AUSTIN, Texas – Individuals concerned about animal welfare decided Fantastic Fest wasn’t so fantastic after the event organizer put a Helicopter Hog Hunt on the schedule. This isn’t the festival’s first feral hog hunt. But Tim League, founder of the Alamo Drafthouse in Austin and director of Fantastic Fest, canceled the outing after a Change.org petition began circulating. The petition received 1,339 supporters.
In response to the protests, League posted a message to the Fantastic Fest website apologizing for offending anyone.
“At Fantastic Fest, we like to play to Texan stereotypes in good fun,” League explained. He added that feral hogs are killed by recreational hunters each year in private aerial hunts that have been a significant part of culling feral hogs in Texas. “That said, the tone of our copy for our event was undeniably wrong, and it is quite valid to assert that even if you are in support of aerial hunting, perhaps it is best left to professionals,” League wrote. “I’ll leave the discussion of the practice itself for later.”
Participants in the hunt, which was scheduled for Sept. 23, would be armed with a semi-automatic assault rifle, hop aboard the helicopter with League and shoot feral hogs from the helicopter at a price of $1,540 per person. The hogs were to be cooked and served at the festival’s closing night party. Would-be participants were required to have a valid hunter’s license and fire arms training, among other requirements.
In addition to a Nerd-Rap Battle and Machine Guns & Franklin BBQ outing, the festival features Fantastic Debates. League said he will personally debate the topic “Resolved: Shooting feral hogs from helicopters is unethical and wrong.”
“I’ll be arguing the negative with an as-of-yet unnamed opponent,” League said.
Stakeholders in the pork industry have expressed concern about feral hogs because of the damage they cause. Feral swine have been known to damage crops, kill young livestock and carry diseases that threaten other animals, people and water supplies. The US Department of Agriculture reported that feral swine are responsible for more than $1 billion in damage annually. In 2014, USDA launched a $20 million national initiative to help states deal with invasive wild swine.