AUSTIN (KXAN) — This week people may notice a truck circling downtown Austin carrying a message to state lawmakers to end events where people chase and catch pigs for entertainment.
PETA, the national animals rights organization, announced that a mobile billboard will drive around the Capitol building, the Governor’s Mansion and near the Governor’s office.
The sign pulled by the truck reads, “The Wild Pig Chase: A Texas Disgrace. Governor Abbott: End It Now.” It also depicts a man in a flannel shirt trying to bag a screaming hog.
This roving protest references the Bandera Ham Rodeo, which features an annual event called the “hog catch.” Bandera is a city located about 110 miles southwest of Austin.
In a news release sent out Monday, PETA President Ingrid Newkirk said, “Tormenting panicked pigs is a twisted take on ‘entertainment’ and a stain on the Lone Star State’s reputation. A wild pig feels pain and fear just as much as a dog, a cat, or a human does, and PETA is calling on Governor Abbott to end these cruel spectacles immediately.”
PETA published a lengthy article online earlier this year condemning the event. The organization said it featured wild pigs getting “tackled, hit, kicked in the head, injured, grabbed by the tail or ears, dragged around the arena by the legs, and shoved into sacks.”
KXAN reached out Monday to the Bandera Wranglers, which organizes the Bandera Ham Rodeo. The group’s president, Nick Barron, addressed PETA’s protest in his own statement.
“This Bandera Ham Rodeo is Ranch style rodeo event and serves as Training not only children but adults how to safely handle these dangerous animals,” Barron wrote. “We try to educate the community [about] the hog epidemic, the hogs are trapped locally, fed and watered, and after the event sent to an approved slaughter facility. This event generates enough charitable funds to allow us to support Christmas toy drives, Thanks giving food drives, Highway Clean ups and other community related events, organizations and charities. We support those in need, we take care of the environment, and we help to decrease, even if it’s only a truck load a year, Texas’s hog population.”
Barron, however, said PETA’s mobile billboard will only raise the profile for his organization’s next event in March 2020.
“We will not be bullied,” he wrote. “We will not back down, the event will continue to grow under the Bandera Wranglers and continue to support our community.”
KXAN is awaiting a response from Gov. Abbott’s office about the roving billboard.