Prosecutor in KFC Supplier Case Receives Threats from Animal Rights Extremists

WAVE 3 TV reported recently that a special prosecutor assigned to look at allegations of animal cruelty at Pilgrim’s Pride — which supplies chickens to KFC — has received so many threats that an FBI agent has been assigned the task of investigating each of them.

In 2004, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals made public a videotape showing employees of Pilgrim’s Pride in West Virginia kicking, stomping and slamming chickens against walls. In January 2005, however, special prosecutor Ginny Conley announced she wasn’t bringing charges because the videotape was so dark and grainy it was impossible to identify specific individuals for prosecution. She also cited concern that since the alleged abuse took place at a slaughterhouse, that it wasn’t covered by the state’s animal cruelty statutes.

Conley subsequently received enough additional information against those in the video to take her case to a grand jury in June. The grand jury, however, refused to indict the identified individuals.

Pilgrim’s Pride fired 11 people connected to the incidents on the videotape.

Conley told the Associated Press and WAVE 3 TV that she regularly receives harassing e-mails and letters from animal rights extremists, some of which include threats. She told WAVE 3,

There was even an FBI person provided to me to monitor it because the harassment got to such a level.

PETA, for its part, stuck with its “we don’t condone it, but we really do” line. PETA’s Dan Shannon told WAVE TV that PETA doesn’t condone the threats, but added that,

At the same time, you can understand how somebody would be so upset by these animals being tortured and abused, thrown against walls and torn apart. They might be moved with that level of passion.

Reminds me of the time that Shannon said PETA didn’t condone throwing fake blood at KFC’s CEO, while Bruce Friedrich was off doing just that.

The kicker is that Conley told the Associated Press that the harassment from animal rights activists made it harder to focus on making a case against the Pilgrim’s Pride workers,

Special prosecutor Ginny Conley had previously said she had no evidence to warrant criminal charges, but said Wednesday that more evidence had been found that persuaded her to present the case to a grand jury. Pressure from the animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals did little to sway her, she said.

“In fact, if anything, the harassment I received from PETA was very intrusive on me performing my duties as prosecutor,” said Conley. “However, after I gained the additional information I received, I felt it at least warranted presentation to the citizens of Hardy County.”


PETA supporters upset workers on video abusing chickens won’t be charged. Erick Flack, WAVE TV 3, July 19, 2005.

Jury Won’t Indict Chicken Plant Workers. Associated Press, June 8, 2005.

Friends of Animals Wants End to West Virginia's "Youth in the Outdoors" Program

In September Friends of Animals called on West Virginia Governor Bob Wise to put an end to that state’s “Youth in the Outdoors” hunting program for children 8-17.

In a press release, FOA president Priscilla Feral said,

At any age, to kill a living, conscious being and call it sport is one of the most troubling ideas modern society has yet to come to grips with.

The FOA press release goes on to say,

Most children have a natural affinity for animals. Urging young people to suppress that feeling, to choose to cause death, and even to associate all of this with a day’s outing, is not sound public policy. It prepares children to engage in violence, while stunting their potential to seek more creative futures.

In a press release from the West Virginia Department of Natural Resources, Wise says of the “Youth in the Outdoors” program (which includes an essay contest),

This is an exciting program because it encourages the contestants to do some research and practice their writing skills, and the winners have the opportunity to learn more about our stateÂ’s wildlife and fish management programs. ItÂ’s also a great chance for them to be exposed to career opportunities they might not see otherwise, and to have some fun at the same time.

According to the DNR,

The essay contest is only one part of the GovernorÂ’s Youth in the Outdoors Program. The WVDNR and several private organizations have created a series of events, including two different youth deer hunts, a youth squirrel hunt, the construction of two new fishing lakes in Kanawha and Logan counties just for youth and physically-challenged anglers, and the ongoing GovernorÂ’s Outdoor Youth Challenge competition which has been held each year during the National Hunting and Fishing Days Celebration at Stonewall Jackson Lake State Park. This event challenges the participantsÂ’ skills in .22 rifle shooting, bow shooting, clay target shooting, casting, distance estimation, West Virginia fish identification and a written exam on state hunting and fishing laws and safety rules. The Senior Division also includes a muzzleloader shoot. The Junior (10-13) event is held on Saturday and the Senior (14-17) event on Sunday. The challenge has been such a success that it has been expanded from 50 to 100 kids in the two age groups.


FoA urges West Virginia Governor Bob Wise: Give Children a Chance to Reach Their Best Potential. Press Release, Friends of Animals, September 23, 2004.

Governor’s Youth in Outdoors. Press Release, West Virginia Department of Natural Resources, 2003.