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PETA Urges Assistant D.A. to Vigorously Prosecute Alleged Alligator Beater

St. Martinville Man Allegedly Videotaped Striking Animal With Boat Oar

For Immediate Release:
October 15, 2013

Contact:
David Perle 202-483-7382

Lafayette, La. – Today, PETA sent an urgent plea to St. Martin Parish Assistant District Attorney Nicholas Markowich calling on him to vigorously prosecute St. Martinville resident Bryan Champagne and ensure that he be prohibited from contact with animals, including approaching wildlife, for as long as legally possible if he is convicted of cruelty to animals. PETA provided the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries with a YouTube video that appears to show Champagne, the owner of Champagne’s Cajun Swamp Tours, repeatedly striking a mother alligator in the face with a boat oar. A second video shows the illegal handling of a baby alligator and the operator joking about the mother alligator’s fear of his boat oar. Champagne is scheduled to be arraigned on Wednesday.

“If he is found guilty, Bryan Champagne must not be allowed to cause wildlife to suffer further,” says PETA Director Martin Mersereau. “We’re asking Assistant District Attorney Markowich to see to it that the harassment of animals and flouting of Louisiana’s animal-protection laws are stopped.”

For more information, please visit PETA.org

PETA’s letter to St. Martin Parish Assistant District Attorney Nicholas Markowich follows.

October 15, 2013

Nicholas J. Markowich
Assistant District Attorney
St. Martin Parish District Attorney’s Office 
415 S. Main St.
St. Martinville, LA 70582

Dear Mr. Markowich:

PETA is an international animal-protection organization with more than 3 million members and supporters globally. This letter concerns a case that your office is handling involving St. Martinville resident Bryan Champagne, a swamp guide and owner of Champagne’s Cajun Swamp Tours. Champagne was reportedly caught on video handling a baby alligator, enticing the frightened animal to bite, and repeatedly striking an adult alligator—presumably the distressed mother—in the face with an oar as he gave tours. At one point, the suspect indicated to patrons that he had taken this latter action before, stating, “She go after the oar instead of me now.” PETA provided the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries with this evidence, and Champagne’s scheduled arraignment on cruelty-to-animals charges is tomorrow, October 16.

Not only did the depicted actions demonstrate a blatant irreverence toward animals in the wild, they also illustrate apparently unlawful and dangerous ways of approaching wildlife. On behalf of our thousands of members in Louisiana, we respectfully ask that, if convicted—and given that repeat crimes are the rule rather than the exception among animal abusers—Bryan Champagne be prohibited from contact with animals, which is a common provision in such cases, and particularly from approaching wildlife, for as long as legally possible.

Thank you for your time and consideration and for the difficult work that you do.

Sincerely,

Kristin Simon
Senior Cruelty Caseworker
Cruelty Investigations Department
PETA