HUNTSVILLE — The Weber County Sheriff’s Office said Tuesday it has closed an investigation into the alleged beating of pigs at a Huntsville-area farm and there will be no criminal charges.
“Those involved sought legal counsel and refused to speak with investigators,” sheriff’s office spokesperson Lt. Cortney Ryan said by email in response to a phone message asking for an update on the status of the case.
“The Weber County Attorney’s Office reviewed the case and declined to pursue criminal charges,” Ryan said.
County Attorney Christopher Allred said later Tuesday there was a lack of sufficient evidence to support charges.
“For example, we haven’t identified who actually engaged in the conduct,” he said. “Additionally, there are evidentiary problems with finding the pigs involved and their injuries. Philosophically, we would very much be interested in filing the case if we have sufficient evidence to do so.”
Earlier Tuesday, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals offered a reward of up to $5,000 for information leading to criminal convictions in the incident.
PETA publicized video it said was recorded March 15 at Jensen-Fowers Farm on State Road 39 east of Huntsville. The video showed two men kicking pigs in the face, beating them with a wooden plank and lifting them off the ground by their tails.
PETA said the actions seen in the video constitute “torture” as defined by Utah’s animal cruelty statute. A conviction on the third-degree felony could draw a prison sentence of up to five years.
“These men viciously kicked, beat, and tormented pigs in plain view for over an hour,” PETA senior vice president Daphna Nachminovitch said in a press release. “It’s up to the public to help catch these violent individuals in order to stop them from abusing other animals.”
PETA said a “concerned citizen” provided the video to the group, which has highlighted instances of alleged abuse by pig producers around the country.
The director of the Utah Pork Producers industry organization in a March interview condemned the actions seen on the video. The group said it does not tolerate animal abuse and that producers undergo extensive training on proper husbandry.
In an interview in March, Marian Martin of Billings, Montana, said she and her daughter own the Jensen-Fowers Farm, where the alleged abuse occurred. She said the farm is run by a hired manager and she planned to investigate the allegations.
Efforts to contact Martin on Tuesday were not immediately successful.