From ANIMAL PEOPLE, July/August 1997:

LAKE CITY, Utah––A turning point in
the evolution of animal rights-related direct
action may have come when within days of
the airing of graphic media coverage of the
May 31 botched release of up to 9,600 mink
from a fur farm at Mount Angel, Oregon,
authorities in Vancouver and Salt Lake City
identified suspects in two apparently unrelated
strings of purportedly animal rightsrelated
Released were as many as 1,600
adult females and 6,000-8,000 kits. An estimated
400 adults and 2,000 kits either died
of exposure, killed each other in fierce territorial
fighting, were apparently trampled
underfoot by the raiders, or were missing
with little chance of survival in habitat
unlikely to sustain their metabolic needs.

Spokespersons for the National
Security Investigations Division of the
Royal Canadian Mounted Police indicated
that a long surveillance led them to name
David Nathan Barbarash, 31, and Darren
Todd Thurston, 26, in court papers
described by Greg Middleton of T h e
Vancouver Province on June 4. They are
suspected of sending more than 70 exploding
parcels between mid-1995 and February
1996, from mousetraps that flung razor
blades said to be tipped with AIDS-infected
blood, to a pipe bomb that reportedly
almost killed researcher Terry Mitenko, of
Cochrane, Alberta, on June 11, 1995.
The first sequence of parcels went
mostly to Toronto-area targets, also including
Holocaust denier Ernst Zundel and white
supremacist Charles Scott, and were
claimed by the “Militant Direct Action Task
Force.” Newspaper accounts hinted that
another such parcel might have gone to the
Mackenzie Institute, a far-right “think-tank”
apparently involved in a conservative recapture
of the Toronto Humane Society from an
“animal rights” faction during the early
The second parcel sequence,
claimed by “The Justice Department,” went
mainly to British Columbia hunting guides
and media.
The court papers cited the RCMP
interception of nearly 3,000 e-mail, fax,
and telephone messages over a year’s time,
and the confiscation of computers, clothing,
and address books during a March 20 series
of raids on the Vancouver homes of the suspects
and their close associates, a day after
Thurston reportedly found police bugs in his
car. However, Barbarash and Thurston
have apparently not been taken into custody,
and no information was available to explain
why, with so much purported evidence in
hand for so long, the RCMP had not sought
warrants, made arrests, or laid charges.
Indeed, wrote Middleton, “Even
before the razor-blade-letter campaign
began, Barbarash and Thurston were under
police surveillance. A special surveillance
squad followed Thurston to a storage facility
in Vancouver. Police say they found material
to make bombs, bomb-making manuals,
and file cards with razor blades. They
marked some of the cards with invisible ink.
They say those marked cards later showed
up in the mail of some of the terror targets.”
U.S. authorities disclosed much
less about sources of information leading to
the June 20 indictment of Douglas Joshua
Ellerman, 19, still at large, on 16 counts
pertaining to the March 11 pipebombing of
the Fur Breeders Agricultural Cooperative in
Sandy Spring, Utah.
In both instances, however, there
were hints that after years of failure to infiltrate
the Animal Liberation Front and other
clandestine animal rights groups, law
enforcement might have received leads from
insiders, who––still fervent about animal
rights––may have had doubts about allowing
direct action to become violence.
“We want to make clear that
Barbarash and Thurston are no longer associated
with us,” Bear Watch spokesperson
Eric Donnelly told Middleton. Both
Barbarash and Thurston were formerly Bear
Watch paid staff. Bear Watch founder and
reported primary funder Susan Bloom, of
Saltspring Island, British Columbia, warned
other staff to distance themselves from
Barbarash and Thurston upon learning of
their criminal histories, Middleton wrote.
Barbarash and one Kenneth
Quayle, two years older, were arrested
together in alleged possession of bomb-making
materials on January 19, 1988 in
Toronto. Three women, apparently not
named in press accounts, were arrested at
the same time. Barbarash was reportedly
then a contract researcher with the Toronto
Humane Society. He was suspected of participating
in vandalism against the
University of Toronto school of dentistry
almost a year earlier, but was convicted
only of painting animal rights slogans on the
walls of a fried chicken store.
In June 1992, Barbarash and
Thurston were jointly accused of taking 29
cats from a University of Edmonton laboratory.
Thurston was in 1993 convicted of
that action and of torching three trucks at an
Edmonton fish processing plant in 1991.
Barbarash fled to the U.S., where he was
apprehended and deported in May 1994.
Barbarash and Thurston were believed to
have associated with then-ALF fugitive Rod
Coronado, now serving a federal prison
term as an alleged accessory to arsons
against laboratories, fur farms, and meat
trucks in the U.S., but Barbarash’s attorney
at the deportation hearing, Larry Weiss,
denied that the Barbarash arrest led to the
capture of Coronado three months later.
Ellerman, the Utah suspect, was
named after at least eight other Salt Lake
City-area activists were arrested in April and
May for alleged participation in arsons
against fur, leather, and meat outlets. Four
have already been convicted, three face
trial, and one was remanded to the juvenile
justice system. According to Salt Lake
T r i b u n e reporter Vince Horiuchi, all were
associated with an “anti-drug, anti-sex
group” called Straight Edge.
None of the Vancouver and Salt
Lake City suspects are believed to have been
directly involved in the Mount Angel fur
farm raid, but Coalition to Abolish the Fur
Trade founder J.P. Goodwin told media
from Dallas that it was the 29th such action
since late 1995, most of which have
occurred in Utah. Other attempted releases
in Ontario and upstate New York also
reportedly resulted in hundreds of mink
deaths, but to much less notice. Five
Michigan activists were arrested in the act of
allegedly trying to release mink from the
Ebert Fur Farm in Blenheim, Ontario, the
night of March 31.

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