Cruelty-to-Animals Charges Sought for Accused ‘Fort Lyon River Fire’ Starter

For Immediate Release:
June 2, 2022

Nicole Meyer 202-483-7382

Bent County, Colo. – This morning, PETA sent a letter to 16th Judicial District Attorney William Culver asking him to add cruelty-to-animals charges to those that Charles Gregory Champney currently faces for allegedly igniting the Fort Lyon River fire. The fire killed numerous chickens and pigs and an unknown number of wild animals who lived on the 3,000 acres of now-decimated land, in addition to destroying two human residences.

PETA notes that causing this kind of unjustifiable pain, suffering, and death should be recognized as a violation of Colorado’s animal protection laws, which state that anyone who “needlessly kills an animal” commits cruelty to animals.

“Gentle pigs and chickens—and surely an untold number of other terrified animals—endured agonizing deaths in the Fort Lyon River fire,” says PETA Senior Vice President Daphna Nachminovitch. “These victims deserve acknowledgement, and PETA is calling for cruelty-to-animals charges to be filed against the person responsible for their deaths.”

PETA notes that precedents exist for such charges. After hearing from PETA, a California prosecutor charged a man with cruelty to animals for the deaths of 12 endangered condors in the Dolan fire and in Oregon, a prosecutor charged an arsonist with eight counts of first-degree animal abuse for the deaths of a sheep, a canary, a lamb, a goldfish, chickens, and a raccoon. Both cases resulted in convictions.

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to abuse in any way”—opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview. For more information on PETA’s investigative newsgathering and reporting, please visit or follow the group on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.

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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