Good News For Indiana’s Turtles: State Says No More Snapperfest

Posted on August 2, 2012

Indiana Department of Natural Resources States that Live Turtles Will Not Be Used in Campground Festivities, Following Year of Investigation and Legal Legwork by Animal Advocates

For immediate release


Lisa Franzetta, Animal Legal Defense Fund
Megan Backus, Animal Legal Defense Fund

snapper turtleINDIANAPOLIS – The Indiana Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has announced that the abuse of turtles at the annual Ohio County event known as “Snapperfest,” where “contestants” demonstrate their prowess by pulling the heads of live turtles far outside of their shells, will not take place this summer. In an August 1 email to the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF), the DNR stated,

We have information from the owners of the campground that the portion of the event using live animals, namely turtles, will not be taking place this year. However, we will continue to monitor the situation. If you have any first-hand knowledge that laws are being broken or about to be broken involving turtles at this event, please share it with us so that it can be checked for compliance with the regulations.

This past January, ALDF, along with Best Friends Animal Society, submitted a petition for rulemaking to the DNR, arguing that a misinterpretation of state law had allowed for illegal cruelty at Snapperfest. Recklessly, knowingly, or intentionally neglecting a vertebrate animal, as was documented in undercover video taken during last year’s Snapperfest, is a Class A misdemeanor in Indiana. Following ALDF’s petition for rulemaking, the DNR asserted that the state cruelty law does in fact apply to the turtles swung by their tails, repeatedly dropped and thrown to the ground, and yanked head-first out of their shells by their necks in Snapperfest’s cruel events.

Because footage from last year’s event showed a “Welcome to Snapperfest” banner with a Budweiser logo, Anheuser-Busch issued a statement to ALDF clarifying that neither they nor their local wholesaler was a sponsor of Snapperfest, adding that “For more than a century, we have prided ourselves on our reputation for treating animals with respect….” Meanwhile, thousands of activists up-in-arms over the cruel event have signed online petitions urging an end to the violent “festivities” of Snapperfest.

“Since it began in 1996, Snapperfest has been a shame on the state of Indiana, and compassionate citizens from around the world have been up-in-arms about this pathetic event since undercover video of participants abusing turtles for a cheap thrill came to light,” says ALDF director of litigation Carter Dillard. “We’re hopeful the campground makes good on its word to the state of Indiana to leave live turtles out of any summer events this year–and we will look to the state to take swift action against anyone acting in violation of animal protection laws.”

Footage of the 2011 Snapperfest investigation is available upon request.

19 thoughts on “Good News For Indiana’s Turtles: State Says No More Snapperfest

  1. Alicia Zaludova says:

    I had no idea something like this took place. I am glad to hear that it is coming to an end. So glad your organization exists. Thanks for all you do.

  2. dee ann flowers says:

    Wow, this is just incredible to think that people actually do these horrific things to animals! Ugh, embarrassed to live in Indiana right now.

  3. Thank you! I called in protest over this cruelty last year. I am grateful this horrific event is banished.

  4. Kim says:

    If somebody (like a local herp club) was really on the ball, they could work with the campground to try and replace this cruelty with a celebration of turtles/other herps; the party event could go on in a new spirit of appreciation.

    Most people love turtles. I suppose an “ugly” “mean” one like the snapper gave these jerks an excuse to go in the wrong direction.

    Hawk Mountain in PA was once the site of mass shootings of migrating hawks; now it’s a premier migration monitoring site for scientists, birders and just appreciators of hawks.

  5. Kimmy says:

    You people are no better then the nazis that killed the Jews! Why ban this event damn people pretty soon were not going to be able to do anything! like sticks of fireworks up a frogs ass and so forth go get a life you old hags! Kimberly

  6. cristiane says:

    I am outraged to learn that in a country of the world’s first case of such a barbarity!!! I hope this news is true about the ban this awful practice!!!!

  7. Barry P says:

    I followed this closely last year and was very disturbed by the ignorance of those who put on this event. I live fairly close and made an attempt to attend to see firsthand what was happening but was turned away. I did my best to make others aware of what was happening and even those who aren’t active in animal welfare were in agreement that this wasn’t something that should be celebrated nor condoned. I am happy to see a positive result in something I was close to. Kudos to ALDF! If anyone is on the fence about donating to the ALDF, even a small amount, here’s proof that they are making a difference. Thanks again and keep up the great work!

  8. John says:

    Wow Kimmy, It’s truly amazing that you can point to one of the worst crimes in the history of mankind and yet are totally cluless to the paralel of your torturing and killing of other sentient beings. I would excercise a little more care in identifying who the real Nazis are.

  9. James says:

    Thank you so much for what you did here.

  10. Wendy Duffus says:

    OK, this looks ‘official’ enough – time to celebrate!! I hope the organizers don’t try and pull a fast one!

  11. Amber Slaughterbeck says:

    Hoosiers should be ashamed of themselves. I have never been more ashamed to live in Indiana. Jerks. I support the protection of all animals. Especially Snappers. In Terre Haute, IN my friends and I have saved over 1300 turtles from dying on highway 150/40. Snappers are just as important as the Bald eagle. Turtles need more protection in this state. People have zero regard for things they don’t understand.

  12. Susan Mohring says:

    It’s obvious those running the event knew animal cruelty was taking place, otherwise they would not have turned away anyone trying to get in last year to view the event. It’s a shame all those snappers/softshells had to suffer as they did over the years so men could show how manly or brave they are. This event would have been closed down long ago in any other state due to the cruelty taking place. Thanks to the ALDF and the thousands and thousands involved for working hard to show what was actually taking place and for giving a voice to the turtles which could not speak for themselves.

  13. Patty says:

    I also agree with Wendy…looks official enough but sure hoping these organizers don’t try to have this event somewhere else or worse, go underground with it! I belong to our local TURTLE RESCUE and have shovels and boxes in my cars trunk to help rescue any turtles and have also run severely injured turtles to the vet hospital. Anybody that abuses animals in this way for “FUN” or any way for that matter, needs WATCHING!!!!! My fingers remain crossed!

  14. rhonda burrows says:

    Thanks everyone who won this battle! I had no idea! I always stop and pick up turtles on the road who may get run over; they don’t like it at all, but I am giving them the tough love routine! I have had a snapper try to bite me; but of course he was afraid, not knowing I was trying to save his life. I don’t understand why some people don’t get that turtles have feelings; fear, pain, hunger. Great victory everyone!

  15. ann says:

    To Kimmy I believe you are unintelligently and sadly mistaken as to who/whom the Old Hags are. I feel sorry for such microencephalacs such as yourself. Go acquire an education to fill your void, seeing that you have nothing to do. Then possibly, not likely though, you might be able to acquire a heart.

  16. Carol Carter says:

    I can’t believe I’d never heard of this horrific event! So glad other “critter” lovers took action to put a stop to it!

  17. deb thar says:

    Just checking to make sure “Snapperfest” has been stopped for good. Any information about it? Possibly it is being held elsewhere or being called something else? Any way to check on this?

  18. Chester says:

    You could call Indiana Department of Natural Resources and check.

  19. Wendy says:

    Like, Deb, I too was wondering if this horrific practice has had a reincarnation anywhere . . . ? I hope not. I spend hours and hours and hundreds of my own dollars each turtle season here in Ontario bringing in hurt turtles to our native turtle hospital for care and then taking the ones that survive back to their home territory. I was appalled at Snapperfest when I first heard about it and have wondered if it’s truly gone or if it will pop up somewhere else this summer. :(

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