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Animal Rights Extremists Increasingly Targeting Individuals

Mar 12, 2014 No Comments

Note: While focusing specific on Animal Research, this article is extremely relevant to all animal-use industries, as many of the tactics identified here are used on other targets.

Online News Editor of Science Magazine

Animal rights activists have dramatically shifted their tactics over the last decade, targeting individual researchers and the businesses that support them, instead of going after their universities. That’s the biggest revelation to come out of a report released today by the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB), the largest coalition of biomedical research associations in the United States.

The purpose of the report—The Threat of Extremism to Medical Research: Best Practices to Mitigate Risk through Preparation and Communication—is to provide guidance to scientists and institutions around the world in dealing with animal rights extremists. That includes individuals and groups that damage laboratories, send threatening e-mails, and even desecrate the graves of researchers’ relatives. In 2004, for example, Animal Liberation Front activists broke into psychology laboratories at the University of Iowa, where they smashed equipment, spray-painted walls, and removed hundreds of animals, causing more than $400,000 in damage. In 2009, extremists set fire to the car of a University of California, Los Angeles, neuroscientist who worked on rats and monkeys. And other researchers say activists have shown up at their homes in the middle of the night, threatening their families and children.

“We wanted to create an international document to get people thinking about the potential of animal extremism,” says Michael Conn, a co-chair of the committee that created the report and the senior vice president for research at the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center in Lubbock. “These activities can happen to anybody—no one is immune.”

Personal attacks, in particular, appear to be on the rise. The report looks at 220 reported illegal incidents within the United States between 1990 and 2012. It finds that from 1990 to 1999, 61% involved universities, while just 9% involved individuals. From 2000 to 2012, however, only 13% of incidents involved universities, while 46% involved individuals. Actions against businesses are also on the rise, with 17% of incidents from 2000 to 2012 involving investors and business partners, two groups not even mentioned in the previous decade’s numbers. These latter incidents included activists threatening to protest businesses that supply animal feed to research labs and airlines that transport research animals. “If all of a sudden companies refuse to supply you with paper towels or lab coats, you have a serious problem,” says Conn, who himself was the target of animal extremism—receiving threatening phone calls and being followed through airports by activists—when he was the administrator of an animal facility at Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) in Portland. “It makes it very difficult to get your job done.”

In response, the FASEB report contains a number of recommendations. It advises researchers to limit the amount of personal information they make available on the Internet, for example. It says universities should assemble a “crisis management team” composed of scientists, security personnel, press officers, and legal consultants, so that they can quickly respond to incidents. And it recommends that researchers and institutions actively engage with the public, inviting members of the community to view their facilities, for example, as a way to combat animal rights propaganda. OHSU, for one, allows local residents to tour its primate research center on a regular basis; it also offers summer programs, such as Camp Monkey, for grade-school students.

Eric Bernthal, the chair of the board of directors of the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), says he agrees that scientists should combat animal rights extremism. “We don’t condone terror and destruction of property,” he says, noting that HSUS has achieved its animal welfare goals by working with legislators. But he says the FASEB report spends far too much time on how scientists can mitigate attacks and almost no time on why these attacks are occurring in the first place. “If you’re going to give advice to researchers about how to solve this problem, the most constructive way is to use fewer animals in research,” he says, “not assemble crisis communication teams.”

Bernthal says HSUS would like to work with Conn and other scientists to figure out ways to reduce the number of animals in biomedical laboratories. “There are still some circumstances where animal research is vitally important,” he says. “But there are huge steps that can be taken to phase it out.”

The Mink Industry is Important Market for Fish Waste

Nov 05, 2013 No Comments

In Norway, farmed fur animal producers purchase almost 50,000 tonnes of waste from fish poultry and meat production. In the report Seafood 2025 – How to Create the World’s Wild Fish Industry, which was published in March this year by the Fisheries and Aquaculture Industry Association (FHL), it is stated that the fishing fleet dumps 35 per cent of its waste, amounting to 196,000 tonnes.  Read more….


Oct 08, 2013 No Comments

alf1Animal rights extremists have been attacking family mink farms all over North America recently.  These attacks, besides being cruel and traumatic to the animals, are federal crimes and fall under the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act.  Hundreds of animals have now suffered and painfully died due to these assaults on hard working families and their farms.  The perpetrators are not heroes, or idealists; they are felons that break into and destroy people’s livelihood, terrorizing families in the dead of night.  In order to help stop these offenses, Fur Commission USA  is offeringreward of up to $50,000  for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible. Please, if anyone has any information that could help solve these crimes, call 717-983-TIPS (8477) or contact your local FBI field office.  Farms in the following locations have suffered these assaults.

Burley, Idaho
July 29, 2013

Morris, Illinois
August 14, 2013

Keota, Iowa
August 30, 2013

Coalville, Utah
September 13, 2013

Ebensburg, Pennsylvania
September 25, 2013

New Holstein, Wisconsin
October 5, 2013

Grand Meadow, Minnesota
October 7, 2013

Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier: Farmers need to be vigilant, officials say

Aug 20, 2013 No Comments

Third a three-part series by Dennis Magee.

WATERLOO, Iowa — Those familiar with the tactics of hard-core animal rights activists suggest farmers with livestock plan ahead for potential trouble, accepting that isolation in rural Iowa does not provide perfect protection.  In fact, remote locations work in favor of extremists bent on criminal mischief or worse. Read more…

Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier: Iowa’s history with animal rights activists goes back decades

Aug 19, 2013 No Comments

Second in a three-part series by Dennis Magee

WATERLOO. Iowa — Because of an incident in November 2004 at the University of Iowa, state law enforcement officials became acquainted with a figure familiar within the extreme animal rights community. Read more….

Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier: Butter Cow incident a reminder of animal rights extremists’ presence

Aug 18, 2013 No Comments

First in a three-part series by Dennis Magee

WATERLOO, Iowa — Irreverent pundits found a fun topic to roast last week when someone poured red paint on the famous butter cow, a tradition at the Iowa State Fair since 1911. Read more….

Mink Raid Tests Reporter’s Ability to See Both Sides

Aug 02, 2013 No Comments
Twin Falls Times News
On Assignment

I must admit, some stories test my ability to see both sides of an issue.

But as a news reporter, I have to remain neutral — I have to keep my articles balanced and fair, as they say.

Recently, a mink farm near Burley was raided by so-called “animal liberators.” These animal activists release fur-bearing animals from the confines of their cages and into the wild.

The activists who claimed responsibility for the raid on the mink farm said in an online magazine that they “acted with love in our hearts.”

Many have argued against that claim.

Times-News reader Jared Boley commented online, saying: “Those mink will now die of starvation, disease, and the elements! Granting a cruel, slow, inhumane death!”

Michael Whelan, executive director of the Fur Commission USA, agreed.

Whelan told me that these “liberated” mink seldom survive in the wild. Many are hit by cars because they have learned to associate the sound of a vehicle with food.

I love animals, and I understand the emotional issues behind animal activism. But I also respect Idaho’s right-to-farm act.

Mink farming is not illegal, but destruction of property is.

The raid is an act of “economic terrorism in my book,” commented reader Jeff Pierson. “No different than burning down a saw mill in northern Idaho.”

Pierson is correct. Acts of sabotage against animal farms are a felony under the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act, signed into law in 2006.

Anonymous activists encourage these raids online but do not carry out the raids themselves.

“They know better,” said Whelan. “They target young, impressionable kids looking for a cause.”

I’d like to quote what the activists said in their online magazine called “Bite Back” about the July 28 raid on the Moyle mink farm outside of Burley:

“They will claim that we are terrorists. We say that if peacefully opening cages is an act of terrorism, then the word has no meaning. It is appropriately applied to the mass imprisonment and killing of wild animals.

“They will claim that these mink are domesticated animals and will starve. Documentation on the success of farm-bred mink in the wild is extensive, so we will add only our experience watching these naturally aquatic animals, who had spent their entire lives in cages, head instinctively for water and begin to swim and hunt.

“They will claim that conditions on mink farms are humane. We ask why, then, they try only to hide those farms from the public, pushing for legislation to criminalize the taking of photographs. The mink that we freed from the Moyles lived in intensive confinement in their own waste. Their suffering was plain to the eye, and their yearning for freedom plain to the soul.

“…They will say that we will not stop short of the complete and total end of the killing of animals for their fur. On this point we are in total agreement.”

Jack Rose, a physiology professor at Idaho State University who occasionally conducts medical research on minks at his lab at the university’s Department of Biological Sciences in Pocatello, was recently placed on an animal activist group’s “hit list.”

“These kids think they will become heroes for sabotaging a mink farm,” Rose said. “What they don’t realize is that these actions make them criminals and could follow them for the rest of their lives.”

Extremists attack mink farm in Burley Idaho: FCUSA Press Release

Jul 30, 2013 No Comments

Fur Commission USA
Extremists attack mink farm in Burley Idaho.
July 30, 2013

In the early morning hours of Sunday July 28, animal rights terrorists broke into a Burley Idaho mink ranch, destroyed fencing, breeding records and over-turned thousands of mink pens.  Close to 3,800 mink were released from their cages, though only a small fraction ever left the mink yard. Over 60 friends and neighbors helped collect the scared and traumatized animals throughout the following day.

“We are so grateful to our neighbors that have come to help us in our time of need.” said ranch owner Cindy Moyle.  “The people who did this have no idea how stressful it is for the animals. The mink are domesticated and have never had to find food or water for themselves.  Those that don’t return soon will suffer and die painfully.” The Moyle family spent much of Tuesday picking up mink off the road, as they are attracted by traffic. The animals equate the sound of motorized vehicles with the feed cart.

Cassia County Sheriff’s Dept. is investigating, as well as the FBI.  Crimes committed against mink farming fall under the federal Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act, and can result in a significant prison sentence for those convicted.

An anonymous internet post has claimed responsibility for the attack. “Historically, these crimes are committed by a small group of individuals that travel around, state-to-state, terrorizing farmers” stated Michael Whelan, Executive Director of Fur Commission USA, the trade organization representing the U.S. mink farmers. “These aren’t peaceful protesters, these are criminal thugs that blindly follow an anti-ag agenda.  They’re felons that are ruining lives. Nothing more.” Fur Commission USA is offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction.

Though the anonymous claim does not identify any organization, the FBI considers the Animal Liberation Front (ALF) the number one domestic terror threat in the U.S. 

Idaho is the 3rd largest mink producing state in the U.S.  The farms create over $40 million in revenue for the state each year, and support thousands of jobs. 


New York Market Time Kicks Off

Jun 13, 2013 No Comments


The following extract is reproduced with permission from Sandy Parker Reports, Weekly International Fur News. Sandy Parker has been covering the fur industry for more than four decades. For most of that time he has published a weekly newsletter, detailing results of international pelt auctions, wholesale price trends, business developments and movements in the trade, as well as economic and political activities that may impact on it.

Subscribe now and receive all the latest news, either in print or electronically. Just $150 a year for 48 issues! Sandy Parker Reports, 21219 Lago Circle, Boca Raton, FL 33433; Tel: (561) 477-3764; Fax: (561) 862-7052;;

SandyInternational Fur News
with Sandy Parker

New York Market Time Kicks Off

NEW YORK MARKET TIME GETS UNDER WAY THIS WEEK, although some retailers follow their own timetables and have already been in to view the new collections.

Vendors describe the traffic so far as what has become normal for this time of the year, but only a faint echo of what took place years ago when New York was regarded as the fur capital of the world. Now, with several international fairs having developed as one-stop shopping centers where retailers fill most of their basic needs, New York has become a final destination for the fashion pieces to add more spice to their offerings.

Indications are that the traffic will pick up significantly this week at least partly in connection with two events scheduled by Fur New York. One is a seminar for retailers, June 13 at Hotel 30/30. FNY’s annual party and Person of the Year dinner will be held June 14.


China Focusing on Home Market
New Fair for Domestic Trade
Currency Doubts Still Persist
Fox Demand Strong in Helsinki …
… but Prices Retreat from Peaks

For extracts from back issues of Sandy Parker Reports see News Index. Subscribers can access an archive of complete issues at

IFTF: Global Retail Sales Increase by $600 Million

May 13, 2013 No Comments

Donna Karan - New York February 2013From The Sandy Parker Report of May 13, 2013

World retail sales of fur products edged up to $15.6 billion in 2011/12, an increase of almost $600 million over the previous year, according to the International Fur Trade Federation.  The new total represents a 44% increase over the past decade, the IFTF calculates, and has been driven to a great degree by increasing demand for fur products in Asian markets, including China, Japan and Korea. Fur sales in those markets amounted to $5.6 billion in the latest period, a gain of about 5% over the previous year and more than triple what they were 10 years ago.

Asia now leads the rest of the world in terms of fur consumption, accounting for just over 35% of the total, the organization points out, having passed Europe. According to its latest calculations, European fur sales reached $4.4 billion, or 28% of the global total. Eurasian sales (including Russia, Turkey, Ukraine and Kazakhstan) were $4.4 billion, or 27.5%, and the Americas (North and South) were $1.2 billion, just over 7% of the total. The IFTF consists of 42 national member associations and organizations in 35 countries and has been reporting global retail sales for many years, but this is the first time it has produced a breakdown by country or region. It also points out that, with fur skins trading at record prices at the auctions, this has also contributed to the increase. As has the fact that more than 400 fashion designers are now showing furs in their London, Paris, New York and Milan presentations. In addition, new technology and manufacturing techniques have broadened the use of many furs not only for fall/winter, but even spring/summer.

Mark Oaten, CEO of the IFTF, points out that the latest statistics merely represent retail sales. “Our new working relationship with PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) means that later in the year we will be able to release a value for the entire global industry, covering every part of the supply chain from manufacture, dressing and dyeing to design and more”.

“It is increasingly difficult,” concludes Oaten, “for the international business community to ignore an industry that contributes on such a significant scale to the global economy. Despite a sluggish economic backdrop, we are confident that fur sales will continue to buck the trend and I predict further growth in future years.”