PETA pulls wool over eyes

Jo FulwoodThe West Australian

An emotive anti-shearing social media campaign by animal-activist group PETA has been hijacked by a barrage of angry responses from across the country.

Publicised through Facebook, the campaign depicts a severely cut sheep being held by Australian musician Jona Weinhofen, from the band I Killed the Prom Queen.

According to the PETA campaign, the bloody image is what most sheep used for wool look like after shearing.

"Share the heartbreaking truth," the post says.

However, in an attempt to defuse the hundreds of angry comments swamping its Facebook page, PETA has admitted the animal depicted in the photo was not real.

"You do realise that isn't a real animal being held in his arms? It's a depiction of what sheep go through," the PETA comment stated.

"We have plenty of photographs and video on our website taken from actual farms."

While receiving an onslaught of angry criticism for the posting, the campaign has been shared across the Facebook social media platform almost 25,000 times.

One respondent replied to the posting, saying if any shearer "did that to a sheep, they would no longer have jobs".

"PETA, you really need to do better research and get the correct facts before scaremongering those that do not know any better," she said.

Hundreds of comments on Facebook echoed these sentiments.

Speaking at a press conference on Monday, Federal Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce has labelled the campaign a "load of rubbish".

Mr Joyce said shearers he had spoken to felt insulted by what had been alleged by PETA.

"Everything they (PETA) do is not based on a premise of logic, it's not based with any knowledge of the industry and it's not based with any empathy of the people within it. It's a cloud cuckoo land world they want to take us to," he said.

WAFarmers president Dale Park said he was disgusted at PETA's tactics, saying campaigns of this nature pointed to the heart of their credibility as an action group.

"Eventually people will understand that PETA very rarely tells the truth, and in this case, they've been caught out again," he said.

"Eventually it will catch up with them, and people will start distrusting what they say.

"Why would we believe anything that PETA says now? They are simply unethical."

PGA Western Sheep and Beef Producers chairman Digby Stretch said the campaign was not a realistic representation of WA's wool industry.

"No one that I know of would treat an animal in that way or would tolerate that sort of standard of shearing," he said.

"The picture highlights PETA's actions in making an unrealistic representation of our industry in their quest to gain some form of traction in their animal activism stance."

Peak wool industry representative body, WoolProducers Australia, has refuted the PETA claims. According to a spokeswoman, Australian woolgrowers protect the health and welfare of their sheep through a variety of practices.

"Sheep producers are continually investing in sheep health and welfare. Over the last five years, more than $50 million has been spent on research and development, biosecurity, health and welfare programs," she said.

"However, this recent campaign by PETA has seen them resorting to using a fake lamb supposedly showing the after-effects of shearing, which is clearly deceitful and misrepresentative of the usual practice of shearing."

Australian Wool Innovation declined to comment.

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