Vienna - Austrian animal rights groups protested on Thursday against scientific experiments on survival conditions in avalanches that use live pigs.
An international group of scientists on Tuesday started burying anaesthetised pigs in the snow in the Oetztal valley in Tyrol, where they suffocate or freeze to death, in order to learn about how people die in avalanches.
"It is absolutely unacceptable to kill these highly sensitive, helpless animals for such a useless experiment," said Johanna Stadler, director of the Vier Pfoten animal rights group.
The experiment under the leadership of university clinic for anaesthesia in Innsbruck involves burying 29 pigs over two weeks, broadcaster ORF reported. Some animals are fully covered in snow, while others are buried to their neck.
A representative of the Tyrol's mountain rescue service told the German Press Agency dpa that her organisation distanced itself from the study also involving Italian and US scientists, and was not in any way involved in the research.
The Austrian Animal Protection Association said that not a single person would be saved through this type of avalanche research, and proposed a different study.
"The scientists should bury themselves, and their colleagues can then analyse the results," the group said. - Sapa-dpa