It has radical animal rights group squealing, but on Wednesday, scientists defended the practice of shooting pigs in the head. Researchers in New Zealand secured live pigs to a surgical table and shot them in the head with a pistol as part of a study on blood-spatter patterns.
The government-funded Institute of Environmental Science and Research said the pigs were sedated and treated humanely. The scientists said their analysis is important in understanding human shooting deaths and could help in criminal cases.
The study, published in July in the International Journal of Legal Medicine, involved researchers from the institute as well as two public New Zealand universities. It describes how five pigs were shot from close range with a Glock semi-automatic handgun to record the back-spatter of blood, bone and brain material.
The radical leftists group PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) said the experiment was upsetting to them.
But Keith Bedford, the general manager responsible for forensic science activities at the institute, said that it uses models and simulations wherever possible, but that in this particular experiment could not get the results it needed any other way.
“It goes to the ability to provide reliable, and the most informative, evidence in a court case,” he said. “It may be critical in protecting someone’s liberty.”
The Associated Press contributed to this article