PETA attacks Elks' collecting of deer hides.


Mar 11, 2001
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PETA attacks Elks' collecting of deer hides.

By JASON CLAYWORTH, Des Moines Register Staff Writer.


A deer hide collection sponsored by the Iowa Elks Association has come under criticism from some animal-rights activists who say the activity encourages the "murder of innocent animals."

"It's the year 2001 and we're not cave people," said Lisa Franzetta, a national spokeswoman for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. "We don't need to kill animals for their skins."

This is the fourth year that Iowa Elks members are volunteering to collect deer hides from hunters. The hides are donated to the Iowa Veterans Home in Marshalltown and to another veterans home in Quincy, Ill., where they are made into such items as coats, moccasins, belts and wallets.

The activity supplements veterans' incomes and provides them recreational and occupational therapy, said Charles Fry, director of volunteer services at the Marshalltown facility.

"It's a great program," Fry said.

Iowa Elks Lodge members last year collected nearly 2,800 deer hides, along with two goat, a cow and seven elk pelts, said Dick Reed, state chairman of the Iowa Elks Hide Committee. Elks members salt the hides before taking them to a tannery.

"It's not the most glamorous job in the world," Reed said. "You get the hide in its raw form. They can get a little stinky."

This year state Elks hope they can double their collection. Reed said he is surprised by PETA's reaction, because his group is simply collecting a product that would otherwise be thrown away.

"We aren't murdering anything," Reed said. Deer hunting "is a sport and people do it. We're taking the by-product of it."

Franzetta, a Californian, said she isn't aware of planned protests of any of the 35 Iowa Elks lodges. Her group is encouraging people to voice concerns locally, she said.

Reed said Elks members will continue collecting hides throughout deer season. People interested in donating should contact local lodges, he said.

Dennis Moon, a Des Moines resident who hunts deer, said he supports the Elks project.

"Everybody eats hamburger or chicken," Moon said. "It's no different."

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