PETA Wants Wyoming To Use Dinosaur Instead Of Bucking Bronco On License Plate

Wyomingites weren't impressed with a demand from PETA on Thursday to replace the bucking bronco on the state license plate to a dinosaur head. PETA says rodeos are cruel. In response, one man in Cheyenne said PETA can "kiss my ass."

Leo Wolfson

June 27, 20246 min read

Suggested Wyoming license plate from PETA.
Suggested Wyoming license plate from PETA. (Courtesy Photo)

A request made by animal rights activist group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) on Thursday to replace the iconic bucking horse and rider logo from Wyoming license plates isn’t going over well with people in the Cowboy State.

PETA sent a letter to Senate President Ogden Driskill, R-Devils Tower, and House Speaker Albert Sommers, R-Pinedale, requesting that Wyoming residents have the choice to opt out from having to buy a license plate with the bucking horse logo on their vehicles. State law requires the logo on all of the state’s 19 license plate designs.

PETA has long lobbied against the sport of rodeo because it’s “cruelty” to the stock animals. Wyoming’s logo is a “rodeo-glorifying design” and therefore a promotion of animal cruelty, the group contends.

In a press release, PETA says it believes the bucking horse should “go the way of the dinosaurs,” along with suggesting replacing the famous rodeo bronc and rider with a triceratops skull.

“Animals exploited in rodeos are provoked with weapons and left with broken bones, punctured lungs and snapped necks,” said PETA President Ingrid Newkirk in a press release. “PETA is calling on Wyoming lawmakers to allow residents to reject this cruelty and celebrate what truly makes their state extraordinary, such as its thrilling Jurassic history or the wild horses who run free on its plains.”

The Secretary of State’s office says that Wyoming's first use of the logo dates back to 1918 and possibly earlier. It was also used as an insignia worn by members of the Wyoming National Guard in France and Germany during World War I.

Some believe that the bucking horse is representative of a legendary rodeo horse named Steamboat that dates back to the early 1900s. One of the best-known bucking horses of all time, Steamboat was publicized as "the horse that couldn't be ridden."

The bucking horse and rider is now on the state seal and is also the official logo for the University of Wyoming.

They Want To Do What?

Instead of the bucking bronc and rider, PETA proposes either the skull of a triceratops, the state dinosaur, or a wild mustang without a rider. But if Wyoming insists on promoting rodeo, the group also suggests a third option: a cowboy book with blood dripping off its spur.

Cheyenne resident Pat Moore said she loves Steamboat and the history the bucking horse image evokes, and she’s not a fan of PETA’s suggestion to get rid of it.

“He (Steamboat) should stay there forever,” she said.

Moore said she’s optimistic that Wyoming residents can teach PETA members about what the imagery means to the state, which is not glorifying animal cruelty.

Tom Hirsig, CEO of Cheyenne Frontier Days, which puts on the largest outdoor rodeo in the world, laughed at the idea of Wyoming moving away from the bucking horse.

“Steamboat is the epitome of Wyoming heritage. This is an honorary distinction for an animal,” Hirsig said. “There is not a more coveted symbol in Wyoming than Steamboat.”

Florida resident Robbie Hazouri, who’s spending the summer in Wyoming and is a huge fan of the Cowboy State, was rather blunt in his response, saying PETA can “kiss my ass.”

“They’re out of touch with reality,” he said, adding that both of his children earned scholarships to compete in rodeo in college.

Cheyenne resident Elizabeth Poe said she also won’t support PETA’s request.

“It’s a symbol of freedom and it’s just a sign of the West,” she said. “They’re definitely out of touch with Wyoming.”

Wyoming's current license plate, top left, with three alternatives suggested by PETA.
Wyoming's current license plate, top left, with three alternatives suggested by PETA. (Cowboy State Daily Staff)

Not Likely

State Sen. Mike Gierau, D-Jackson, was copied on the letter. Although Gierau said he understands PETA’s arguments, he doesn’t agree with them and believes there are much more important issues the state should deal with.

“Steamboat is something iconic to Wyoming,” Gierau said. “It’s an image a lot of people hold deep and revere.”

Gierau said he hasn’t had any Wyoming constituents reach out to him with a request to remove the logo or change it.

In response to the email, Gierau responded to PETA, “Thanks for sharing.”

He said PETA sometimes gets “a little over their skis” and goes after “things that aren’t there. The bucking horse is what it means to honor the state’s heritage as a farming and ranching community and I think that’s inspiring and a lot of things to a lot of people."

In April, PETA held a rally that nobody attended at the state Capitol to try and convince the state to tax all meat in Wyoming to compensate for the negative impacts cattle have on climate change.

None of the activists participating in the rally were from Wyoming.

That gets under Jonathan Downing's skin. The longtime Wyoming lobbyist said Wyomingites are "growing weary of outsiders and people who just moved here attempting to imprint their values on Wyoming and our people."

"In PETA’s honor, I am going to enjoy a nice, tender, medium rare, Wyoming raised steak this weekend," Downing said.

Troubles With Rodeo

Rodeo is a sport deeply embedded in Wyoming's culture and the farming and ranching heritage of the state, where many people are employed in the agriculture industry. It’s a sport that can be found in every corner of the state, with high-profile pro events held each summer.

Some like PETA have criticized rodeo for what it sees as supporting animal cruelty and using animals for entertainment. In its letter, PETA mentions how two horses who were killed at the Overland Stage Stampede Rodeo in Green River earlier this month and a horse was reportedly killed in an event at the Cody Nite Rodeo in 2023. It also mentions instances of people being killed in rodeo events.

“Times have changed, and an ever-increasing number of people are upset that animals endure fear and trauma, torn muscles, broken bones and even fatal injuries when they’re used in rodeos,” Newkirk writes in her letter. “These kind people do not support cruel activities such as calf roping, steer wrestling and bronco riding.”

Leo Wolfson can be reached at

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Leo Wolfson

Politics and Government Reporter