Air Force Academy Under Fire for Training: Rabbits Apparently Beaten, Killed, Skinned, and Eaten

Public Records Show Agency Spent Thousands in Taxpayer Dollars on Live Animals From Unlicensed Dealers, in Apparent Violation of Federal Law

For Immediate Release:
June 29, 2016

Tasgola Bruner 202-483-7382

Colorado Springs, Colo. – PETA has filed urgent complaints with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA); the superintendent of the U.S. Air Force Academy (USAFA), Lt. Gen. Michelle D. Johnson; and the secretary of the Air Force, Deborah James, calling for an immediate investigation of public records that reveal that cadets at the USAFA are forced to participate in a “sustenance” training exercise in which domesticated and docile rabbits are bludgeoned, skinned, and eaten—and in which chickens are also killed.

The records indicate that since at least 2014, the USAFA has apparently spent thousands in taxpayer dollars to buy live animals from dealers who aren’t licensed by the USDA, in apparent violation of the federal Animal Welfare Act. In addition, the USAFA has apparently failed to submit federally mandated annual reports to the USDA that document the number of rabbits it uses and kills.

“Beating tame rabbits to death is both cruel and unnecessary,” says PETA Senior Vice President of Laboratory Investigations Kathy Guillermo. “PETA is calling on the U.S. Air Force Academy to stop killing animals and to join other military units in using humane and effective non-animal training methods.”

As PETA notes in its letters, U.S. Department of Defense policy requires the use of “methods other than animal use” for training purposes when non-animal methods are available. Some military units have never used animals, and others have ended the practice. More than two decades ago, the U.S. Army’s Dugway Proving Ground canceled similar survival skills training using animals.

PETA initially contacted the USAFA in May to urge an end to this practice. Both it and the Air Force have promised a response, but to date, none has been provided.

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 Ingrid E. Newkirk

“Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights?” READ MORE

— Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA President and co-author of Animalkind