PETA sues for documents involving bear pits

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has sued the Bureau of Indian Affairs for failing to hand over what it maintains are public documents under the Freedom of Information Act pertaining to the lease agreements for bear exhibitors in Cherokee.

PETA maintains about 30 bears are kept in what it characterizes as roadside zoos “in cramped, barren enclosures with no opportunity to express natural behavior.”

PETA maintains the Bureau of Indian Affairs is responsible for managing the lease agreements governing Indian trust lands — including those in Cherokee — and is required by federal law to release these agreements. The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court.

Cherokee bear pits have been the target of PETA over the past two years, from sidewalk protests to billboard campaigns, as well as vocal appeals to tribal government to shut down the attractions.

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