Feds Fine ‘Call of the Wildman’ Producer for Animal-Welfare Violations

PETA Obtains Notice: Laws Were Ignored While Filming Animal Planet Show

For Immediate Release:
August 23, 2017

Contact:
Moira Colley 202-483-7382

New York – After dragging out an investigation for years, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has belatedly fined a producer of Animal Planet’s Call of the Wildman for multiple federal Animal Welfare Act violations, including causing a deer unnecessary discomfort and stress and repeatedly exhibiting animals without a license.

In 2014, the agency opened an investigation into the show after a PETA complaint and a damning Mother Jones investigative report. In one episode, the show’s star, Ernie Brown Jr., visited a Brownsville, Kentucky consignment shop in order to capture a white-tailed deer who was “trapped” in the store. Throughout the episode, Brown and several other men holler and scream as they chase the visibly distressed buck through the store, attempting to catch him. The deer crashes into shelving and slips and falls before being tackled. The USDA found that the staged scene caused him unnecessary discomfort and stress. The fine also shows that unlicensed exhibition of animals occurred in multiple other episodes as well.

Call of the Wildman was an egregious example of abusing animals for entertainment,” says PETA Foundation Associate Director of Captive Animal Law Enforcement Rachel Mathews. “Putting animals in harm’s way to garner ratings must be condemned, and Animal Planet should stop airing these gratuitously cruel ‘reality’ shows.”

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment”—points out that this case exemplifies how the USDA is failing to deter animal abuse: The show’s producer faced up to $100,000 in fines but settled with the agency for $1,400. The agency’s own Office of Inspector General has issued a series of damning audit reports finding that USDA penalties are “often so low that violators regarded them as a cost of doing business.”

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