The Utah Humane Society opposes a bill that would make it a crime to videotape or photograph agricultural operations without permission from owners, saying the legislation would have a chilling effect on stopping animal abuse.

HB187, which passed the House on a 60-to-14 vote last week, is before the Senate.

Rep. John Mathis, R-Vernal, said his bill is intended to stop groups such as People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals from taking what he described as distorted videos alleging animal abuse.

PETA spokesman Jeremy Beckham said photographs and videotapes “often are the best tools we can give to law enforcement” in uncovering animal abuses in factory farms. He said several covert operations in other states have lead to criminal charges.

“The Utah bill would help protect abusers,” he said.

Gene Baierschmidt, executive director of the Utah Human Society, said the bill would discourage “individuals from obtaining the documentation required by government officials and law enforcement authorities to address possible animal cruelty cases.

via Groups assail bill that would criminalize filming farm animals | The Salt Lake Tribune.

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