Group Challenges School's Removal of Posts About Cruel West Nile Virus Experiments on Wild Birds
For Immediate Release:
November 6, 2019
Tasgola Bruner 202-483-7382
Fort Collins, Colo. – PETA sent a cease-and-desist letter this morning urging Colorado State University (CSU) to stop deleting or hiding comments and posts that criticize its experiments on birds from its official Facebook page—a violation of free speech under the First Amendment of the Constitution.
During September and October, the school hid or deleted posts and comments made by PETA and its members and supporters criticizing the CSU laboratory in which crows, robins, and sparrows who were captured from their natural homes are infected with West Nile virus and killed. Because the interactive spaces of a public institution’s social media pages are public forums subject to the First Amendment, the deletion or hiding of such posts is a violation of the right to free speech.
“CSU knows that it can’t possibly defend infecting birds with West Nile virus in these cruel experiments, so it has resorted to silencing critics,” says PETA Senior Vice President Kathy Guillermo. “PETA will consider legal action to restore the First Amendment right to speak out against these inhumane, pointless experiments.”
In CSU’s West Nile virus experiments, infected birds may develop a fever and anorexia and may have difficulty controlling their bodily movements. Some species—including crows—experience systemic infections followed by multiple organ failure and death. In response to a PETA complaint, Colorado Parks and Wildlife cited and fined experimenter Gregory Ebel and suspended his license after he trapped 37 American crows last year without the required state permit.
In May 2018, PETA filed a lawsuit against Texas A&M University for its removal of posts critical of experiments on dogs from its Facebook page.