Animal Rights Sweden Petitions for Immediate Ban on Fur Farms

Animal Rights Sweden is trying to collect 100,000 signatures on a petition to have the government ban fur farming immediately.

This follows an October 2003 report on fur farms by the government. That report claimed that animals were being kept in conditions that were inconsistent with Sweden’s 1998 Animals Protection Act. The report said that if fur farmers did not improve their care of animals by 2010,the government should look at partially or completely banning fur farms.

Fur farmers were generally pleased with the outcome of the report. Goesta Larsson, president of Sweden’s National Federation of Mink Farmers, told Agence France Presse,

We are satisfied that the report confirms something we have long known — our mink are doing fine.

Animal rights groups were angered at the reports call for giving fur farmers 7 or more years to improve conditions. Animal Rights Sweden issued a press release in October with quotes from two of its officers,

REPORT FROM STATE FUR COMMISSION A SET-BACK FOR ANIMAL RIGHTS

The government report on fur farming, presented in Sweden today, unveils serious problems with the implementation of the Animal Protection Act, adopted by the Swedish parliament in 1988. Animal Rights Sweden strongly objects to the recommendation to give fur farmers additional time until 2010 to comply with the Act.

Carina Olsson, Fur Campaign Manager, Animal Rights Sweden:

“The problems with stereotypical behaviour have been known for 15 years. Animal Rights Sweden have sent letter after letter to the Swedish Board of Agriculture calling attention to the problems and yet the report suggest that the farmers should be given more time to do research. I’m very disappointed and I think most people in Sweden feel the same way.

In Sweden there is a large public support for a ban on fur farming. More than 2/3 of the population between in the age of 18-29 support a ban. 37 of the largest department store chains in Sweden are now completely fur free. The managers of the stores have listened to the consumers. I expect the politicians to do the same.”

Per-Anders Svärd, President, Animal Rights Sweden:

“The majority of the members of the Swedish parliament unambiguously declared their intention to ban fur farming during the election campaign in 2002. The Social Democrats, the Greens and the Left Party considered this to be so important that they made it a part of their coalition agreement after the elections. They clearly stated that a ban on fur farming should be in place before the next parliamentary elections in 2006. There is nothing in the Fur commissions’ report or in the [sic] constiution that makes a ban impossible and we expect the Social Democrats, the Greens and the Left Party to live up to their pre-election promises.”

Carina Olsson, Fur Campaign Manager, Animal Rights Sweden:

“To try to adjust the fur industry to the Animal Protection Act is not an option. Wild minks move over large areas and spend much of their time in water. The confined cage environment can never offer sufficient stimulation for their natural behaviour. We must keep in mind that 1.3 million animals are killed for their fur every year in Sweden, despite the fact that fur is a luxury product humans don’t need. Fur farming must be abolished as soon as possible.”

The group had hoped to obtain 100,000 signatures by January 30, but alas fell a bit short with only 18,843 signatures in its petition.

Sources:

Swedish mink farmers given deadline to improve conditions. Agence France Presse, October 10, 2003.

Report From State Fur Commission A Set-Back For Animal Rights. Press Release, Animal Rights Sweden, October 10, 2003.

Washington State Considering Animal Rights/Environmental Terrorism Legislation

On January 12, several Washington State Senators introduced legislation to address acts of environmental and animal rights terrorism in that state modeled on legislation introduced last year in the U.S. House of Representatives.

According to the legislative summary of the bill,

An “animal rights or ecological terrorist organization” is
defined as any association, organization, entity, coalition, or combination of two or more
persons with the purpose of intimidating, coercing, or causing fear with the intent to obstruct,
impede, or deter any person from participating in an activity involving animals, activity
involving natural resources, animal facility, research facility, horticultural educational or
research facility, or the lawful activity of mining, foresting, harvesting, gathering, or
processing natural resources.

It is unlawful to: (1) deprive an owner of an animal or natural resource from lawfully
participating in an activity involving animals or an activity involving natural resources under
specified circumstances, (2) obstruct or impede the use of an animal facility or the use of a
natural resource without effective consent under specified circumstances, or (3) participate
in or support animal or ecological terrorism by performing specified acts. The prohibition
does not apply to government agencies and their employees, employees of financial
institutions, secured parties, employees of an animal control authority acting within the scope
of employment, or participants in otherwise legal employee or employment organization
labor-related disputes. If the damage to property does not exceed $1,500, the offender is
guilty of a gross misdemeanor (up to one year in jail and/or a $5,000 fine). If the damage
to property exceeds $1,500, the offender is guilty of an unranked class C felony (up to one
year in jail and/or a $10,000 fine). Any violation that results in the intentional or negligent
infliction of bodily harm to any individual is punished as a class B felony ranked at level 6
on the sentencing grid (12+ to 14 months imprisonment and/or a $20,000 fine for a first
offense). A sentence outside the standard range is authorized if any of the offenses result in
the death of a human being or the death or destruction of an animal.

In addition the bill calls for the creation of a publicly available registry of anyone convicted under the statute,

A registry of animal and ecological terrorists is created. Upon conviction for an act
contained in the chapter, the offender must register with the Attorney General on a proscribed
form and notify the Attorney General if the information changes. The Attorney General
creates a website containing the information. The offender’s information remains on the
website for not less than three years. After that time, the offender may apply to the Attorney
General for removal of the information after a hearing.

On January 29, the bill was approved on a 6-2 vote by the Senate’s judiciary committee and moved on to the Ways and Means committee for its consideration.

The law was proposed in response to the August release of about 10,000 mink from a Sultan, Washington farm. Kate Roesler, co-owner of the mink farm, told the Spokane Spokesman-Review that existing laws would impose a maximum punishment of 1 year in jail for the release which caused an estimated $500,000 loss.

On the other hand, Lindsay Saibara of the Northwest Animal Rights Network told the Spokane Spokesman-Review that she worried the law might harm groups like hers,

It can target organizations like ours, that work within the legal system
and above ground.

At the time of the release, the Northwest Animal Rights Network celebrated the release of the mink and dismissed suggests that the mink might pose any ecological threat. As NARN’s Andrew Knight said at the time,

The amount of suffering that has been prevented by releasing them [the mink] from cramped cages and freeing them from an extremely cruel death more than justifies a temporary disruption to the ecosystem.

The full text of the proposed bill can be read here.

Sources:

Bill targets ‘eco-terrorism’; It would toughen penalties, create registry. Richard Roesler, Spokane Spokesman-Review (Washington), January 16, 2004.

Netherlands Police Arrest Dozens of Activists in Fur Farm Attack

Dutch police arrested dozens of animal rights activists after a September 5 attack on a fur farm that resulted in the release of more than 6,000 animals.

According to Finnish newspaper Helsingin Sanomat, a group of about 120 animal rights activists from several different countries arrived at the fur farm in Putten, The Netherlands, arriving in two buses and several personal vehicles.

According to witnesses, the activists clashed with the farmers and neighbors, broke an alarm system at the farm, damaged vehicles, threw stones at buildings, and released about 6,000 mink.

Forty-nine activists were eventually arrested after a quick-thinking farmer blocked one of the buses by parking his tractor across a road that the bus was attempting to leave by. Another bus, however, managed to leave the area.

Unfortunately, Helsingin Sanomat never publishes the names of accused criminals, but it did report that,

Helsingin Sanomat has information according to which the group compromises hard-line activists who have been arrested or convicted of crimes related to animal rights activism.

Seven of these previously registered activists are believed to be Finns. One of them faces charges related to a farm raid in Finland two years ago.

The arrests apparently also generated quite a bit of controversy in The Netherlands from farmers who wonder why the attack wasn’t prevented since Dutch police admitted they were aware the activists were meeting in The Netherlands as part of an event sponsored by Justice for Animals and, moreover, were aware of threats of just such raids. As Dutch Member of Parliament L.J. Griffith asked,

If the police cannot even trace animal activists, when [sic] what about al-Qaeda?

Sources:

Finnish animal rights activists arrested after mink farm raid in The Netherlands. Helsingin Sanomat, September 10, 2003.

Four Finnish animal rights activists still held in Dutch jail. Helsingin Sanomat, September 12, 2003.

Dutch mink farmer upset by Finnish animal rights activists. Helsingin Sanomat, September 16, 2003.

Activists Release 10,000 Mink from Washington State Farm

In late August, Animal Liberation Front extremists broke into a farm in Sultan, Washington and released approximately 10,000 mink.

The activists broke open cages at the Roesler Brothers Fur Farm causing damages estimated at more than half a million dollars.

Most of the released animals were recaptured, but not before doing significant damage at other farms in the area.

Washington farmer Jeff Weaver told the Associated Press that the released mink converged on his farm where they killed at least 25 animals, including geese, chicken and ducks. Weaver told the AP,

Over half our livestock was shredded. Murdered. Eaten alive. . . One of the mink had part of a chicken in its mouth and was headed for the creek. They’re starving. They’ll kill anything in their path.

Weaver estimated his losses at about $2,000.

But those who support such actions said that the net increase in animal well being was worth it. Andrew Knight, director of research at the Northwest Animal Rights Network, told the Associate Press,

The amount of suffering that has been prevented by releasing them [the mink] from cramped cages and freeing them from an extremely cruel death more than justifies a temporary disruption to the ecosystem.

The FBI is investigating the incident and the Fur Commission USA is offering a $100,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible.

Sources:

Scores of freed mink feed on farm animals. Associated Press, August 30, 2003.

Animal rights group frees thousands of minks. Associated Press, August 28, 2003.

Freed minks attack farm animals. Katherine Schiffner, Daily Herald (Washington), August 29, 2003.

Freed mink attack Sultan farms. Seattle Times, August 29, 2003.

Five Activists Arrested In Finland

On July 29, 2003, five animal rights activist were arrested in Finland after attempting to break into a fur farm in Maalahti.

The activist targeted a farm that had been the target of another activist raid in 2002 that resulted in the release of 1,00 mink.

This time around, a newly installed security system alerted the owner and a security company who in turn alerted police. Police stopped a card the five were apparently attempting to flee the scene in, and according to a newspaper report on the arrests discovered “a number of objects in the car similar to those used in previous fur farm raids.”

Source:

Attempted fur farm raid fails — police catch five animal rights activists. Helsingin Sanomat, July 30, 2003.

ALF/ELF Attack Spanish Mink Farm

The Animal Liberation Front and Earth Liberation Front took responsibility for a January 15, 2003 fire at a fur farm in Spain.

In a communique about the incident, the extremists responsible discuss how they first visited the site in 2002. Because there were dogs in the area where they wanted to firebomb, they settled for using bolt cutters to break into the area where the mink sheds were. When they entered the sheds, however, the cages were empty.

The communique continues,

Of course we returned some weeks later with a new plan. There was no wall, no fence or security strong enough to stop our determination in ending this aggression to the earth or to life.

Our second visit was a success and as we got closer to the farm we saw a group of hinds and deer gracing peacefully in the fields near the farm. We parked the vehicle in the same place as the first time and we went to Austwitch with four cans of kerosene. To get inside we used the same holes that were made the first time, we climbed the wall and we marked on it the exit holes with branches in case of possible problems. We ignited the incendiary devices and we took some photos.

A black cloud of smoke from the farm could be seen some miles away (the moon was near to full).

Whoever wrote that concludes with a flourish that the arson was “dedicated” to “the palestinian people . . . and Barry Horne.”

Source:

Spanish Mink Farm Fire – Communique! Arkangel, March 25, 2003.