Animal rights activists are up in arms about a proposed experiment which would try to better understand what factors may help people survive an avalanche--by burying pigs in snow to monitor their slow deaths. While researchers defend their study, asserting that it could help save lives, those in opposition say that the deaths would be nothing short of cruel and senseless.The study hopes that by monitoring the buried pigs, researchers will have a better understanding the role of air pockets in surviving avalanche situations and avoiding brain damage from asphyxiation. Like in a drowning, many avalanche victims die from a lack of oxygen while waiting on rescue that is notoriously difficult.
Researchers have defended the study by claiming that the 29 pigs selected to participate would not suffer, and that they would be sedated prior to being covered in snow. Still, animal rights groups are crying foul, likening the planned deaths as animal cruelty.
The experiment, lead by Hermann Brugger and a team from Austria and Italy, was set to take place over the course of two weeks, but has been postponed due to the recent negative response from media and activists, according to Medical University of Innsbruck.
There's no telling how long the pigs' reprieve from their snowy execution will last, though Brugger is quick to point out that their days would be numbered anyways. In other words, if the avalanche won't kill them, the slaughterhouse will.