There have been media reports recently that PETA plans to deploy aerial drones to monitor hunters and big farms for activity the organization considers questionable. The drones will be operated via remote control and armed only with cameras, although PETA may end up wishing the aircraft had more protection when hunters start blasting them out of the sky.
Farms, on the other hand, probably do not have firearms handy, and would have significantly more to lose if PETA is able to shoot damaging video and pass it along to regulators and law enforcement. Then there are the media and the general public. Remember the Hallmark/Westland Meat Packing Company? An undercover operative from the Humane Society shot clandestine video of sick cows being slaughtered, posted it to YouTube, and the media had a field day. The company’s president was dragged before Congress. The company was out of business within months. This, even though there was never a recall and never any indication of a risk to human health. The bad publicity was all it took.
To defend themselves, farms and food manufacturers do not need to erect guard towers or establish a defensive perimeter. Instead, they need to arm themselves with video of their own. Footage documenting their compliance efforts not only makes for great website content that helps boost SEO and build a positive brand image; it allows a company to regain control of the narrative, if PETA, or any other critic, tries to circulate evidence of problems.
In the Star Wars age of animal rights activism, it is time for industry to tap its inner George Lucas.
David Bartlett is a Senior Vice President at LEVICK and a contributing author to LEVICK Daily.