PETA raises concerns about Air Force Academy's use of rabbits in training

Published: Jun. 29, 2016 at 6:15 PM MDT
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People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA, is raising concerns over the U.S. Air Force Academy's use of rabbits and chickens for cadet's survival training.

The training aims to teach cadets how to live in the wilderness if they have to, while they dodge enemy forces, part of which is finding food.

PETA says public records show that the rabbits used in these training exercise are killed, skinned, and cooked.

In an interview with 11 News, PETA said those records also show the Academy has spent thousands of dollars to buy these animals from unlicensed dealers.

Some 11 News viewers in Colorado Springs say the training is necessary — others don't agree.

"I think that it's a good practice, because you never know when you're going to be out there without any food or water and they need to survive and they need to learn how to do that, they really do,” Corey Steinberg said.

"Instead of having animals raised to intentionally slaughter and train – put the soldiers out in the wilderness and test their skills to find the food they need to survive,” Cody Wickle said.

PETA has brought complaints to the U.S. Air Force Headquarters, along with the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

PETA said some military units never use animals and others have even ended the practice.

"Having training where you're provided with a docile domesticated rabbit doesn't in any way provide you to survive in the wilderness. The U.S. Department of Defense has a policy that requires the use of non-animal training methods when they are available,” said Senior Laboratory Methods Specialist with PETA, Shalin Gala.

A U.S. Air Force Headquarters spokesperson told 11 News they value the treatment of animals consistent with the U.S. Department of Defense’s policy. They said they are reviewing the issues raised in the letter from PETA.

For now, survival training goes on as before.

The Academy's survival program has been going on since the 1960s, according to The Colorado Springs Gazette.