Steer’s Tail Twisted Until Broken; PETA Seeks Criminal Probe

For Immediate Release:
April 11, 2022

Contact:
David Perle 202-483-7382

Elkhorn, Wis. – PETA has obtained a U.S. Department of Agriculture report revealing a recent violation of law at Wilson Farm Meats in Elkhorn, in which a manager repeatedly twisted a steer’s tail—fracturing it so severely that bone apparently punctured the skin—while screaming expletives, causing the animal to cry out and bleed. In response, PETA sent a letter this morning to Walworth County District Attorney Zeke Wiedenfeld calling on him to review the matter and, as appropriate, file criminal cruelty-to-animals charges against the manager.

“This disturbing report shows that this steer experienced agonizing, prolonged pain at Wilson Farm Meats before his death,” says PETA Senior Vice President Daphna Nachminovitch. “PETA is calling for a criminal investigation on this steer’s behalf and urging everyone to help prevent more animals from suffering in slaughterhouses by going vegan.”

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to eat”—opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview. The group notes that cows, sheep, pigs, chickens, and other animals feel pain and fear and value their lives, just as humans do.

For more information on PETA’s investigative newsgathering and reporting, visit PETA.org or follow the group on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.

PETA’s letter to Wiedenfeld follows.

April 11, 2022

The Honorable Zeke Wiedenfeld

Walworth County District Attorney

Dear Mr. Wiedenfeld:

I hope this letter finds you well. I would like to request that your office (and the proper local law-enforcement agency, as you deem appropriate) investigate and file suitable criminal charges against the Wilson Farm Meats Inc. manager responsible for twisting a steer’s tail so severely that a vertebra inside apparently broke and punctured the skin—causing the animal to cry out repeatedly—on March 9 at its slaughterhouse located at 406 S. Wisconsin St. in Elkhorn. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) documented the incident in the enclosed report, which states the following:

Establishment Manager, Mr. Justin Corman, was using loud, explicit language while twisting the tail of Hereford steer as [the animal] was repeatedly pulling [his] head out of the stunning area head restraint. IPP [Inspection Program Personnel] was able to see the employee’s arm rotating with the tail within the restrainer. IPP observed the animal vocalizing with [his] mouth open, tongue hanging out, and eyes bulged. … When IPP moved closer, the establishment manager stopped tail twisting and was … smacking the rump with his hands. The hand smack was audible but the steer did not respond. … IPP stepped off the floor briefly to contact his supervisor for clarification. While off the floor, he heard the animal vocalizing again. Once he got back to the floor, the animal was effectively stunned and unconscious. He noticed that there was fresh blood on the back of the stunning area (away from the head). … Upon inspection, IPP noticed blood at the end of the animal[’]s white tail. … Upon her inspection, [a Supervisory Public Health Veterinarian] confirmed that there was fresh blood on the tail and on the restrainer. There was a small open wound in the hide (approximately ½ inch) about 2–2.5 inches from the tip of the tail. When running her fingers over the wound, it was not smooth, there was a noticeable bump consistent with a break. The tail was then examined after dehiding. The injured tail was red and bruised in the same area where the wound was observed with the hide on. The bruised area was also curved and flexible, consistent with a fractured tail.2

This conduct appears to violate Wis. Stat. § 951.02. Importantly, FSIS’ action carries no criminal or civil penalties and does not preempt criminal liability under state law for slaughterhouse workers who perpetrate acts of cruelty to animals.2

Please let us know what we might do to assist you. Thank you for your consideration and for the difficult work that you do.

Sincerely,

Colin Henstock

Assistant Manager of Investigations

1FSIS District 25 Manager Dawn Sprouls, D.V.M., Notice of Suspension, Wilson Farm Meats, Inc. (March 9, 2022) https://www.fsis.usda.gov/sites/default/files/media_file/2022-03/M34554-NOS-03092022.pdf. Last accessed March 22, 2022.

2See Nat’l. Meat Assoc. v. Harris, 132 S. Ct. 965, 974 n.10 (2012) (“States may exact civil or criminal penalties for animal cruelty or other conduct that also violates the [Federal Meat Inspection Act (FMIA)]. See [21 U.S.C.] §678; cf. Bates v. Dow Agrosciences, LLC, 544 U.S. 431, 447 (2005), holding that a preemption clause barring state laws ‘in addition to or different’ from a federal Act does not interfere with an ‘equivalent’ state provision. Although the FMIA preempts much state law involving slaughterhouses, it thus leaves some room for the States to regulate.”).

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