ASHEVILLE, N.C. – A North Carolina woman said she's received death threats over her plan to slit the throat of a sheep while teaching a class on whole-animal butchery next month.
Natalie Bogwalker is the director of Wild Abundance, a school that teaches a variety of skills, including foraging and carpentry, The Asheville Citizen-Times reported . In early November, the school plans to host a weekend class, Cycles of Life, that teaches students how to slaughter a 100-pound sheep and then use the entirety of the animal.
Bogwalker said she's received emails and threatening phone calls, but has no plans to cancel the class.
"(There are) a lot of people hoping we die a painful death, wishing people would slit our throats, and saying that we're sick and demented," Bogwalker said. "I try to keep a good attitude about it, but it's pretty challenging."
A release from the North American Animal Liberation Press Office, which circulates statements from often-anonymous animal rights groups, earlier this month expressed outrage over the class.
"Innocent sheep will be coldly and cruelly murdered November 4th by two women who apparently are unfamiliar with the term oxymoron," the unsigned release said.
The release also urged other activists to "register disgust and outrage with the perpetrators of this senseless, needless and bloody violence," publishing contact information for Bogwalker and others involved with the class.
A petition on Care2 Petitions calls for the school to be shut down.
Will Hazlitt, a spokesman for the North American Animal Liberation Press Office, said animal rights activists think there's no such thing as responsible meat eating, and labeled the class an "abhorrent activity." He also defended the right of some activists to threaten violence on the teachers.
"We sympathize deeply with the people who are extremely upset about this and their deep-seated emotions in this regard, and we have no sympathy for the people who are cruelly murdering this sheep," he said, adding that any efforts to stop the class are "worthy and laudable."
Bogwalker acknowledges that the class, which she has held before, can be brutal for some. After thanking the animal for its life, she kills it with a knife to the throat in front of the class. The animal is then skinned and gutted, and any unused parts are buried in a garden on the school grounds as fertilizer. One person who took the class went fully vegan, she said.
"One of the reasons we offer the class is so people can really and truly understand the repercussions of their choices to eat meat and take responsibility for it," Bogwalker said.
Information from: The Asheville Citizen-Times, http://www.citizen-times.com