PETA alleges Turtleman abused coyote in Waddy

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Complaint stems from 2013 Animal Planet episode

By Lisa King

Animal advocates are investigating a report of animal cruelty that is alleged to have taken place in Waddy last spring during the filming of an episode of Animal Planet.

Delcianna Winders, deputy general counsel for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, PETA, said in May 2013 a coyote was trapped and transported to a location in Waddy where the show, Call of the Wildman, starring Ernie “Turtleman” Brown Jr., was filmed.

She said that the coyote was apparently abused for the three days before and during the filming, adding that the show was structured to make it seem like the coyote was wild and they were trying to capture it.

“It’s chased around, obviously very terrified and in distress, and then dragged by the tail by the star of the show and then dragged around the room and repeatedly lifted up by the tail until it’s tossed into a cage,” she said.

“PETA has filed a complaint with the Kentucky Wildlife Agency, as well as with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services. We believe that various laws were violated by leaving an ailing animal in that cage for three days. I did hear back from the Kentucky agency [Fish and Wildlife] who assured me that they will investigate this.”

Officials from Fish and Wildlife did not return phone calls from The Sentinel-News.

However, no one in Waddy seems to have heard about the incident, or even that an episode of Call of the Wildman had been filmed there.

“This is the first I’ve heard about it,” said Waddy Fire Chief Darrell Brown.

Ron Lois, president of the Waddy Ruritan Club, said the only thing related to wild animals he heard about were the animal attacks on livestock in late 2012.

Former Animal Control Director Rusty Newton said he has not heard anything from Fish and Wildlife about the matter.

“If Fish and Wildlife had heard about it I’m sure they would be contacting us, but we have not heard anything from Fish and Wildlife,” he said. “I’ve not received any word at all.”

Winders said that PETA officials learned of the abuse through an investigation launched by Mother Jones, an independent news organization focused on investigative and breaking news.

An article published by Mother Jones on March 24 states that in an episode titled "Lured into Danger," which first aired in July 2013, Brown lured and trapped a coyote while the cameras were rolling in a barn purportedly owned by an animal psychic. The article said the segment was filmed on May 10 in Waddy, three days after the photo of the trapped coyote was taken in Bowling Green by an unidentified source.

Newton said that if the incident were brought to his attention Shelby County Animal Control would investigate it.

“It would be for us to investigate it, yes, but it would left up to law enforcement to bring charges,” he said.

“For us, as county government, that would be the sheriff’s office, but if they turned it over to Fish and Wildlife, it would be entirely up to them.”

Sheriff Mike Armstrong said he had not heard of any reports of animal cruelty involving a coyote.

“I’m not aware that we’re looking into anything like that,” he said.

Newton said that outside of animal cruelty, any other charges would up to law enforcement.

“First of all, you have to have evidence and find out exactly what happened before you can file charges,” he said. “So without having any information, it would hard for me to even estimate what that would be.”

Officials from Animal Planet did not return phone calls from The Sentinel-News.