Fur farm raids, indictments, conviction

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, October 1998:

MADISON, Wisconsin ––Peter D. Young, 20, of Mercer Island, Washington, and Justin C. Samuel, 19, of Snohomish, Washington, were on September 22 indicted on six counts of engaging in anti-animal enter- prise terrorism and extortion, for allegedly releasing mink from four Wisconsin fur farms between October 24 and October 27, 1997, and allegedly attempting to use the threat of further releases to coerce fur farmers into quit- ting the business.

The indictment charges that Young and Samuel, both at large, caused a $200,000 loss to the Smieja Fur Farm of Independence, Wisconson, forcing it to cease operations.

U.S. attorney Peggy Lautenschlager told the Milwaukee Journal that Young and Samuel were not presently considered suspects in either the August 28 release of about 3,000 mink from Brown’s Mink Ranch near Beloit, the release of circa 2,800 mink the same night near Rochester, Minnesota, or the July 4 release of 161 mink and 10 ferrets from the United Vaccines laboratory in Middleton, Wisconsin.

Founded in 1937 by Dwight Brown, father of present owner Gary Brown, Brown’s Mink Ranch is among the oldest in the U.S.

About 2,000 of the Brown mink, 2,300 of the Rochester mink, and 100 of the Middleton mink plus nine of the ferrets were soon recaptured. Many of the rest were found dead, either from stress or as roadkill. Young and Samuel were apprehend- ed on October 28, 1997, by the Sheboygan County Sheriff’s Department, acting on a tip from local fur farmers. A search of their car discovered a list of fur farm addresses pub- lished on the Animal Liberation Front web site, the sheriff’s office said.

Seven years

Why Young and Samuel were released and why the indictment was delayed for almost 11 months was not explained. Eleven days earlier, U.S. District Judge J. Thomas Greene of Salt Lake City sen- tenced Douglas Joshua Ellerman, 20, to seven years in prison for allegedly participating in the March 11, 1997 bombing of the Fur Breeders Agricultural Cooperative in Sandy, Utah. Six pipe bombs detonated in 15 min- utes, destroying five trucks and an office, doing about $900,000 worth of damage. Truck driver Ben Flitton, his wife, and their two-year-old son were asleep on the premises, but escaped injury.

Facing up to 35 years, Ellerman failed to appear for his first sentencing hear- ing, in May, but surrendered on June 29. He reportedly received leniency after providing

“substantial” cooperation to investigators.

Immediately after Ellerman was sen- tenced, further federal indictments were issued in the bombing case against Clinton Colby Ellerman, 19, who is Douglas Ellerman ’s younger brother; Andrew N. Bishop, 24, of Ithaca, New York; Alexander David Slack, 23, of Sandy, Utah; Adam Troy Peace, 20, of Huntington Beach, California; and Sean Albert Gautschy, 23, of Salt Lake City.

Peace, Slack, Gautschy, and Douglas Ellerman also face state indictments for allegedly releasing mink from various Utah fur farms in June and July 1996.

Federal charges were later filed against an unnamed California man, age 22, for allegedly releasing 3,000 mink and destroying genetic records at the Holt Mink Ranch in South Jordan, Utah, in July 1996–– an incident of which Peace, Slack, Gautschy, and Douglas Ellerman are also accused.

Abroad

In Hampshire, Britain, nine days after the August 8 release of 6,000 mink from the Crow Hill Fur Farm, another 1,000 mink were released from the same site– –possibly including some of those who were recaptured following the first incident. The ALF claimed credit for both releases. The first group of mink overran the adjacent New Forest Preserve, killed raptors underoing rehabilita- tion at the New Forest Owl Sanctuary, and touched off a flurry of shooting by panic- stricken local farmers, gardeners, gamekeep- ers, birdwatchers, and pet owners. The two releases came after Ian Stroud, 42, formerly employed at the Crow Hill Fur Farm to gas mink, was charged with illegally swinging mink who bit him by the tail or head and bashing them against cages or the floor. Caught in the act on a clandestine video made by the activist group Respect For Animals, Stroud on September 1 pleaded guilty to six counts of cruelty, and was sen- tenced to do 150 hours of community service.

Crow Hill Fur Farm owner Terrence Smith has reportedly transferred Stroud to a job on another farm, where he has no contact with animals.

September 17 brought the biggest British mink release yet, as 8,000 were cut loose from the Kelbain Mink Farm in Onneley, 250 miles northwest of the previous releases. About 2,000 left the premises.

In between, an estimated 4,000 mink were released from a farm at Kirkko- nummi, Finland, near Helsinki. Finland ranks second in the world in pelting ranched mink, and first in pelting ranched foxes.

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