PETA takes aim at UTC Fishing Club - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

PETA takes aim at UTC Fishing Club

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CHATTANOOGA (WRCB) - The animal activist group PETA is taking aim at UT-Chattanooga. Executives wrote to Chancellor Roger Brown asking him to get rid of the schools fishing club.

Chattanooga is one of two recently targeted schools, PETA also sent a letter to the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

We wanted to know why UTC, and how the university would respond.

"They are a sanctioned, following-the-rules sport and we're very proud of them," said UTC spokesperson Chuck Cantrell.

UTC was quick to back up the Mocs fishing club. Cantrell said the team will not be cut because PETA wants them gone.

So why does PETA want them gone? PETA claims fishing is a blood sport, spokesperson Virginia Fort said Thursday on the phone.

"A respected university like UTC should not exploit itself to cruelty to animals, fishing is a blood sport," said Fort. "Fish are impaled with a hook and dragged into an environment where they can't breathe."

UTC says their bass team releases all the fish they catch.

Like the letter, Fort mentioned that fish have sensitive mouths. We stopped by the Tennessee Aquarium for a fact-check.

Senior Aquarist, and angler, Rob Mottice says a fish's nervous system lacks many pain receptors.

"When the hooking event occurs the fish can't feel pain because they do not have the same receptors that mammals do. Fish feels discomfort, but no pain," said Mottice.

We also asked PETA if the timing of this letter had anything to do with the FLW tournament taking place at Chickamauga Lake. Fort said no, and that someone needs to protect fish.

Fort said, "fish are abused in ways that would warrant felony cruelty charges to dogs and cats were the victims, we're simply asking people to make the compassionate decision and chose a sport that doesn't involve cruelty to animals."

UTC's Cantrell says everybody is entitled to an opinion, but the Mocs bass club is staying put.

Anglers, like Mottice, say catch and release is a great way to preserve the sport he loves.

"God has given us great natural recourses that was meant to enjoy and return to the wild," Mottice said.

We also asked PETA what they would do now that UTC says no.  They replied, they hope they give it more thought and show compassion.

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