Tuesday, October 20, 2020
PETA Proposes a Sculpture to Accompany Trailing of the Sheep Monument
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Danny D. Edwards created a similar sheep monument that’s displayed in Hagerman.
   
Friday, October 9, 2020
 

STORY AND PHOTOS BY KAREN BOSSICK

A bronze sculpture celebrating the sheep heritage of the Wood River Valley could get an accompanying sculpture from no other than PETA—people for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

PETA wants to erect a 6-foot-tall statue depicting a sheep being sheared. The statue would pay tribute to “the millions of gentle, intelligent sheep who are beaten, stomped on, kicked, cut and mutilated in the wool industry each year,” wrote Tracy Reiman, the organization’s executive vice president.

Reiman addressed her letter to Michelle Johnson of the Hailey Arts & Historic Preservation Commission. She said her organization, which has 6.5 million supporters worldwide and nearly 22,000 in Idaho, would donate the statue to the city.

 
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David Brennan, seen here shearing sheep from the Flat Top Sheep Ranch near Carey, says the average ewe can be shorn in two to three minutes.
 

And she said, she would like to set up a portable TV at the unveiling that would screen footage from PETA’s exposes of the wool industry.

“The installation of this statue would serve as a stark reminder to Hailey residents that one of the best ways to prevent violence against sheep is never to buy their wool,” she added.

John and Diane Peavey, who own the Flat Top Sheep Ranch near Carey and who co-founded the Trailing of the Sheep Festival, promptly defended their industry against PETA’s charges.

“I served on the American Lamb Board for two terms and have watched as PETA has taken this and dragged it through community after community,” said Diane Peavey. “Apparently, they got some guy to pass himself off as a shearer and he got some footage of a really bad operation. It’s not an accurate representation of what happens in the sheep industry. I’d call it a scam.”

 
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Sheep from the Flat Top Sheep Ranch line up for their fall shearing.
 

John Peavey added that shearing sheep is actually a benevolent act for sheep because it helps them stay cooler during summer and keeps them from getting weighed down when rain saturates the wool.

“They’re next to the shearer when they’re being sheared. They don’t fight at all,” he said.

Reiman responded that PETA filmed exposes at a hundred operations on four continents, including several in the United States. The shearers are typically paid by the number of sheep sheared, which can lead to careless work leaving animals with gaping wounds, she said.

“The industry can’t pull the wool over anyone’s eyes because the video footage doesn’t lie,” she said.

 
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Danny D. Edwards’ sculpture is highly detailed.
 

A spokesperson for the American sheep Industry responded that those raising sheep in the United States take great pride in the care they provide for their animals and do not condone mistreatment.  Animal welfare is imperative for a successful business, she added.

“Wool ranchers are dedicated to the job of looking after their animals and keeping them healthy. Ranchers are always looking towards the best available animal practices to ensure good economic management of their business and optimum results in their produce,” said Rita Kourlis Samuelson, deputy director of the American Wool Council.

That includes providing food, water, protection from predators and preventative care, such as vaccinations, birthing assistance and supplements.

Shearing is a part of preventative care, according to the American Society of Animal Science, she added. And the sheep industry was the first in the livestock industry to provide its members with a Sheep Care Guide covering industry standards for sheep welfare.

“Sheep must be shorn regularly to prevent excess wool from interfering with their bodies’ ability to thermo-regulate. Excessive wool coats make sheep more vulnerable to becoming immobilized by physical obstacles in the environment and more susceptible to predator and parasite attacks,” Samuelson said.

The sculpture being created by Twin Falls sculptor Danny D. Edwards will feature 11 life-sized bronze sculptures featuring eight sheep parading ahead of a sheepherder, horse and dog. It’s designed to celebrate 150-plus years of the sheep industry in the Wood River Valley, according to John Peavey.

It’s scheduled to be unveiled in Fall 2021 at the 25th anniversary of the Trailing of the Sheep Festival. The Festival attracts people from all over the world as it tells the story of Navajo weavers, Basque sheepherders and others who have made their living via sheep. Sheep became the lifeblood of the Wood River Valley in the 1920s following the collapse of the mining industry.

Hailey Mayor Martha Burke said she had not heard about the complaint. But she added that the City had approved the sculpture as an appropriate way to honor Basque and Peruvian sheepherders who are woven into the fabric of the community’s heritage.

“What I like about the sculpture is that it depicts a shepherd leading his horse so it doesn’t get worn out,” she said. “I’m surprised this has come up. Even people in the community who disparage sheep were on board with honoring those in the industry.”

Joan Davies serves on both the Hailey Arts Commission and the Trailing of the Sheep board. As a youngster growing up near Hazelton, her family raised a small flock on the Greenwood farm. She recalls shearing them and stomping the wool down in bags that they would take to Utah to get a little extra spending money. She loves the idea of a statue depicting sheep being shorn but only if presented in the right vein.

“This is harsh,” she said of the PETA’s charges. “Wool is such a wonderful product. And the sheep don’t need all that wool. Every once in a while they might get a little nick from shearing, but usually they’re very relaxed when being sheared.”


 

 

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