January 16, 2010
Avalanche Study Using Live Pigs Halted Over Protests
An avalanche survival study in Austria that involved burying 29 pigs alive under large amounts of snow has been cancelled to avoid potential public protests, police said Friday.
Animal rights organizations had denounced the experiment, calling it "bizarre" and "macabre", while activists had started assembling in the Tyrol's Oetz valley, where the research was being conducted.
"The outcry is understandable but also naive; animal experiments take place every day in different places," researcher Peter Paal told the APA news agency.
The scientists from Innsbruck University and the emergency medicine center at Bolzano, Italy, said the animals would have been sedated and that the proper authorities had granted approval for the experiment.
The research would have allowed the scientists to study how air pockets that form under snow during avalanches effect survival probabilities.
Some 20 percent of those hit by an avalanche found themselves with an air pocket.
The researchers said the study could have led to the development of new rescue techniques.