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Hollywood actor joins Bacon Bash protest

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Posted: Wednesday, May 29, 2019 12:00 pm

A top Hollywood actor added his name last week to the protest against what critics call animal cruelty in the Bandera Bacon Bash wild hog-catching event and backed critics’ efforts to get the event banned.

Woody Harrelson, a Midland native known for his role in the popular television series “Cheers” and in movies like “Natural Born Killers,” “The Hunger Games” and “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri,” sent a letter to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, saying he “was shocked to learn about the cruelty that pigs are subjected to” at the Bacon Bash, a fundraiser once known as the Wild Hog Explosion that changed its name to the Bacon Bash when it got a new sponsor, the Bandera Wranglers, this year.

The Wranglers denied again that the event the organization took on this year after its prior sponsor, the Bandera County Public Library’s board of directors, decided it could not hold it was a form of animal cruelty. 

The Wranglers said Harrelson’s comments would have no impact on its commitment to hold the hog-catching event again next year, although under a different name.

Harrelson’s letter referenced what happened at this year’s Bacon Bash, held on March 16 in Mansfield Park and recorded by officials with the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA.  That organization last month initiated the effort to get Abbott to shut down the event and others like it.

Harrelson’s letter said the recordings showed “screaming, frightened pigs” being chased around an arena, grabbed and dragged though the sand.  The letter said participants in the timed chasing event tackled, jumped on and hit the pigs, and “event staff kicked them in the head.”

“This violent spectacle encourages children and adults alike to scare, inure and torment animals for entertainment,” the letter adds.  “The world doesn’t need more bullies.”

Harrelson has a right to his opinion, but that opinion does not accurately reflect what happened at the Bacon Bash, said Brandon Nicholson, the vice president of the Wranglers.

Nicholson said the actor’s opinion did little but repeat observations already made by PETA, which released information about Harrelson’s protest on Thursday, May 23.

Harrelson’s letter said since Texas law prohibits actions that inflict “unnecessary and unjustified pain and suffering on animals,” the governor should make sure the law is upheld by issuing a executive order banning the event.

The governor’s office has had no comment on the request PETA made to outlaw hog-catching events, which the organization unveiled in an April 10 news conference, or on Harrelson’s intervention.

PETA also filed a complaint with the Bandera County Sheriff asking that cruelty to animal charges be filed against the organizer of the event.

That complaint was transferred first to the District Attorney’s office for the 198th Judicial District in Kerrville and from there to the Texas Attorney General’s office for assessment.

As of last week, no response from the Attorney General was available.

The only organization that had responded to PETA’s complaint about the fundraising event was the Texas Animal Health Commission, which handled complaints about how the wild hogs at the Bacon Bash were handled and transported.

The commission issued a warning letter to the Wranglers about regulations that should be followed in the handling of wild hogs at the show and said a complaint could be filed against the event sponsor in the future if additional handling or transportation issues arise.

Nicholson said the Wranglers will make sure to have all the permits needed to transport and handle the hogs next year.

The group also will seek to have a representative from the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension service and perhaps from the animal health commission on hand to assure the event is in compliance with state regulations.

The criticism has not shaken the Wranglers’ support or the community’s support for the hog-catching event, which has been used as fundraisers first for the library board and this year for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Bandera County, said Nicholson.

Organizers said criticism the event drew from an online-based animal rights organization may have attracted larger crowds than normal to this year’s Bacon Bash.

It’s a competition in which teams strive to capture hogs, place them in a bag and get them across the finish line in the fastest time possible.  While the event is being planned again for next year, it will need to find a new name.

“Bacon Bash” has been copyrighted by another organization that puts on a similar event, so the Wranglers complied with a request to drop that name and will look for another one, said Nicholson.

The Wranglers could hold a public competition to come up with a new name and logo for the event, the vice president said.

Anyone who has an idea about the name can submit it through the organization’s website, or its Facebook page.

  • Discuss

Welcome to the discussion.


  • HMOORE123 posted at 2:50 pm on Wed, May 29, 2019.

    HMOORE123 Posts: 2

    Good for Woody! Such cruelty is hideous. Pigs are friendly, loyal, and intelligent, much like dogs. It’s cruel to raise and kill them for food. and exploit them for "fun."

  • KimMarie108 posted at 2:10 pm on Wed, May 29, 2019.

    KimMarie108 Posts: 1

    Harrelson is right - the world does NOT need more bullies. Promoting cruelty to anyone, including animals, is callous and regressive. We need to encourage nonviolence, inclusiveness, and harm-free fun instead.

  • CAShapiro posted at 2:04 pm on Wed, May 29, 2019.

    CAShapiro Posts: 2

    Thank you, Woody! Torturing animals doesn't fit my definition of entertainment. Here's hoping the governor does the right thing.

  • LucyP posted at 2:01 pm on Wed, May 29, 2019.

    LucyP Posts: 2

    Good for Woody. No animal deserves to be terrorized, chased around, grabbed by the legs, tackled, and shoved into a bag. It's time to end this shameful spectacle.

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