Consumers and retailers, including J.Crew and Ralph Lauren, are being urged by animal rights activist group PETA to stop purchasing and selling wool after an undercover investigation revealed animal abuse in wool industries in Australia and the U.S.
PETA documented 70 workers, who were employed by nine shearing contractors, abusing sheep in Victoria, New South Wales and South Australia, and found neglect and abuse of sheep at 14 ranches across Wyoming, Colorado and Nebraska in the U.S.
The footage filmed by PETA from Oct. 2013 to May 2014 depicts sheepshearers punching, kicking and throwing sheep during their shearing sessions. One clip shows a shearer twisting and breaking a sheep’s neck. Others show shearers jabbing at the sheep’s eyes and hitting them on the head with a hammer.
Claire Fryer, PETA’s Australian campaign coordinator, revealed that a number of shearers were aware that cameras were in place and noted that no one was remanded for any of the abuse.
Global industry groups have condemned the behavior captured in PETA’s footage. The Shearing Contractors’ Association of Australia announced that it is “appalled by the footage” and “applauds the investigation.” WoolProducers Australia president Geoff Fisken said the behavior shown in the footage was “unacceptable and unsupportable.”
An American Sheep Industry Association representative denounced the rough handling of animals. The executive director of the Colorado Wool Growers Association joined PETA’s call for prosecution and said of the video, “Everything about that was wrong.” PETA reported that U.S. law enforcement investigations are underway in Wyoming and Colorado.
As a leading seller of merino wool in the U.S., PETA has targeted J.Crew to set a standard for the industry. PETA supporters gathered outside the retailer’s flagship store in New York City last week and screened footage from its wool exposÃ©. Last year, in a separate investigation, PETA swayed J.Crew to stop selling fur.