Animal Planet is once again under scrutiny following an investigation that alleges the production company behind its popular reality series “Call of the Wildman” are guilty of animal abuse and violations against Kentucky state law.
At the request of the production company Sharp Entertainment, a licensed nuisance wildlife control operator was hired to stage the capture of a wild coyote – with the intent of using the animal at a later time on its “Call of the Wildman,” series. Data analysis and internal documents note that the coyote was held for three days crammed in a very small metal cage. Apparently, the wildlife control operator did not have a permit and Kentucky regulations prohibit anyone from restraining captured wildlife beyond a forty-eight hour period.
Internal production documents also indicate that Sharp Entertainment defied state law by importing another coyote from out-of-state. By the time the production company was ready to use the first coyote for a shoot, the animal was “sick and unresponsive.” Instead of canceling the show, the production team hired Kokas Exotics, an Ohio farm that breeds and raises exotic animals. They paid them five hundred dollars to bring in a replacement coyote, which is in violation of Kentucky law that bans the out-of-state importation of coyotes.
Although representatives for Animal Planet and Sharp Entertainment refused to comment, Sharp’s Vice President Dan Adler denied the practice of snaring animals deliberately for the reality show and insisted that the “coyote in question was determined to be sick by the licensed officers on location, and the determination was made not to film with it because production policy is not to film with sick or injured animals.”
Although Adler sounds as if he was concerned for the coyote, it is rather ironic that the producers still brought the sick coyote to the filming location. According to a production source and internal communications, the coyote was brought as a backup, “just in case something happens.”
Animal rights groups are already turning to legislative measures to ensure the allegations against Sharp Entertainment are not brushed aside by authorities, as well as calling for the show (which is still under investigation for animal care violations in Houston, Texas) to be axed.
“It appears that numerous Kentucky animal-protection laws were violated in the way that this ailing coyote was handled, and PETA is filing a complaint with the Kentucky Department of Fish & Wildlife Resources,” announced People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), Foundation Deputy Counsel, Delcianna Winders. “PETA will also file a complaint with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service regarding numerous apparent violations of the federal Lacey Act in the production of this episode of ‘Call of the Wildman’ and numerous others.”
Nicole Paquette, Vice President for Wildlife Protection for The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), asserted that it is a network’s responsibility to ensure that all laws are complied with and referred to the alleged actions of “Call of the Wildman” as “shameful.”
“We hope networks that guided reality shows reconsider including these types of staged shows that place animals in harm’s way,” she added. “The only way to ensure no animals used for protection are harmed is not to use them.”
Photo Credit: Mother Jones