PETA wants animal cruelty charges for alleged Springville firestarter


For immediate release:
August 9, 2022

Nicole Meyer 202-483-7382

Springville, UT – This morning PETA sent a letter to Utah County Attorney David Leavitt asking him to add animal cruelty charges to those investigators have proposed against Cory Allan Martin for allegedly starting the fire of Springville, which ravaged 60 acres and no doubt caused animals to burn to death, including the spider that Martin allegedly tried to burn with a lighter.

The group writes in their letter that causing animals to suffer and die painfully, as was likely the case in this fire, should be recognized as a violation of Utah animal protection laws, even if the spiders are not covered by state anti-cruelty law. . The letter notes that “a large number of other species, from mule deer to yellow-bellied marmots” resided in and around the fire area and that prosecutors for California and Oregon added animal cruelty charges in similar wildfire cases, resulting in convictions on those charges.

“Starting with this spider, countless terrified animals probably burned and died in agony,” said PETA Vice President Daniel Paden. “These victims deserve recognition, and PETA asks that as more victims are identified, the person responsible be held accountable for causing so much suffering.”

PETA — whose motto reads, in part, that “animals do not belong to us to abuse them in any way” — opposes speciesism, a human supremacist worldview. For more information, please visit or follow the group on Twitter, FacebookWhere instagram.

PETA’s letter to Leavitt follows.

August 9, 2022

The Honorable David O. Leavitt
Utah County Attorney

Dear Mr. Leavitt:

I hope this letter finds you well. I am writing to ask your office to add animal cruelty charges, if any, to the charges of reckless burning and other related charges that investigators have proposed against Cory Allan Martin in connection with the Springville fire.

Although no humans lost their lives, the many wild animals that resided on the roughly 60 acres of land destroyed in the blaze are undoubtedly less fortunate, including the spider Martin allegedly told police that he was trying to burn with a lighter when the surrounding brush burst into flames. . Such catastrophic fires inflict terror and suffering on countless animals and cause them to endure prolonged and excruciating deaths.

Utah Code § 76-9-301 states that a person who “recklessly or criminally negligently … injures an animal” is guilty of animal cruelty and that a person who “kills an animal or causes an animal to be killed without having the legal privilege to do so” is guilty of aggravated cruelty to an animal. Although as an invertebrate the spider that Martin allegedly attempted to burn alive was not protected by Utah’s anti-cruelty law, the mountains around Springville are home to many other species, from mule deer to yellow-bellied marmots, which are protected.

Given that Martin is accused of recklessly causing a fast-burning forest fire that surely caused serious injury and death to countless animals – and that such conduct does not constitute lawful practices of hunting, fishing or trapping that exempt wild animals from protection from cruelty – I respectfully request that the investigators and your office add animal cruelty charges to those the defendant is already facing, as prosecutors of California and Oregon have done so in similar cases, both of which resulted in convictions on these charges.

Thank you for your consideration and for the hard work you do.


Sarah Definger

Senior Evidence Analyst

Department of Cruelty Investigations


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