These days, few TV shows are safe from some kind of controversy, and Yellowstone has been no different. The series even once has to defend itself from allegations that cows had been "mutilated" on-set. The accusations were first brought by PETA in 2018, citing a "whistleblower" who informed them that "dead cows' hindquarters and necks had been hacked apart" to be used as props, and that "the bodies of others were likely left to rot in the sun or manipulated in order to appear bloated for a scene."
PETA also stated that their source said "concerns from crew members who questioned why fake cows weren't being used instead were essentially" disregarded. "The slaughterhouse industry is a violent and cruel one, and to use the bodies of animals who were subjected to that cruelty for a TV stunt is not only disrespectful but also extremely wasteful," senior vice president of PETA Lisa Lange said in the company's initial statement. "PETA is calling on Kevin Costner and the producers of 'Yellowstone' to come clean about how and from where the animals were purchased, cut the gruesome scenes, and pledge to use only props and other cruelty-free alternatives in the future."
Paramount Network denied the claims as "inaccurate," with former Paramount Network SVP of communications Kurt Patat issuing a formal statement of denial, per The Wrap. "Paramount Network takes animal safety very seriously and with utmost professionalism," Patat said at the time. "The production has taken necessary precautions to provide for animal safety and their well-being on set. All animals are monitored on set by professional handlers," he added. "We have been in touch with PETA which presented us with inaccurate claims that we were able to correct including no cows were killed or mutilated for the scene in question."
Following Paramount Network's denial statement, PETA responded. "According to the whistleblower, scenes with dead cows took place over several days and bodies were hacked apart, as evidenced by the photo that was shared with PETA, which Paramount has yet to explain," the group said. "When we asked Paramount for specifics on where and when the animals were procured and at what part of the process, they went silent."
"Paramount's vague denials echo 'Alpha's,' and that film lost its American Humane certification after an investigation confirmed that animals were killed for production," PETA continued. "If Paramount had nothing to hide, it would have come clean about where the cows came from instead of going on to ban cell phones from set while shooting a controversial rodeo scene."