Yak Shot 15 Times in the Head; PETA Seeks Criminal Probe

For Immediate Release:
June 30, 2022

David Perle 202-483-7382

Palmer, Alaska

PETA has obtained a U.S. Department of Agriculture report revealing a recent violation of law at Alaska Meat Packers Inc. in Palmer, in which a worker shot a yak in the head approximately 15 times, during which the animal remained standing, blinking, and tossing his head before collapsing after the final shot. In response, the group sent a letter today to Palmer District Attorney Melissa Wininger-Howard calling on her to review the matter and, as appropriate, file criminal cruelty-to-animals charges against the worker responsible.

“This disturbing report shows that this yak experienced a prolonged, agonizing death at Alaska Meat Packers,” says PETA Senior Vice President Daphna Nachminovitch. “PETA is calling for a criminal investigation on behalf of this yak and is 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” and which opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview—points out that yaks, cows, sheep, pigs, chickens, and other animals feel pain and fear and value their lives, just as humans do. The group is pursuing charges under state law because federal officials haven’t prosecuted any inspected slaughterhouses for acts of abuse such as those at Alaska Meat Packers since at least 2007.

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 Wininger-Howard follows.

June 30, 2022

The Honorable Melissa J. Wininger-Howard

Palmer District Attorney

Dear Ms. Wininger-Howard:

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 individual responsible for shooting a conscious yak in the head 15 times over the course of approximately 11 minutes on June 3 at Alaska Meat Packers Inc., a slaughterhouse located at 385 E. Outer Springer Loop in Palmer. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) documented the incident in the attached report, which states the following:

[Alaska Meat Packers Inc. personnel] put a mature bull yak into the squeeze chute and shot [him] in the head with a .38 caliber pistol. The initial stun was ineffective and the knocker continued to shoot [the yak] with the same pistol approximately 15 times, about 45 seconds between shots, until [he] finally collapsed. In between shots I was able to look and see that the yak was still standing, blinking, and tossing [his] head.1

This conduct may violate AS § 11.61.140. 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 Given that FSIS has not initiated a criminal prosecution of a licensed slaughterhouse for inhumane handling since at least 2007, charges under state law are this victim’s only chance at a measure of justice.

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


Colin Henstock

Assistant Manager of Investigations

1FSIS District 15 Manager Dr. Robert Reeder, Denial of Voluntary Services, Alaska Meat Packers Inc. (June 3, 2022) https://www.fsis.usda.gov/sites/default/files/media_file/2022-06/DOVS-EST20891MPV-06032022.pdf. Last accessed June 27, 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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