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VERNAL — An animal-rights group announced Monday that it plans to put up a billboard targeting hunters after a Lehi man was gored in the neck earlier this month by the antlers of an elk he had killed.
The billboard, which PETA says it intends to erect near Vernal, features a bull elk with blood dripping from its antlers. It carries the slogans "Payback is Hell" and "Leave Animals Alone."
The ad is a response to a hunting accident that injured Bradley Greenwood, according to PETA campaigner Matt Bruce.
On Sept. 7, Greenwood was hunting near Matt Warner Reservior in Uintah County when he killed a large elk. The Lehi man was trying to roll the animal over, when one of its antlers penetrated his neck, the Uintah County Sheriff's Office reported.
Greenwood, 51, was able to call for help. He was taken to a hospital and treated for his injuries.
PETA is grateful Greenwood is expected to make a full recovery, Bruce said. Still, the group also sees the incident as a way to raise awareness about what it believes is a brutal and dangerous pastime, he said.
"We hope that our billboard will help prevent future accidents like this one by reminding people that hunting is not only cruel, it's also a tragic accident waiting to happen," Bruce said.
"In this day and age, there really is no reason to kill animals for fun or food," he added. "People should enjoy nature by hiking and get their food at the grocery store."
Uintah County hunter Tracy Webster said he's not surprised by PETA's decision to exploit Greenwood's accident.
"I think that outfit is just looking to turn people against sportsmen with whatever excuse they can," he said.
"We use (wildlife) to feed our families, and we enjoy the sport," Webster said. "We try to take (game) as humanely as possible. We don't want to torture and hurt them. We want a quick, clean kill."
As a practical matter, Vernal only has a handful of existing billboards. Bruce said PETA is still working with sign companies to identify a place where the group can put its message up.
But hunter Jason Newman doesn't expect that message will be well received in an area where fall fashions have always included a healthy dose of hunter orange.
"I really don't think they're going to get quite what they're looking for in Vernal," Newman said. "They might get it in Salt Lake, but they're not going to get it out here."