Animal rights activists are targeting the fur industry with a vengeance. Raids on fur farms across the U.S. have resulted in setting thousands of mink free, and they are just getting started.
In the past three months, 11 raids have taken place that have resulted in the release of at least 9,071 animals, according to the Animal Liberation Press Office. Farms in Minnesota, Iowa, Idaho, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Ohio, Montana and Utah have been hit by liberators who are devoted to ending animal exploitation and the fur industry, not only by setting animals free, but by causing economic damage with a tactic known as monkeywrenching.
Michael Whelan, executive director of the Fur Commission U.S.A., called the activists criminal thugs and felons who are committing federal crimes. He also disputed the number of raids, telling the New York Times there have only been seven since July.
Either way, the war is on. Each side continues to point the finger at the other for being a terrorist, but only one is right in the eyes of the law. Freeing mink is a federal crime under the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act, but liberators still argue the only acts of terror being committed are the violent ones inflicted by humans on the animals who are used in exploitive industries. Even if you don’t agree with these particular tactics, it’s hard to see the side that’s fighting to end the suffering of sentient creatures as the real terrorists in this equation.
For fur-bearing animals on farms, following short lives of intensive confinement in small barren cages, a gruesome death will come via anal electrocution, gassing or neck-breaking before they’re skinned for a luxury product no one actually needs. According to Whelan, most of the demand for mink is coming from overseas, with China importing at least 70 percent of the pelts from the U.S.
For mink on fur farms, the demand for their fur has left them with miserable lives that come with enough psychological stress to cause them to self-mutilate or resort to cannibalism. They’ll never be able to roam as they would in the wild or to experience other natural behaviors like swimming. With few or no laws to even ensure how they’re kept and killed, fur-bearers trapped on fur farms in the U.S. are essentially on their own.
The inherent cruelty of fur farming has raised ethical concerns that have led to bans in Austria, Croatia and the United Kingdom. Fur farms will soon disappear from the Netherlands, while Israel’s working on a blanket ban that would end the import, export and sale of fur products. Other areas that don’t have outright bans have restrictions and laws that would make it cost-prohibitive to run a farm.
Following raids some argue that the mink who are released won’t make it in the wild, but wildlife biologists have found that animals who get loose are able to integrate into the landscape and survive. One study that tracked released mink found that none of them died because they lacked survival skills or natural instincts.
Peter Young, who previously served time for his role in mink farm raids, countered that their chance of survival on farms is zero anyway. They’re bred and raised specifically to be killed. If one does actually get away and survives free in the wild then it’s a success.
With pelting season only a few weeks away and vows from liberators to continue freeing more animals and deliver the final nail to the fur industry, more raids can be expected in the near future.
Photo credit: Dzivnieku briviba