Their dreams of a proper tribute to the clawed creatures have been cracked wide open — at least for now.
Officials from the Maine Department of Transportation on Thursday denied a request from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals — or PETA — to erect a tombstone memorial for 60 to 70 crates of live lobsters that spilled into the road in Brunswick Aug. 22, when a truck carrying the crustaceans crashed along Route 1.
According to the Bangor Daily News, live lobsters — around $65,000 worth — were destroyed last week when the box truck hauling them flipped in the northbound lanes, just past Cook’s Corner.
On Wednesday, PETA sent a letter to the state’s transportation agency seeking “permission to place a 5-foot tombstone memorial near the crash site.”
The planned memorial would have urged drivers passing by to “Try Vegan” and included a picture of a lobster etched on the front.
“Countless sensitive crustaceans experienced an agonizing death when this truck rolled over and their bodies came crashing down onto the highway,” Tracy Reiman, PETA executive vice president, said in a statement. “PETA hopes to pay tribute to these individuals who didn’t want to die with a memorial urging people to help prevent future suffering.”
But a spokesman for MaineDOT told the Globe on Thursday that the request was rebuffed because signs of all kinds — including the one requested by PETA — are not allowed on that particular portion of the highway.
“They, or any other group, couldn’t do it on that section,” spokesman Ted Talbot said in a telephone interview. “That section is a Controlled-Access section, meaning that there’s a lot of car and truck traffic and volume at high rates of speed.”
He said even if the group proposed downgrading the tombstone to something like a political sign, it would still be denied.
In a letter to PETA from MaineDOT “respectfully” denying the request, officials said there are various reasons the tombstone wouldn’t be allowed, but the main reason is safety.
Talbot said the group’s dreams aren’t entirely dashed, however. Under Maine state law, temporary signs or memorials can be placed within the public right-of-way for up to 12 weeks. They must be no larger than 4 feet by 8 feet, and must be labeled with the name of the organization that placed it, the law states.
“They could go anywhere else that is not a Controlled-Access section,” Talbot said of the request from PETA. “As long as they stay within the temporary sign law, sure.”
Steve Annear can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @steveannear.