Bizarre Legal Battle: PETA Seeks Damages From New Jersey State
Everyone knows PETA, the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, and everyone has their own opinion of the group and how they operate. Some love them, some hate them, but all know them. The New Jersey Fish and Wildlife Division certainly got to know them after an incident that occurred all the way back in 2001. Let’s look at how the incident unfolded.
Why Did the Deer Cross the Road?
Two members of PETA, Dan Shannon and Jay Kelly, were driving home after an anti-hunting rally around 1AM on November 16, when they were involved in an automobile crash after a deer leaped onto the road in front of them. The car and deer collided, and damage to the car, which belonged to PETA, was more than $6,000. The Honda Civic was not drivable for nearly two months due to the extensive repairs it needed.
It Must Be The Government’s Fault: Lets Sue
The driver and the passenger of the vehicle believed that the collision was the result of nearing the start of hunting season in New Jersey, and was therefore caused by the Department of Environmental Protection Fish and Wildlife Division and the Fish and Game Council due to the way they manage deer in the state. They claimed that the state was trying to increase the deer population for the hunters’ enjoyment despite the fact that it would put motorists at risk. (Question: How would they suggest, given PETA’s mandate, that the state reduce the deer population?) Their statement mentioned that they believed the deer was fleeing hunters’ guns, even though it was before the start of the season and the middle of the night. Also, hunters do not typically “chase” deer in the fashion they were describing.
It Must Be The Government’s Fault Anyway…
There was no actual evidence of hunters in the area (it was not yet hunting season), and many believe that it was more likely that the deer was crossing the road to find a mate (it was rutting season), or as the chicken does, to get to the other side. There could have been any number of reasons that the animal decided to cross the road at that moment, but PETA seemed to want to tie it into their own agenda. It certainly did help them to net some additional publicity.
While it is unfortunate for the driver, passenger, and deer that this incident occurred, things like this do happen all of the time. It’s not really possible to place the blame on a government organization when an animal simply behaves like an animal. There is a road that needs to be crossed, and they cross it. Bad timing can cause accidents, certainly. People who live in areas where deer, and other wild animals for that matter, inhabit know that there is always a chance of one of the creatures darting into the road, believing that they can get across safely.
The Irony of This Legal Dispute
There is certainly a bit of irony in this case too. PETA members coming home from an anti-hunting rally were in an accident with and killed the very creature they were trying to protect. Perhaps they felt bad about the incident and were trying to deflect the blame, and therefore the guilt, about killing the animal.
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