2,400 minks who had spent their lives in dark cages felt grass and went swimming for the first time on July 28th. Then they bounded off into their new lives of freedom, according to the people who broke into the farm and opened their cages.
The animals were breeding stock at an Idaho mink farm, living solely to create more minks who would suffer and die for human vanity. They were released by an anonymous group, according to a communique published by Earth First! Newswire.
Conditions on U.S. fur farms are barbaric. Born Free describes a typical set-up:
On fur farms, animals such as foxes, mink, ferrets, and sables (an animal in the weasel family) spend their entire lives stacked on top of one other in barren cages with nothing beneath their feet but wire mesh. Those in the topmost cages are marginally more fortunate; they do not have feces falling into their food and water from animals imprisoned above. In many cases, multiple animals are forced to share a single, tiny cage. They may have no protection from wind, rain, or snow, save a roof on an “open” shed.
These minks’ babies were destined for particularly gruesome deaths after just six to 12 months of life. The industry’s priority in slaughter is not to mar their fur, with no consideration for their suffering and no federal laws regulating their executions. One method is to stuff them into a box and gas them with car exhaust. The carbon monoxide does not kill all of them, though, and the unlucky survivors are conscious while they are skinned alive. Some operations inject animals with paralytics that also leave them fully conscious while they are skinned. A GRAPHIC video of live skinning taken on a Chinese fur farm includes some of the most disturbing footage I have ever seen, which is saying something.
Another killing method is forcing metal rods into their anuses and mouths to electrocute the minks to death. The procedure doesn’t always work the first time and has to be repeated. Breaking minks’ necks is also popular.
The anonymous Idaho liberators chose the fur farm they targeted for a reason: it belongs to Cindy Moyle, a board member of Fur Commission USA. The fur farming industry’s apologist group, FCUSA, claims that animals like the liberated minks have “comfortable housing”; it also contends that animals farmed for fur are “among the world’s best cared-for livestock,” which isn’t saying much. According to the liberators, FCUSA has prioritized improved security at fur farms, and the Moyle family’s farms and tannery were considered “impenetrable.” Apparently not.
Though plenty of wild animals die in bone-shattering leg-hold traps and are then sold for their fur, the American domesticated fur farm industry thrives. 265 U.S. fur farms produced 2.82 million mink pelts in 2010, a number that doesn’t include the foxes, beavers, and other species who are also farmed for their coats. That year the average price for a pelt — and the economic value of each tragic, short life — was $81.90. In the same year, fur suppliers bred 701,000 female mink baby-makers, like the ones liberated in Idaho.
FCUSA has its own version of what happened to those freed minks. It claims that 3,800 animals were released but only a few stepped foot off the farm, that they could not survive in the wild, and that many of them were rescued from roads because they associated the sound of traffic with “the feed cart.” Ironically, Cindy Moyle complained that the minks who escaped “will suffer and die painfully.” That is just what she had in store for them herself.
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