AMERICAN FORK — American Fork police issued citations Tuesday to people who investigators believe were involved in the stomping death of a pheasant at the Friday football game between American Fork and Viewmont high schools.

Police referred two American Fork High School students to juvenile court. Both teens were cited for cruelty to animals and disorderly conduct. A Viewmont High School assistant coach who is a part-time school employee also was cited for cruelty to animals, said American Fork Police Chief Lance Call.

Call said the boys thought it would be funny to take the pheasant to the game and watch people try to shoo it off the field. The pheasant belonged to one of the boys' families, who raise the birds. After the pheasant had been corralled off the field, police say, the assistant coach, Dean Layton, stomped twice on the bird but didn't kill it.

A Viewmont High School administrator checked the bird and decided it wouldn't live much longer and disposed of it, Call said.

American Fork police decided that the bird wouldn't have been injured had the coach refrained from stomping on it and decided the fault lay with him instead of the administrator who killed the bird.

Gene Baierschmidt, director of the Humane Society of Utah, said he believes those responsible should be prosecuted.

"We were first outraged," he said. "It was a cruel, callous act and in very poor taste. There's really no excuse for something like this."

Baierschmidt said he was happy the boys and the man were accused of cruelty to animals and not destruction of property, which sometimes is how wildlife are classified. He also said he was impressed with the city's police department.

"We're glad that the American Fork police is taking the incident seriously, and we commend them for that."

Baierschmidt also said he worries about the fans who saw the bird killing.

"This is not the message we want to send to young people," he said. "I think the people that witnessed the incident, in a few years, won't remember the game, but they'll always remember the pheasant being stomped to death."

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