PETA says swamp tour operator inhumanely beat alligator
Chris Miller Reporting
Animal activists want charges pursued against a swamp tour operator in St. Martin Parish who is seen on video bopping an alligator over the head with a plastic oar.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals saw the video, of swamp tour operator Bryan Champagne hitting an alligator on the top of its snout with the plastic boat paddle. Kristin Simon with PETA says it should be considered animal cruelty.
"We believe it falls under the realm of torment to repeatedly smack an alligator in the face with an oar," Simon said. "When you watch this video, it appears that the person in this video is promoting inhumane and unsafe interactions with wildlife."
St. Martin Parish prosecutor Chester Cedars says he's seen the video and doesn't believe Champagne's actions rise to the level of animal cruelty.
"I would not characterize as "hitting" or more importantly I wouldn't characterize it as cruelly beating the animal or unjustifiably injuring him," said Cedars. "To get the alligator to move, he was prodding him with the plastic boat paddle, a pretty severe act of stupidity, but it's not a crime to be stupid."
The Department of Wildlife and Fisheries issued two citations against Champagne: simple cruelty to animals and possession of a live alligator without a permit.
Cedars says based on the video evidence, it will be difficult to prove Champagne was intentionally trying to hurt the alligator.