CORRECTED - PETA buys Talbots stock in bid to change policy

Mon Aug 24, 2009 2:38pm EDT

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(Corrects to add dropped words "attempt" and "can" in paragraphs 6, 7 and removes bullet point two; edits throughout)

* PETA bought 675 shares at $5.81 in retailer Talbots

* Plans to speak at retailers' annual meeting

LOS ANGELES, Aug 24 (Reuters) - Animal welfare group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) said on Monday it bought stock in retailer Talbots Inc TLB.N and will take its case against what it calls cruel Australian wool farming directly to shareholders.

PETA bought 675 shares of women's apparel chain Talbots at $5.81 in early August and plans to speak at the annual meeting of the Hingham, Massachusetts-based company next year.

Known for publicly criticizing companies for practices it calls abusive to animals, PETA wants Talbots to stop buying wool from Australian farmers because they commonly use a method called "mulesing" that PETA says mutilates lambs.

"We'll rally support from other shareholders to change Talbots' policy because when a company is associated with cruelty to animals, it can also hurt the bottom line," said Tracy Reiman, PETA executive vice president, in a statement.

A spokeswoman with Talbots was not immediately available.

Mulesing, according to PETA, is "a crude mutilation in which farmers carve chunks of flesh from lambs' backsides" with shears or tightly-clamped clips that cause the animal's flesh to rot and slough off in an attempt to reduce maggot infestations.

PETA believes there are humane prevention methods that are effective that can be used instead.

PETA spokeswoman Stephanie Corrigan said the group tried to work with Talbots to change its policy but moved to buy stock after the retailer ended communications.

The group often grabs headlines with its campaigns of celebrities posing nude to protest cruelty against animals.

In 2005, PETA spoke at the annual meeting of Limited Brands Inc LTD.N, which includes Victoria's Secret and Bath & Body Works. Later that same year Limited Brands adopted a policy against buying Australian wool, Corrigan said.

Shares of Talbots are up 151 percent since January, but down 44 percent since a year ago. Talbots sells traditional clothing styles to women and is majority owned by Japan's Aeon Co Ltd (8267.T).

(Reporting by Laura Isensee, editing by Bernard Orr)

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