What really happens when misguided animal-rights zealots break into fur farms, cut fences, open cages and “liberate” mink? Here are five facts about “mink liberation” the Animal Liberation Front (ALF) and their activist cheerleaders don’t want you to know!
1. Most “liberated” mink don’t enjoy their “freedom” for long!
Farmed mink are not wild animals. They have been raised in captivity for more than 100 generations – that’s more than 2,000 years in human terms – and are ill-equipped to fend for themselves in nature.
In fact, farmed mink have been selectively bred to be less aggressive and have never had to hunt for their food. Many “liberated” mink therefore die from dehydration or starvation. And because they associate the sound of vehicles with the arrival of the farmer’s motorized feed cart, many are attracted to roads where they are run over by cars.
In their boastful press releases, activists never show the mangled results of these deadly encounters. The media also generally choose to protect public sensibilities. But mink farmers are left to clean up the remains of animals they cared for since birth.
The carnage is not pretty, but we decided that the public has a right to see the truth about these mink “liberations”. I took the following picture last Fall on the road outside a Quebec mink farm, the day after activists broke in and released several hundred mink. So far, no one has been charged for intentionally subjecting mink to the suffering you see here:
2. Mink that do survive, wreak havoc on local livestock and biodiversity
Inevitably, some “liberated” mink do survive, at least for a while, and especially if neighbours keep an outdoor chicken run or duck pond! The results are not good for the chickens and ducks.
Mink are notorious for going into a murderous feeding frenzy when the opportunity arises; they will bloodily wipe out dozens of hens or ducks within minutes.
Even more worrisome for biologists is the potential for the transmission of disease, to and from wild populations, and the possibility of weakening the gene pool if even a few domesticated mink survive long enough to mate with their wild cousins.
3. Releasing nursing females is just plain stupid!
Releasing farm-raised mink is never a good idea, but it takes a special sort of idiot to break into a farm while the females are nursing their young. This is exactly what some still-unidentified pea-brains did last month in southern Ontario. During the night of May 30-31, they cut the perimeter fence of a mink farm near the town of St. Mary’s and opened the cages of 1,600 nursing females.
The young kits, just 2-4 weeks old, are completely dependent on their mothers. With little or no fur (some still won’t even have their eyes open), they can easily die from hypothermia or dehydration. The farmers spend long hours in the barn through this critical period, to ensure that the kits are nursing and well cared for.
Luckily, most of the females “liberated” in St. Mary’s did not go very far when their cages were opened, precisely because their young kits were nearby. So most of the females were quickly rescued, but there was no way of knowing which litters belonged to which!
Farmers will sometimes move nursing kits from large litters to be adopted by a female with fewer young. But this is done slowly and carefully, to ensure that the female will accept her new charge. But in St. Mary’s, there was no choice but to return the females to cages at random, and hope that their maternal instinct would win out.
4. The livelihood of small family farms is put in jeopardy
A farm invasion is clearly very damaging: the female mink have been fed and cared for since the previous year, and the kits represent the income needed to cover these and other expenses. The damage to the livelihood of the farm family, however, goes far beyond these immediate losses.
The success of a mink farm is directly related to the quality of the fur produced. Fur quality, in turn, is determined by nutrition and care, but also by genetics. Each year, mink farmers carefully select the animals they will retain for reproduction; they are constantly working to improve the quality of their herd.
Tragically, although most “liberated” mink are quickly recovered, their genetic history is usually lost. Breeding records are kept on cards attached to the mink pens. But there is no way to know which pens the recovered mink were released from. Since many North American farms are now operated by a second or third generation of the family, decades of genetic records – and work – are lost.
ALF criminals know all this: on their websites they brag about destroying breeding records and encourage others to do the same. How can these misguided activists claim to be “non-violent” when they destroy the life-work of several generations?
5. Mink “liberations” are a direct attack on democracy and everyone’s freedom!
The recent attack on the St. Mary’s, Ontario mink farm occurred on a weekend billed by radical extremists as “a day of direct action”.
Responsibility for the attack was claimed by an anonymous group in a “communiqué” (ALF’s preferred term for a press release) posted by the “Animal Liberation Press Office”.
The communiqué makes chilling reading for anyone who values democracy and personal freedom. In addition to the muddled collection of misinformation (e.g., claims that farmed mink are “mercilessly trapped in painful leghold traps” and suffer “a painful and agonizing death” on farms), the text states openly that Animal Liberation Front activists are using “economic sabotage” to raise costs for people working with animals, with the goal of putting them out of business.
On a personal level, farmers and their families are being terrorized by these attacks on their property, their animals and their livelihoods. (Intruders are sometimes armed with baseball bats and other weapons.) On a broader level, it is all of society that is threatened by people who think their beliefs give them the right to break into private property and sabotage legal businesses.
And what do mainstream animal activist groups say about such criminal activity? Unfortunately, they often resort to Orwellian doublespeak: “We do not support illegal activity,” they insist. “But we understand why some people feel the need to stop this industry at any cost!”
Nice try. But we can turn this doublespeak on its head: if mainstream groups did not play so fast and loose with the facts in their verbal attacks on the fur trade, perhaps impressionable young activists would not be lured into such criminal activity!
What else do you think ALF doesn’t want us to know about mink “liberation”? Please leave a comment below! And see what Fur Commission USA has to say about mink “liberation”.