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PETA asks Idaho sheriff’s office to investigate animal cruelty on Discovery Channel


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SALMON (Idaho Statesman) — The animal rights organization People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is asking an Idaho sheriff’s office to investigate claims of animal cruelty stemming from a clip in a Discovery Channel television show, according to a PETA news release.

On Thursday, PETA sent a letter to the Lemhi County Sheriff’s Office asking officials to investigate Ron Ens for cruelty to animals. PETA alleged that Ens can be seen in an episode of Discovery Channel’s “River of No Return” striking a horse with a hammer.

The show, which premiered on Oct. 6, focuses on people who live in the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness in Central Idaho. Ens, who operates Middle Fork Outfitters and B Bar C Ranch, is one of the main individuals featured in the show. On its website, Discovery Channel describes Ens as “a modern day cowboy.”

In its letter to the Lemhi County Sheriff’s Office, PETA said the incident in question happened in the fourth episode of the show, which aired on Oct. 27.

“In the … excerpt, a male adult forcefully strikes a tethered horse with a metal driving (shoeing) hammer during an apparent farrier session, sending the animal reeling off in pain and fright,” says the PETA letter, which includes a link to the excerpt.

“This obviously anger-driven attack likely caused trauma to sensitive soft tissue and, as you surely are aware, was in no way commensurate with standard and accepted agricultural practices,” the PETA letter continues.

The letter, written by PETA’s emergency response division manager Kristin Rickman, cites Idaho Code 25-3504 on animal cruelty. The code reads: “Every person who is cruel to any animal, or who causes or procures any animal to be cruelly treated, or who, having the charge or custody of any animal either as owner or otherwise, subjects any animal to cruelty shall, upon conviction, be punished in accordance with section 25-3520A, Idaho Code.”

In part, Idaho code defines animal cruelty as “intentional and malicious infliction of pain, physical suffering, injury or death upon an animal.”

PETA has also urged the Discovery Channel to take the episode off the air and no longer include Ens in future programming. The Wrap, a national TV magazine, reports the scene will be removed from the episode on television and online.

On Thursday afternoon, an official with the Lemhi County Sheriff’s Office confirmed that the agency had received PETA’s letter. reached out to Sheriff’s Steve Penner on Friday. He had no comment on the video or any possible investigation.

The Statesman also reached out to Ens by phone. He said he was aware of the letter and had no comment.

“The cruelty of striking a horse with a hammer shouldn’t be tolerated by Idaho’s law enforcement,” said PETA senior vice president Lisa Lange in the organization’s news release. “PETA is calling for an investigation of this abuser — and urging the Discovery Channel to pull the episode immediately if it doesn’t want to risk normalizing violence against animals.”

It’s not the first time PETA has brought its activist efforts to Idaho. In July, the organization asked Caldwell Mayor Garret Nancolas to change the name of Chicken Dinner Road to “one that celebrates chickens as individuals, not as beings to kill, chop up, and label as ‘dinner.’”