by Will Potter, originally posted on Green is the New Red, October 24, 2011
Kellie Marshall and Victor Vandoren, both from Austin, Texas, are accused of attempting to release mink from a fur farm in Sioux City, Iowa. At a court date last week, their charges were increased to include two class D felonies in addition to two misdemeanors.
Police allege that Marshall and Vanorden used bolt cutters to cut several holes in a fence at the mink farm, and that a vehicle near the property had hiking maps and a police scanner.
As former Animal Liberation Front prisoner Peter Young noted, the same fur farm was raided by underground animal rights activists in 1997, and approximately 5,000 mink and more than 100 silver foxes were freed.
It’s not clear yet if the two will face Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act charges. However, with recent raids in Jewell, Iowa (freeing 1,500 mink), Washington State (freeing 1,000 mink) and Oregon (freeing 300 mink), industry groups like the Fur Commission have been making the media rounds calling this crimes “terrorism.”
Kellie Marshall and Victor Vandoren are facing about 10 years in prison and are being held in county jail on bond. You can write them a letter or make a donation to their legal support at supportkellieandvictor.blogspot.com.
Why don’t you focus on reducing the demand for mink? When you simply release minks, raised in pens all of their lives, they will most likely die of starvation or thirst. A rather horrible death. Those minks that do survive and adapt to life on the outside will kill lots of wildlife. Releasing minks is a bad idea all around. Again, a better idea is to encourage people not to buy products.
Obviously reducing the demand for mink from industrial farming operations is the priority of liberationists and biocentrists. And the direct action of sabotage and liberation has gotten closer to that goal than any other avenues. The elitist consumers of fur don’t generally respond to gentle encouragement.
Also, research shows that captive mink can survive in the wild (http://www.voiceofthevoiceless.org/liberated-mink-survive-in-the-wild-study-shows/ .) If you have research to the contrary, from a source other than the fur industry, lets see it. As for impacts to wildlife, yes this concern which should be taken into consideration. For example, mink liberators should be aware of potential impacts to any ground-dwelling threatened or endangered species in the local vicinity and take that into consideration in large-scale releases.
But there is also a deeper challenge posed in this conversation: how do we respond to instances where there is a clash between conservation biology and ending captivity. At a gut level, the urge towards wild freedom for all species seems it should take precedent over any scientific formulas for preservation of particular species. But who among us wishes to carry the burden of new extinctions on our conscience?
Liberty and wildness tend to go hand in hand. But what do we do when the right for one to be free comes in conflict with the right for another to exist at all? We’d like to publish something relating to this broader theme in the Earth First! Journal.. So send us your submissions.