PETA Wants Cruelty-to-Animals Charges for Accused Springville Fire Starter

For Immediate Release:
August 9, 2022

Nicole Meyer 202-483-7382

Springville, Utah – This morning, PETA sent a letter to Utah County Attorney David Leavitt, asking that he add cruelty-to-animals charges to those that investigators have proposed against Cory Allan Martin for allegedly igniting the Springville fire, which has ravaged 60 acres and undoubtedly caused animals to burn to death—including the spider Martin was reportedly attempting to burn with a lighter.

The group writes in its letter that causing animals to suffer and die painfully, as was likely the case in this fire, needs to be recognized as a violation of Utah’s animal protection laws, even though spiders are not covered under the state’s anti-cruelty statute. The letter notes that a “vast number of other species, from mule deer to yellow-bellied marmots” resided in and around the area burned and that prosecutors in California and Oregon added cruelty-to-animals charges in similar wildfire cases, resulting in convictions on those charges.

“Beginning with this spider, an untold number of terrified animals likely burned and died in agony,” says PETA Vice President Daniel Paden. “These victims deserve acknowledgment, and PETA is asking that as additional victims are identified, the person responsible face charges for causing so much suffering.”

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, please visit or follow the group on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.

PETA’s letter to Leavitt follows.

August 9, 2022

The Honorable David O. Leavitt
Utah County Attorney

Dear Mr. Leavitt:

I hope this letter finds you well. I’m writing to request that your office add cruelty-to-animals charges, as appropriate, to the reckless burning and related charges that investigators have proposed against Cory Allan Martin in connection with the Springville fire.

Although no humans lost their lives, the many wild animals who resided on the approximately 60 acres of land destroyed in the fire were undoubtedly less fortunate—including the spider whom Martin reportedly told police he was attempting to burn with a lighter when the surrounding brush ignited. Such catastrophic fires inflict terror and suffering on countless animals and cause them to endure prolonged, agonizing deaths.

Utah Code § 76-9-301 states that a person who “recklessly, or with criminal negligence … injures an animal” is guilty of cruelty to an animal and that a person who “kills an animal or causes an animal to be killed without having a legal privilege to do so” is guilty of aggravated cruelty to an animal. Although as an invertebrate, the spider Martin allegedly tried to burn to death wasn’t protected by Utah’s anti-cruelty statute, the mountains around Springville are home to a vast number of other species, from mule deer to yellow-bellied marmots, who are protected.

Given that Martin is accused of recklessly causing a fast-burning wildfire that surely led to serious injuries and death for an untold number of animals—and that such conduct does not qualify as lawful hunting, fishing, or trapping practices that exempt wild animals from protection against cruelty—I respectfully ask that investigators and your office add cruelty-to-animals charges to those the defendant already faces, as prosecutors in California and Oregon did in similar cases—both of which resulted in convictions on those charges.

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


Sarah Deffinger

Senior Evidence Analyst

Cruelty Investigations Department

For Media: Contact PETA's
Media Response Team.


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“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