no fox or hare hunt converted to drag hunting after the Hunting Act passed in 2004, and they invented ‘trail’ hunting instead.
“This was not an attempt to kill off ‘tradition’, it was an attempt to stop the killing of animals for fun,” said Philippa King. “Drag hunts follow an artificial trail and rarely catch an animal ‘by accident’, and will not be affected by this ban. Trail hunting was invented after the Hunting Act came in, but there was no genuine reason to invent a new version of drag hunting unless there was an ulterior motive – to carry on killing foxes, deer and hares, and get away with it.
“This deception has been recognised by many National Trust members, but not by the Trust themselves. Today the hunts will be laughing at the National Trust – or at least those in the National Trust who are opposed to hunting.”
Last year the National Trust issued 79 annual licences granting hunts access to their land in England and Wales to trail hunt.
The League believes there is no such a thing as the ‘sport of trail hunting’ and it is simply a temporary, false alibi to cover for illegal hunting while the hunting fraternity hopes for the hunting ban to be repealed or weakened.
Invented following the enactment of the Hunting Act 2004, trail hunting was created to mimic traditional hunting. Hunts are said to follow a pre-laid trail in areas where the ‘once’ hunted animals would naturally occur. However those controlling the hounds are not told where the scent has been laid, so if the hounds catch the scent of a live animal instead – resulting in a chase and often a kill – this is then classed as an ‘accident’.
Reports from more than 30 hunt monitors across ten years from different organisations covering the majority of hunts in England and Wales (157), have reported witnessing someone laying a possible trail only in an average of around 3% of the occasions they monitored hunts. Worse, they believed that they may have witnessed a genuine trail hunting event, rather than a fake one, on an average of around 0.04% of occasions.
Thank you all for writing and phoning Yellville, Arkansas public officials
months in advance this year and in previous years, in response to our Alerts
(Tell Yellville to Stop Dropping Turkeys from Airplanes
urging the town to
eliminate the sadistic “turkey drop” from its annual festival, now in its
year. Today’s Editorial in Arkansas Online (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette)
fortunately opposes what it calls the “turkey toss” as “cruel,” while
unfortunately suggesting setting caged turkeys around town and opening them
the turkeys to come out and be chased down by townspeople as “more humane,
sporting” before slaughtering them. (The ritual foreplay of throwing turkeys
from airplanes, buildings and stages is supposed to culminate in a
family slaughtering of the birds who manage to live through these
See for example the article linked to in Yellville, Arkansas: A Sad, Bad
Oct. 16, 2017).
While the *Arkansas Democrat-Gazette* and its online version, Arkansas
not publish Letters to the Editor from out-of-state writers, they do post
comments from people outside of Arkansas, so today I posted this comment
following the newspaper’s “Editorial: Find a better way”:
*Karen Davis says . . .*
Thank you for speaking out against dropping turkeys from moving aircraft
height to which even wild turkeys never ascend. Nor did turkeys evolve in
to be dropped from any height but, rather, they evolved to take off from the
ground or a branch, which is totally different, biologically, from being
dropped, whether from an airplane or the top of a building. In addition to
height from which the turkeys are being forced out of the plane, they
terrific wind pressure produced by the plane. There is nothing in these
natural behavior, genetics, or evolution enabling them to comprehend or cope
with this situation. Nor is chasing terrified turkeys around town “humane.”
Imagine grown-ups teaching their children to enjoy terrorizing, injuring and
killing turkeys (or any fellow creature) for the pleasure of making them
Most of the comments posted following your recent article about the “turkey
drop” exhibit a very ugly, mean-spirited attitude of ignorance and
toward the birds. The “turkey drop” speaks poorly for Yellville. The very
“Yellville” connotes cruelty and pitiless pathology.
Thank you again for taking a stand.
Karen Davis, President of United Poultry Concerns,
author of More Than a Meal: The Turkey in History, Myth, Ritual, and
*More Than a Meal*
This scholarly and authoritative book examines the cultural and literal
history, as well as the natural history and biological needs and concerns
of turkeys. And much more!
[What kind of twisted species would hurl live turkeys from airplanes? It underscores their disrespect for the animals whose death they celebrate every fall.]
Every October, the city of Yellville, Arkansas, holds its annual Turkey Trot, an event that includes the notorious “turkey drop.” This year was no exception, as live domestically bred wild turkeys—who normally would fly only short distances and low to the ground—were hurled from an airplane, the courthouse roof, buildings, and the festival stage into the clutches of a frenzied crowd. Thankfully, four birds were rescued by local PETA supporters and provided with veterinary treatment, and they’re currently safe in foster care. More information about this year’s sadistic event can be viewed here.
Once again, please urge Yellville officials to end this cruelty, which is a blight on the entire state—then forward this alert to everyone you know.
The Honorable Clinton L. Evans
Marion County Sheriff
491 Hwy. 62 W.
Yellville, AR 72687
Please click here to send an e-mail.
The Honorable Kenford O. Carter
Deputy Prosecuting Attorney
105 S. Berry St.
Yellville, AR 72687
“Last week New York’s Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum announcedit would
be pulling three works from its next big exhibition, “Art and China
after 1989: Theater of the World.” It did so after angry criticism
from animal rights protesters that the works were — according to an
online petition that has attracted over 700,000 signatories —
“distinct instances of unmistakable cruelty against animals in the
name of art.””
“These works have outraged animal rights advocates: the campaign group
PETA fumed that “people who find entertainment in watching animals try
to fight each other are sick individuals whose twisted whims the
Guggenheim should refuse to cater to.
“Only a little more tolerantly, the American Society for the
Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) declared that “the ASPCA
fully supports artistic expression, but strongly oppose any use of
animals in art or entertainment if it results in pain or distress to
the animals, which is clearly the case in this video,” referring to
“Dogs That Cannot Touch Each Other” (2003).”
Two men were charged with harassment of wildlife after posting photos of beer being forced down the throat of an alligator. (South Carolina Department of Natural Resources via CNN Newsource)
VIEW PHOTO GALLERY
JASPER COUNTY, S.C. (WPEC) – Two men in South Carolina are facing criminal charges for forcing beer down the throat of a young alligator, according to the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources.
Investigators said the men posted a photo of the alligator chugging the beer to social media. A short time later, the SCDNR started getting calls, messages and screenshots related to the incident.
Authorities said the two men, after forcing the juvenile gator to drink the beer, released the reptile back into a pond and watched it swim away.
Wildlife investigators went out to a dirt road near Hardeeville in Jasper County and caught up with the two men. Both admitted to harassing the alligator after seeing it cross the road.
Joseph Andrew Floyd Jr., 20, and Zachary Lloyd Brown, 21, are facing a misdemeanor charge of harassing wildlife.
“Wildlife conservation is a big part of what SCDNR officers do each day,” SCDNR 1st Sgt. Earl Pope said. “This case is a good example of why we strive to educate people about wildlife in hopes that they will respect it.”
The men face a maximum fine of $300.
Roughly 2 million wild hogs are estimated to live in Texas, and they cause more than $50 million in damage each year. The invasive animals’ high breeding rate and lack of predators have fueled their proliferation in South, Central and East Texas, leading to big business for hunters and trappers.
In 2011, Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller, then a state rep, passed what became known as the “pork chopper” bill, legalizing the hunting of feral hogs from a helicopter. On its face, the bill sounded more like a joke than an actual solution.
Turns out, it’s really hard to shoot anything from a helicopter. In addition to being ineffective, the method is also very dangerous (and not just for the hogs.) The only results produced by the bill were some crazy YouTube videos and an industry in which people pay upwards of $3,000 per hunt to pick off pigs from a chopper.
Enter state Representative Mark Keough, a Republican and pastor from The Woodlands. He told the Observer that he “loved” Miller’s pork chopper bill and found himself asking: “What are more ways we can take more feral hogs?”
After chatting with hunters and conducting his own informal research, Keough believes he’s found an alternative solution: hot air balloons.
His House Bill 3535 would authorize Texans to hunt feral hogs and coyotes from a hot air balloon with a permit.
If the idea seems crazy, that’s because it is. No one hunts from a hot air balloon. Go ahead, Google it. “I haven’t found people anywhere doing this,” Keough admits.
But he thinks it would be pretty damn sweet to try. (It’s currently illegal, or he would’ve tried already, he said.)
The fast-moving helicopter approach, Keough says, has a lot of “safety issues,” leads to many misses and often scares off the hogs. “They’re smart,” he said.
Hot air balloons, on the other hand, are more stable, slower and offer a better rifle-shooting platform, Keough said.
Still, Keough says, “It’s far safer than if you were hunting out of a helicopter.”
But more effective? Probably not.
Even Keough admits there’s a good chance hunters could spend all day in a balloon and not shoot anything. And its clumsy, slow-moving nature will keep hunters from effectively chasing the animals.
The animals, which can grow to weigh 100-400 pounds, have a gestation period that’s shorter than four months and litter sizes of up to 12. They are considered a non-game animal, meaning there are no seasons or bag limits, but a state hunting license is required.
Billy Higginbotham, a professor and wildlife and fisheries specialist with the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, said the balloon strategy faces the same problem as helicopters in the eastern third of the state: trees.
“Aerial gunning by any vehicle [in East Texas] is not widely used because of the extensive tree cover,” Higginbotham said.
Keough said the “pork choppper” bill “was more about creating an industry” and that no single strategy will significantly reduce hog populations.
“I think there is a possibility [with hot air balloons] for an industry, but the motivating factor is this is another way to get rid of the problem,” he said
Keough also sponsored legislation that would require more research on the effects of widespread lethal pesticides, including warfarin, before they can be used on hogs. The measure passed the House Monday.
A Texas Parks and Wildlife Department spokesperson declined to comment on pending legislation, citing agency policy. HB 3535 would require the agency to license individuals who want to hunt from the balloons.
Keough, who said he’s “interested in anything that will help us get rid of these things,” believes his bill represents the spirit of Texas.
“We’ve got a problem here, and we are willing to fix it ourself,” he said. “We have that Western, swashbuckling, cowboying type of way to deal with things. It’s part of the culture, it’s different than any other state.”
Correction: An earlier version of this story reported no license is required to hunt feral hogs in Texas. A state-issued license is required, although there are no seasons or bag limits.