STEPHENSVILLE, Wis. (AP) — Wisconsin police will monitor a church’s weekend pig wrestling event after thousands of people signed an online petition expressing concerns for the animals’ well-being.

Capt. Mike Jobe of the Outagamie County Sheriff’s Department said he doesn’t expect a large protest at the event Sunday, but deputies will step in if needed. He said the long-standing event hosted by St. Patrick Parish is not illegal.

“We’ll be monitoring the situation and assessing,” Jobe said. “I’m not going to have a standing army up there to protect the pig wrestlers. We’ll react to whatever presents itself.”

More than 42,000 people have signed the petition calling for the cancellation of the Pig Rassle in Stephensville.

The petition was posted by Global Conservation Group, an animal advocacy organization in Watertown. It claims that the animals are “punched in the face, kicked, body-slammed, jumped on, yelled at and thrown into a bucket.” The organization said the event qualifies as illegal animal fighting.

Among the people who have spoken out against the event is Shirley Manson, the lead singer of Garbage, a rock band that was established in Madison in the early 1990s. Manson released a statement requesting that the event be cancelled permanently.

Melissa Tedrowe, the state director of The Humane Society of the United States, also released a statement to express her concern.

“St. Patrick Parish’s planned ‘Pig Rassle’ does not convey the Catholic church’s spirit of compassion,” Tedrowe said. “Animals can endure serious physical and psychological trauma during such activities, and forcing animals to suffer for entertainment’s sake is wrong. The church should cancel this needless event and find a form of entertainment that is in line with Wisconsin’s values.”

Ken Bilgrien, a deacon at St. Patrick, said the parish doesn’t condone animal abuse. He said the event, which is part of an annual fundraiser, is fun for both human and animal participants.

“We fill the stands with hundreds of people. Are you kidding that our own parishioners would allow us to pound the pig in the head with a hammer?” Bilgrien said. “In 44 years, we’ve never injured a pig.”

The parish said the event has been cleared by the sheriff’s department and the state attorney general.

In accordance with the state’s pig disease-control rules, all of the pigs used in the event will go to market on Monday, Bilgrien said.

St. Patrick’s Pig Rassle was cancelled twice in the 1990s due to protests organized by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

“In 44 years, we’ve never injured a pig.” Ken Bilgrien, deacon

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(9) comments


100% Wrong.
Pigs or any animal has feelings and fears. This will not only traumatized them physically but mentally and emotionally. Pigs in particular are intelligent animals. Is this the church hiding behind a bible again!? Abusers of children and animals? You cannot justify this in any form. Police watching this? They are no better. SPCA hopefully will intervene. Teach your children well church goers.... They will need more than a bible to make it through this life or the next.


I'm sure the pig does not enjoy the sheer terror of the event. I don't understand how people can enjoy watching an event that terrorizes an animal.

Wi Fan

Never been to an event like this and don't plan on going to one. My point was that your attempt at making this about religion is ridiculous. ..they are held regularly at fairs, etc.


I think it reflects poorly on any organization that puts on an event like this. It's just a bit more reprehensible when it's a church doing it, in my opinion.


This is a sport??? It's stupidity - no more, no less. People that enjoy this inhumane "sport" are just plain pitiful and need to get some counseling.

Wi Fan

tbyland: this isn't just a church event type of thing. It will be done much closer to home at the Viroqua Wild West days and many other venues around the coulee region. I will look for you there with your save the pig sign!


I can't tell if you are in favor of these events or merely saying it's part of the culture so get used to it. Maybe both?


Don't hurt my bacon.


Unbelievable. But when I consider the Catholic Church's sad track record in protecting children from pedophile priests, the inhumane treatment of animals should come as no surprise.

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