Animal advocacy meets The War on Terror
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, March 2002:
SALT LAKE CITY–Utah County coyotes got a break from
terrorism during the Winter Olympic Games held in and around Salt
“Because of the no-fly restriction in effect withn 45 miles
of the Games from midnight on February 7 through midnight on February
24, USDA Wildlife Services could not conduct aerial coyote control,”
Deseret News staff writer Sharon Hadlock reported.
Those weeks are usually peak coyote-strafing time for
Wildlife Services, as snow makes their tracks visible to helicopter
While coyotes got a break, however, the Olympic Command
Performance Rodeo was presented as scheduled by the Professional
Rodeo Cowboys Association, as part of the Cultural Olympiad.
Contrary to promises made by Salt Lake City Organizing
Committee president Mitt Romney and other Olympic officials to
anti-rodeo protesters, the top cowboys were reportedly given
imitation Olympic medals.
But SHARK, PETA, and the Utah Animal Rights Coalition were
satisfied, they said, that they had educated the public about rodeo
violence to animals.
Preceding the Olympic torch run from Chicago to Salt Lake
City, the SHARK video truck showed tens of thousands of people
undercover footage of electroshocking, tail-taking, and other rough
treatment of cattle and horses at recent rodeos–and won news media
notice from Europe to Japan.
“The Davis County Clipper is reporting that the Olympic rodeo
took in $66,000 less than its expenses,” said SHARK founder Steve
Hindi. “Most of the money was spent on security. The rodeo
promoters claimed they needed security against terrorists. Some of
the rodeo people called us terrorists–an interesting claim from
people who have shown their propensity for violence against both
animals and people who try to protect them,” Hindi added.
Hindi recalled that as the SHARK video truck rolled through
Provo on February 5, “rodeo fans attacked us with sticks, threw
rocks, spat on the truck, and used obscene words and gestures.”
The incidents were captured on video, along with others–and
tail-and-ear-pulling of calves that PRCA spokesperson Cindy
Schonholtz told reporters did not happen, just before SHARK
presented the proof.
“The truth is,” Hindi alleged, “their financial losses were
because of their paranoia that an animal protector might get into the
arena with a video camera. But some of us did get in, and one of us
had a video camera, and she did videotape animal abuse!”
The only activity anywhere that might have been construed as
anti-rodeo terrorism occurred at the Tucson Rodeo Grounds, in
Tucson, Arizona, 775 miles south. There, at 2 a.m. on February
23, an unidentified woman allegedly gained access to the stables with
an authentic-looking security pass, sprayed seven horses belonging
to the Quadrille De Mujeres riding team with water-soluble
fluorescent paint, let the horses run free, and escaped. One horse
was apparently accidentally squirted in an eye.
Nothing linked the incident to a motive. Investigators
believe the most likely motive is some kind of personal dispute.
The lack of any “terrorism” in Salt Lake City by animal
advocates left Utah state representative Paul Ray, 35, scrambling
to defend his repeated allegations preceding the Olympics that SHARK
and PETA are “terrorist groups.”
Hindi has in fact been outspokenly critical of covert violent
actions throughout his involvement in animal rights, including
denouncing the arsons and bombings carried out around Salt Lake City
during the mid-1990s by militant vegans associated with socially
conservative Straight Edge movement.
Hindi cautioned Ray the first time Ray called SHARK a
“terrorist group,” in a January 3 letter of support for the Olympic
On February 3, however, Ray stated during a live TV
interview that “animal rights guys are terrorists. I called a duck a
duck. SHARK is a terrorist organization.”
On February 4, Hindi sued Ray for defamation.
Ray then told Nesreen Khashan of the Standard Examiner of
Utah that Hindi is a terrorist because he is a member of the Sea
Shepherd Conservation Society’s honorary board of advisors.
“That group is mentioned by the FBI,” Ray said. “They brag
that they sink ships.”
But the Sea Shepherds last claimed involvement in sinking a
ship on January 24, 1994, when the Norwegian whaler Senet was
scuttled at dockside–more than six years before Hindi accepted the
honorary advisory post.
Throughout the time Hindi has been an honorary Sea Shepherd
advisor, the Sea Shepherds have mainly done anti-poaching patrolling
around the Galapagos Islands and Cocos Island National Park, in
partnership with the wildlife law enforcement agencies of Ecuador and
On February 1 the Trial Board of Puntarenas, Costa Rica,
convicted the captain and owners of the Ecuadoran longline fishing
vessel San Jose I of fishing illegally off Cocos Island. The San
Jose I was confiscated and turned over the the Costa Rican Ministry
of Public Security for future use in patrolling around Cocos Island,
the owners were fined $300,000, and the captain was deported to
Ecuador in lieu of serving a three-year jail sentence.
“The captain and San Jose I were apprehended on August 21,
2001, by the Sea Shepherd ship Ocean Warrior, captained by Sea
Shepherd founder Paul Watson,” reported the Environmental News
Service. “The Sea Shepherds captured the mother ship and seven
tenders that were supplying it.”
Said Watson, “The National Park asked us for help because
their boats are too small to go up against the poachers’ main ships.
The poachers were caught in the act. As we boarded their last boat,
they were throwing hammerhead sharks overboard.”
At latest report, Hindi said, Ray was “hiding behind the
Utah Attorney General’s office, crying that he should get free legal
representation. Mr. Ray is claiming that he called SHARK and all
other animal protection organizations ‘terrorists’ in his capacity as
a Utah state legislator,” Hindi explained, “and so says the state
should cover him. That, ladies and gentlemen, is a ‘welfare cowboy.'”
Ray is among the sponsors of a reintroduced version of a Utah
state bill that would make a felony of trespassing on a ranch or mink
farm with intent to disrupt operations. The original version was
passed into law but was then struck down as unconstitutionally vague
and overreaching. The new version, reportedly little changed,
cleared the Utah house in late January, and cleared the Utah senate
judiciary committee on February 6 after a hearing at which no
opponents were allowed to speak.
Wise-use Congressional Representatives and Members of the
British Parliament also seized the opportunity after September 11 to
equate militant advocacy for animals and habitat with
terrorism–without noteworthy success. Stronger British
anti-terrorism legislation was already virtually assured of passage,
limiting chances for legislative grandstanding about it, while
hearings convened on alleged environmental terrorism by U.S. House
forest subcommittee chair Scott McInnis (R-Colorado) on February 13
took turns McInnis apparently did not anticipate.
Billings Gazette Wyoming bureau reporter Mike Stark found
most compelling the testimony of 23-year U.S. Forest Service employee
Gloria Flora about the violence she and her staff encountered from
wise-users during her tenure as a manager at the Lewis and Clark
National Forest in Montana and the Humbolt-Toiyabe National Forest in
Nevada. Flora resigned in 1999. One of her foes was reportedly
later accused of planning to detonate propane tanks in California in
hopes of starting a revolution.
The star witness at the McInnis hearings was supposed to have
been former Earth Liberation Front spokesperson Craig Rosebraugh.
Not much came of that, reported Mike Soraghan of the Denver Post
“Hours after former Enron chair Kenneth Lay took the Fifth
Amendment before a Senate committee,” Soraghan said, Rosebraugh
“invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination more
than 50 times.”
ALF & ELF
Rosebraugh reportedly announced after September 11 that he
would no longer speak for the Earth Liberation Front. Oregon College
of Arts & Crafts student Leslie James Pickering, 23, on February 3
introduced himself to media as Rosebraugh’s successor.
David Barbarash, British Columbia spokesperson for the
Animal Liberation Front, claimed in January that the ALF and ELF
carried out 137 raids and attacks of various kinds during 2001. The
claimed ALF actions focused on animal use industries; the ELF
actions focused on genetic engineering. Most amounted to petty
The seven post-September 11 incidents of note included a
September 21 arson at a storage building 200 feet from the main
chimpanzee housing at the Coulston Foundation in Alamogordo, New
Mexico; an October 15 hay barn arson at Bureau of Land Management
wild horse holding corrals located 21 miles northeast of Susanville,
California; an October 18 mink release and October 19 pigeon release
at farms in eastern Iowa; planting incendiary bombs at the U.J.
Noblet Forestry Building and the U.S. Forest Service Engineering
Laboratory on the Michigan Technical University campus on November 5,
both of which were found and removed before detonating; vandalizing
Sierra Bio-medical Inc., a San Diego subsidiary of Charles River
Laboratories, on November 11; and removing 30 beagles and 10
ferrets from Marshall Farms USA in North Rose, New York, on
Sierra Biomedical Inc. spokesperson Christopher DiFrancesco
told Ben Fox of Associated Press and Pauline Repard of the San Diego
Union-Tribune that the company suspects the damage there was actually
done by a disgruntled current or former employee. The Sierra
Biomedical Inc. attack came exactly two weeks after the company
announced layoffs of 20 technicians, and the description of the
damage distributed by Barbarash was unusually far at odds with what
was actually done.
Neither the ALF nor the ELF claimed a January 13 fire that
did $7 million worth of damage to the Nugget International lambskin
processing plant in Greeley, Colorado. The apparently accidental
blaze destroyed 175,000 lambskins and 125 tons of wool.
The first claimed ELF action of 2001 was a January 26 arson
at the site of the future Microbial & Plant Genetics Re-search Center
on the St. Paul campus of the University of Minnesota.
The U.S. ALF and ELF style themselves after the older British
ALF, which claims a relationship to traditional animal advocacy
approximating the relationship between the Irish nationalist
political party Sinn Fein and the outlawed Irish Republican Army.
In both the Irish nationalist struggle against British rule
of Northern Ireland and the British animal rights movement, covert
violence has been accompanied by public confrontations–in Northern
Ireland, with provocative marches and stone-throwing, and in the
animal rights struggle, with hunt sabotage and increasingly
In either cause, a cycle of retaliation tends to make the
mayhem self-perpetuating, losing reference to the original goals.
Much as the Ulster Defense Force emerged in the 1960s to
counter IRA terrorism with terrorism against Northern Irish
Catholics, a pro-hunting faction calling itself the Rural Rebels has
recently emerged in Britain. The Rural Rebels rationalize
deliberately escalating violence beyond the occasional irate hunter
riding over protesters and horsewhipping them by pointing toward
incidents in which ski-masked mobs have vandalized the homes of
hunters and biomedical researchers, and in some instances have
severely beaten them.
The most serious recent violence in the name of animal
rights, including at least 10 car-bombings, numerous arsons, and
beatings of employees, have targeted the testing firm Huntingdon
Huntingdon tests products on about 74,000 rodents, 750 dogs,
and 190 nonhuman primates per year, between labs in Britain and in
the U.S., but has slipped toward collapse since 1997, as activism
against the firm has intensified.
Advocates and rationalizers of violent tactics claimed a
victory when on January 9, a year after bailing Huntingdon out of
near bankruptcy, the Stephens Group of Little Rock, Arkansas,
announced that it was selling its 16% share of the firm and $33
million in loans to a new company, Life Sciences Research, based in
The Stephens Group was subjected to rowdy British-style
protests in Little Rock during October 2001 and again in January, as
militant activists converged from both the east and west coasts.
But as the Huntingdon assets were transferred to LSR,
whatever was gained was unclear. The Stephens Group asserted that
Huntingdon had again become a profitable enterprise, and hinted in
press releases that the laboratory work would continue under a
“privately held foreign entity.”
ANIMAL PEOPLE has warned repeatedly since May 2001 that
closing laboratories in nations with inspection and accountability
laws will not spare animals from ill treatment so long as animal
testing requirements remain in effect. Instead, testing will be
contracted out to the ever-growing number of animal research labs in
nations where there is little or no oversight of animal care and use,
and may also be little or none of the political freedom and awareness
of animal suffering needed to generate protest. The net result will
be cheaper testing and more animals used.
On February 5, meanwhile, the South Cambridgeshire District
Council rejected a Cam-bridge University plan to build a primate
brain research facility, from concern that it might attract protests
as heated as those directed against Huntingdon.
Again many protesters celebrated a victory–and as they did,
hints emerged that at least one similar facility was in planning in