Western Wildlife Unit of the Animal Liberation Front
Memories of Freedom
Chapter 2. The Radical Environmental Movement in America
Chapter 3. The Animal Rights Movement in America
Chapter 4. This is the ALF! — The Youth Take Charge...
Chapter 5. Fur Farming in America
Chapter 6. Operation Bite Back
Into The 90’s With The Alf. Going For The Throat: Oregon State University’s Experimental Fur Farm
Biting the Hand That Feeds You: Northwest Furbreeders Cooperative
The Night of Stars Falling: Washington State University
Down on the Farm...: Malecky Mink Ranch
The Michigan Mink Militia: Michigan State University
Chapter 7. The Hunt for the Warriors of the ALF
Chapter 8. The Last Bite: Animal Damaged Control
Chapter 9. Operation Bite Back: Epilogue
Chapter 10. The Capture of Rod Coronado
Chapter 11. Until the Last Fur Farm Burns to the Ground...
Chapter 12. “Brave Hearts Forward!”
Chapter 13. Letter From Rod Coronado
Chapter 14. The Story of Coyote Nations (just one chapter...)
Chapter 1. Take No Prisoners
Sitting around the campfire one night, some of us warriors of the Animal Liberation Front decided it was time we say a few words about our deeds as continually we are labeled by those outside of our circle as everything except what we are: Terrorists, Extremists, Fanatics, Doctors, Lawyers?, “Animal Rights Activists”. Sure there have been cells who might fit some of those descriptions, but not us. Since few people ever see our communiques except the corporate-controlled media, few would understand that our concerns go way beyond animal abuse. In our view from the shore, we see animal abuse as just one symptom of a much larger disease. That disease, which also brings us racism, sexism, militarism, environmental destruction, alcoholism, drug abuse, domestic violence, male domination and a downright bad attitude toward our fellow creation, just to name a few. What has caused us to be plagued with these diseases when the world we are given could be such a beautiful place? That’s not for us to discuss. We’re warriors, not philosophers. Whatever it is, we see that disease slowly creeping into our various struggles and it makes us want to cry. Rumors, back-biting, inflated egos, trying to get laid, trying to raise funds by appearing “respectable”, we’ve all seen it and it’s causing our movement to self-destruct, just as they begin to become truly the catalyst for real change. Now we’re far from perfect ourselves; we have made our mistakes, hurt each other, but from where we stand we are far from giving up. We don’t want to see others make the same mistakes we have made, hence this ‘zine. This is a story. The story of a handful of people who cared enough to risk their lives and freedom for what they believe. For Earth and for the release of the prisoners of the war on nature. It hasn’t been without its costs. Though we are all here tonight, one of us is sitting in an 11 by 7 foot cell in Federal Prison for the next four years. He isn’t the first and he sure as hell won’t be the last. In this story there are many chapters. We are but one. The rest is up to you. We are here to tell you about our moments of victory and defeat. Our moments of tremendous joy at being alive on this beautiful planet earth as we fought proudly in her defense, and our moments of great despair when the whole world seemed against us. Mostly this ‘zine is about a struggle that began before our great grandparents were alive. It’s about a spirit. The spirit of freedom and the spirit of the wild that refuses to be tamed. It’s about a struggle that began long before the term “Animal Rights” was ever spoken. When Earth First! wasn’t a slogan, but a way of life... and death. It’s about remembering the past and remembering that those of us who choose to represent the Earth Mother and her Animal Nations now inherit a responsibility that others have been killed fulfilling and which we must put before anything else in our lives, including our own freedom if necessary. It’s about power. Not man-made power, but the power that only the spirit of Earth can give us. The power we receive when we awaken to the sounds of the coyotes song, and the howling wind through the last ancient oldgrowth trees. Power that no man can give us and power that no man can take away. Power that can lift us above our enemies to become the type of warriors we only hear about in myths and legends. Power that is just waiting for us to rediscover and unleash. It is about breaking the chains wrapped around us beginning on that first day of school, the first day of work. Chains that slowly wrap around us until we are ready to be considered responsible adults, but because of those chains we have forgotten how to move, how to be free, how to live in harmony with all of life, with the four-leggeds, the winged ones and all the animal people as our brothers and sisters.
Let’s face it, many of us are afraid. Afraid of being wrong. Afraid of being alone. Afraid of spending years on prison. Afraid of being shot or incinerated, like 60 adults and 24 children in Waco, Texas at the bloody hands of the U.S. Government. Fear is our enemy’s greatest weapon because unlike having to place a police officer in every home, it is already there, waiting to be unleashed with carefully orchestrated images on corporate controlled T.V. and newspapers. Prison cells with their iron doors slamming shut, police beatings by batonwielding Nazis, “terrorists” being led away in orange suits and chains, images that keep our fear at being different alive and strong.
The Plains Indians have a saying they would yell going into battle, “Hoka Hey!” It is a good day to die! To us, that meant they had overcome that most common of fears, that fear of death. Unleashed from their fears of death, they would charge forward into battle against people who were very much afraid to die and as a result, those warriors won the only victory in which an unconditional surrender was signed by the U.S. Government, in its history, Red Clouds War of the 1860’s. Much like those of us who would rather die than live in a world without wilderness and animals, those brave warriors overcame their fears of imprisonment and death because they knew the power of the Earth was very real. Not just a belief, but a reality. Much more real than anything the U.S. Government had to offer. A reality where all animals were messengers and every mountain a cathedral. The stories we read about those tribes and their relationship with the Earth, Animals and their spirits, were not myth or folklore, they were and are real. Real enough to drive a human to sacrifice all in their world for the hope that future generations might share in that same power that lies within the spirit of every living being and flows through every wild creation. For the hope that you, the children of earth might awake to the screams of our tortured earth and her animal people. It is over 100 years since the true Warriors of the Earth gave their lives on this continent for the Earth Spirits and Animal People. Through the years, often the spirits of resistance have arisen, always to be beaten back by prisons and bullets, lies and deceit. Now it is your turn. Whether you realize it or not the spirit of all those fallen warriors are watching. Watching to see if you will rediscover the power that the Animal People and their wilderness homes can give us. The power that breaks our chains and awakens our spirit to the realization, that you represent possibly, the last hope for this planet we all call home.
There are those who can see the horrors of vivisection and fur farming. The oil covered shorelines and the clearcut mountainsides, and plod forward through the muck of lobbying, petitioning, letter-writing, politicking and protesting. This ‘zine is not for them. This ‘zine is for every young man and woman who has cried for the blood of the Earth, stood in shock, open-mouthed at the callousness and cruelty some can inflict on our peacefullest of fellow creations, the Animal People. For everyone who has ever felt helpless against an enemy a thousand times larger than yourself.
For those who cannot live with the pain of knowing that every morning the laboratory lights are turned on, the chainsaws are oiled and sharpened, the gas chambers are wheeled out to the pelting barns, and the slaughter is continuing, this is for you, so that you may never feel alone again, so that you may see that though we may never achieve total victory in our lifetimes, sometimes victory and freedom is ours simply by fighting, by breaking our own chains before we can break the chains of others.
For you we speak out and tell the story of what a handful of warriors can do, what a handful of warriors must do. A handful of people just like you.
Chapter 2. The Radical Environmental Movement in America
In the 1980’s much was happening to the previously mild environmental and animal rights movements in America. These movements had primarily been occupied with tactics ranging from petitioning, letter-writing, boycotts, lobbying, public-awareness campaigns and on the extreme, protests and civil disobedience. Reagan-era politics meant few victories in the fight to protect wilderness and animals despite the fact that animal issues have generated more mail to Washington D.C. than any other topic, including the Vietnam War. The earth-raping policies of James Watts’ Interior Department were some of the catalysts that brought rise to Earth First! and the phrase No Compromise In Defense of Mother Earth! For the first time in almost 100 years an organized resistance was born on behalf of wilderness and wildlife. Unfurling a huge “crack” across the face of Glen Canyon Dam, the dam that tamed the wild Colorado River, Earth First!ers declared themselves the modern day warriors of the environmental movement. One of the Earth First! movements first actions was the erection of a monument to Victorio, a Mimbes Apache leader who had attacked mining operations and camps in his quest for the liberation of his land and people. Though controversial in the modern West, the best was yet to come. One of the greatest tactics resurrected from indigenous resistance was the act of monkey wrenching which Earth First! openly spoke of, and advocated, that is the destruction of machinery and equipment being used to defile the earth and her wild places. Timber sales had trees spiked with long nails intended to deter sawmills from wanting to process the trees. Bulldozers were the target of mechanical sabotage as were other pieces of heavy equipment. Roads into critical wildlife habitat were spiked with intent to puncture tires of offending vehicles. Billboards began to fall across the West and survey stakes with their blaze orange tape were ripped from the earth at development sites.
Suddenly, when legitimate protests failed to protect a wilderness area, activists no longer felt helpless as the bulldozers rolled near, or the chainsaws began to roar.
Monkeywrenchers began to roam the west once more, leaving in their path incinerated and sabotaged mining and logging equipment along with spiked timber sales. The profit margin of earth destruction was narrowed as loggers, developers and road builders had to factor in the potential for sabotage. This meant increased security and high insurance premiums, all of which cut into the earth rapists’ profit margin. “Eco-Defense: A Field Guide To Monkeywrenching” by Dave Foreman became the bible of every earth warrior fed up with the ineffectiveness of legitimate protest, and served as a “how-to” manual for would-be saboteurs. In the West where Earth First! and monkeywrenching was the most prevalent, other activists who shared many of Earth First!’s sentiments began to see how those tactics could benefit animal liberations, as well as preservation. As the frustration of ineffectiveness and compromise were common place in both movements. The warriors of Earth began to awake from their long slumber.
Chapter 3. The Animal Rights Movement in America
At the same time Earth First! and monkeywrenching surfaced in the US, the animal rights movement in America began to employ a tactic that had originated in Britain. Breaking into animal research laboratories, rescuing the animals used in experiments and damaging the equipment used to conduct experimentation. Borrowing the name of an underground group in operation in the U.K. since the 1970’s, the Animal Liberation Front was born in the United States. More animals are killed in the U.S. for food, fur, research purposes and wildlife control than in any other country. After years of fighting legal battles to reduce the slaughter, with little or no effect, an avenue of action was born and activists rejoiced in the sight of videos released by the ALF depicting hooded members smashing down doors to enter animal labs and spiriting away the animals to freedom. The ALF brought a breath of fresh air to a previously stifling movement that rarely rocked the institutions of animal abuse it opposed.
Suddenly many American activists found themselves debating the pros and cons of breaking the law on behalf of animals. Mainstream animal rights groups began to weigh the potential loss of revenue generated by supporting illegal activity and possible loss of public support for animal rights, a belief in itself that was radical to most members of American society, with the ALF scene as the “extremist fringe”. While others quibbled with the blatant questioning of the authority of the U.S’s self serving corporate protecting laws, others had little doubt that what the ALF achieved was having an effect on the animal abuse industry like never before.
Until 1987, the ALF had only engaged in animal liberation activities with destruction of research equipment limited to what could be accomplished in the few minutes during the raids. In one raid of animal research labs at the University of Pennsylvania, videotapes stolen by the ALF of the researchers callousness towards baboons filmed by the researchers themselves, was later used to help shutdown that laboratory.
Other targets of the ALF were effected with research funds being cut-off. But in most cases animals were replaced, security measures at research labs increased, and the experiments continued with a greater realization by vivisectors that some actions in the animal rights movement could not be controlled or predicted. Though ALF liberations meant salvation for the animals rescued, ALF activists questioned whether the animal abuse industries were being affected as much as possible. If the ALF ever intended to put animal abusers out of business for good in America, other tactics would have to be employed. Tactics which struck at the very center of their cold hearts, in their profit margin. Once again a view across the eastern ocean held the answer.
Chapter 4. This is the ALF! — The Youth Take Charge...
In the late April evening of a warm California night ALF warriors jumped a chain-link fence on the campus of the University of California at Davis and changed the face of the animal rights movement in America forever. The next morning a state of the art animal diagnostic research laboratory would be a smoldering ruin, the victim of an arson attack that left no injuries and $3 million in damage. It would be over a year before the lab would recover from the attack and open its doors. Never before had the ALF employed arson in the U.S., while in Britain it was already an accepted tactic. For the first time in the history of the U.S. animal rights movement, an animal research laboratory was destroyed before it even opened. Federal investigators rushed to the scene and suddenly, the animal rights movement became a target of investigation. Animal rights activists unfamiliar with the accomplishment of something in one night that couldn’t be achieved with years of legal activism, were quick to distance themselves from the UC-Davis fire and other ALF type actions and began to condemn the ALF. For many in the animal rights movement, their struggle was about reforming cruel practices, not abolishing the institutions which perpetuated commercial animal exploitation. The UC-Davis fire was the product of much discussion amongst the strategists of the ALF. Would the ALF maintain its Robin Hood persona, whisking animals to freedom with much public support, or would they launch a campaign of economic sabotage intent on costing animal abusers millions in expensive security improvements and increased insurance premiums as well as maximum property destruction. Already the ALF was known to launch small “smash attacks” against fur shops and fast-food eateries. Breaking windows with bricks and slingshots and sloganing with signature blood red spray paint. The decision was a strategic one. Public support was nice, but alone it had rarely saved animals lives. All those letters to Washington DC wastepaper baskets were proof of this. The industries of earth destruction and animal abuse were firmly favored by the U.S. political structure and never would politicians enact and enforce laws that cost them the financial support of big businesses that put them in office. The campaign of maximum destruction, not minimum damage to the equipment of animal abusers had begun, and with it came a new element of the animal rights movement never before seen in the U.S.
Often ALF actions were signed with the trademark “ALF” in red paint, but in Davis, the circle “A”, anarchy symbol was affixed to the “A” of the ALF’s signature. To those who bothered to look beneath the carefully controlled media coverage of ALF actions this was a sign that the ALF was no longer simply just an “animal” group but one that also was opposed to the entire system which perpetuated animal abuse. Press releases following ALF actions after 1987 often drew connections to animal abuse and environmental destruction and human liberation. The anarchistic influence in the ALF also was proof that the ALF saw through the facade of the “first world” to the underlying corruption of the U.S. political process.
The ALF no longer was only opposed to society’s mistreatment of animals, but also the institutions that thrived on human abuse and control, environmental degradation and the impact first world business practices had on members of poverty-stricken indigenous peoples the world over, who provided America with the fat of their land. The lines between animal rights and animal liberation had become clearly drawn. No longer would the ALF only represent the predominantly upper-middle class majority who most represented the animal rights movement. ALF actions began to reflect the frustration and oppression felt by various members of America’s citizens who like the animals were victimized by big business first and everything else last. In less than two months of the UC-Davis fire the Western Wildlife Unit of the ALF was formed to deal specifically with the war on America’s wildlife. Their first action occurred on Memorial Day, 1987 when over 200 wild horses were re-released into their homeland range in Northeastern California where they were being removed to make room for cattle grazing operations. Already in the West livestock comprised over 70% of available grazing land and wild horses meager 2%, yet they were seen as competition with the politically powerful cattlemen’s lobby. In a policy supported by many animal welfare groups, the horses are rounded up and slated for adoption, never again to roam free on America’s landscape as they have for over 400 years. Immediately following the wild horse liberation, the Western Wildlife Unit visited UC-Davis, this time releasing three turkey vultures used in poison studies for the deadly tool of the U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal Damage Control programs; compound 1080, a poison most frequently used to kill small mammals and predators living on lands grazed by livestock. 1987 ended with the rescue of four beagles used in studies of the effects of air pollution from the University of California at Irvine by the ALF. Such research was the epitome of not only our treatment of animals but also our irresponsibility in protecting our environment.
The bridge between animal abuse and environmental destruction was beginning to cross the gap that had previously existed between radical environmentalists and animal liberationists. Apparently it was not a one way effort. In 1988 an Earth First! offshoot claimed responsibility for an attempted firebombing of the California Cattlemens Association offices in Sacramento and the near total destruction of a livestock auction yard in nearby Dixon. In 1988 there were more ALF actions and instances of Earth First! Inspired monkeywrenching than in any previous year recorded in the U.S. The struggle continued with lab raids across the country culminating in the largest raid on an animal research laboratory in the United States. In April, 1989 the ALF simultaneously broke into four separate animal research labs and offices at the University of Arizona in Tucson destroying one laboratory with fire, causing irreparable damage to computer records at animal research offices with fire in a separate administrative office, as well as rescuing 1,200 mice, rats, rabbits, guinea pigs and frogs from vivisection labs on campus. 1989 ended with not only a full-force investigation of animal rights groups by federal authorities, but a sting operation against Earth First! that netted four activists attempting to topple powerlines in the Arizona desert. The sting revealed that one of the monkeywrenchers was actually an FBI agent who had infiltrated the warriors’ circle for two years. In 1990 powerlines were toppled on Earth Day in Watsonville, CA, to dramatize the dependence on coal and oil burning power-plants which fed on indigenous peoples’ lands and contributed to carbon dioxide emissions. This action was later allegedly connected to the Animal Liberation Front. Following the “Earth Night Action Group’s” power outage, Earth First! organizers were the victims of a car-bomb that seriously wounded one of the activists. The FBI was quick to arrest the bombing victims, accusing them of transporting explosives, while no investigation was launched into death threats previously received by the Earth First! organizers, allegedly from individuals within the timber industry. Truly the 1990’s would see a raising of the stakes in defense of Mother Earth and her Animal Nations. As the FBI hunted warriors for the earth and animal liberation, people began to realize that this was a struggle that yet again could end in death or imprisonment for its participants.
Within the ALF, divisions began to develop, not just over arson but about media and euthanasia. Sadly enough, some ALF cells believed in killing healthy animals once rescued, rather than risk finding safe homes for them. Already arguments had erupted in the midst of ALF actions between activists who wanted to dump animals rather than carry them away when alarms were triggered or when homes could not be found. In an ALF raid at the University of Oregon in 1986, eight laboratory rabbits were recovered by vivisectors after having been dumped near a road not far from the labs. It began to be apparent that some ALF activists were more concerned with media coverage and acknowledgement of their actions than the animals’ lives themselves. On Independence Day 1990, the ALF rescued 100 guinea pigs from Simonsen Laboratories in California only to have some activists advocate dumping the animals when homes could not be found. This resulted in a further split, within the ALF as the pro-life ALFers took the guinea pigs and spent many weeks finding them safe homes. Meanwhile the youthful element of the ALF began to be known in the ALF network as “pro-lifers” because of their refusal to kill healthy animals rescued from laboratories and factory farms. These names were being given by ALF activists who regularly euthanised healthy animals rescued from labs while their press releases claimed they had been delivered to safe homes. Most of these media orientated activists also believed that arson was a tactic that cost public support and drew undue police repression. The Western Wildlife Unit, anarchist cells and youth brigades of the ALF argued that police repression was only proof that through illegal direct action, especially arson, the ALF had seriously begun to breed fear amongst animal abusers not to mention inflict more damage to labs, factory farms and other institutions than strictly animal liberation raids ever had. Young voices also came forward and pronounced that if the ALF had begun to justify violence against animals, who could be truly counted on to stop it? For them and us, liberation meant freedom from a certain death at the hands of humans, be them vivisectors, factory farmers, or media-hungry animal rights activists. The responsibility of the animal liberator did not end when the laboratory was destroyed, but when all of its prisoners were guaranteed sanctuary in safe homes or returned to their native habitat.
Chapter 5. Fur Farming in America
As 1990 came to a close, the ALF grew silent as its members struggled with strategic and ethical differences, as well as ever present FBI investigators hounding suspected activists. During this time news began to surface within the animal liberation movement of an investigation of America’s fur farms. In early 1991 videos began to circulate of mink farmers brutally breaking the necks of mink with their bare hands and of bobcats and lynx pacing neurotically in tiny cramped cages four foot square. One organization, the Coalition Against Fur Farms also began circulating confidential research documents detailing taxpayer and fur industry supported vivisection aimed at decreasing the level of diseases and ailments that afflicted still wild animals like mink who were being forced into cages barely ten inches wide on fur farms.
Other research aimed to lower financial overhead to mink farmers by developing cheaper feed sources that would not compromise the quality of the mink pelt, an economic necessity, with the recent decline of fur sales in the U.S. and Europe. Mink pelts in the early 90’s were selling for as low as $22, yet farmers spent as much as $20 per animal before their pelts became marketable. A dangerously thin profit margin. Researchers and fur farmers alike identified diet as the key ingredient that led to genetic mutations that altered a wild mink’s DNA to create the type of animal that fur farmers desired. Without a rigidly controlled diet, mink would return to their genetic wild origins in just two to three generations of uncontrolled breeding.
Other research focused on the side effects of this controlled breeding which in the process of creating a marketable pelt, also created a wild animal suffering from brain disorders and other physiological problems that caused animals to self mutilate themselves and cannibalize their own offspring. Other vivisectors were beginning to recognize mink as ideal models for animal research subjects because they could be housed outdoors cheaply and being predators with high metabolism, were excellent research tools for testing toxic and highly dangerous chemicals that were being dumped in the environment by industrial polluters.
While the fur industry buckled from depleted fur sales, fur farmers looked towards their research and development departments for answers that would keep them away from the edges of bankruptcy. Taxes were already levied on mink pelts at auction houses such as the Seattle Fur Exchange (SFX), earmarked specifically for fur farm research. Under the label of the Mink Farmer’s Research Foundation the fur farm industry would award funds to those researchers who did the most in the field of vivisection to aid the dying fur industry. Of all the recipients of MFRF funding, confidential records obtained by investigators revealed that year after year the number one research and development center for the fur farm industry was the Experimental Fur Animal Research Station of Oregon State University. Founded in the 1920’s as a U.S. Government funded laboratory whose sole purpose was the domestication of mink and foxes for the purpose of fur production, in the 1970’s the station’s ownership was transferred to O.S.U. and the facility became renowned for its aid to beginning fur farmers who experienced problems common to the intensive confinement and artificial feeding of a wild native North American predator.
By the 1980’s the station was seen as the nation’s number one research center for experimentation on behalf of the nation’s 500 plus mink farmers, having abandoned its research into fox farming due to the high cost of raising foxes in intensive confinement. The station funded itself primarily with grants from the MFRF, in addition to expensive feed donations for its research animals from the Northwest Fur Breeders Cooperative in Washington State. The station concluded its research year with the killing of its mink herd whose pelts would then be processed and marketed through the SFX as a means of raising more research revenue. This became vital when Oregon voters axed additional funding that had previously come from the unsuspecting state tax payers. Like any successful industry, research and development vitally serves the fur farm industry’s needs, while on the fur farms themselves mink were being confined in conditions that commonly caused them to chew off their own tails, clip their fur and constantly scratch away at their wire enclosures in a useless attempt at freedom from their ten inch wide cages. This for an animal used to roaming up to ten miles a night and remaining solitary except during breeding and kitraising season. Most mink farms house thousands of animals divided from each other only by thin metal or plastic dividers until they are killed at seven months of age. On fox, bobcat and lynx farms animals are also housed in wire cages suspended off the ground with barely enough room to turn around. Normally sharing a cramped 3 by 4 foot square cage with their off-spring, awaiting the fur farmer who will crush them to death, anally electrocute them, gas them in a plywood box with carbon monoxide from the exhaust of a gasoline engine, shoot them or administer a lethal injection. Many fur farms are in the habitat these animals would normally live their free lives and often a mink, fox, bobcat or lynx can be seen gazing through the wire to the freedom just feet away that will never be theirs. For those of us gathered late at night huddled around a VCR watching fur farm videotapes and the photo copied pages of research papers spread around the floor, we saw something besides the physical suffering these animals go through. We saw in them what we see in ourselves, the wild spirit yearning to be free. The spirit never meant to be broken but which man’s brutal science and agriculture was desperately trying to harness. We saw the fate of all of earth’s creatures who as they are crowded onto the last wild places on earth, must either serve a purpose to mankinds voracious appetite of destruction and greed or disappear forever. To the fur industry, we knew that fur farming was the last stronghold of a centuries old barbaric commercial enterprise in wildlife. But in the early 1990’s many in the animal rights movement were too busy spreading their focus and pursuing public acceptance to concentrate on and finish off, an industry that was slowly regaining its strength. It was time that something was done, many former ALF activists were intimidated or chose early retirement due to fears inspired by rabid FBI/ATF investigations or were too busy pursuing other forms of activism. Luckily others were unwilling to surrender to these fears and felt it was time to resurrect the Western Wildlife Unit of the ALF. The fur farm industry consisted of less than 660 farms and its research base less than ten institutions. The killing season of 1990 would be the last that fur farmers would experience peacefully.
Chapter 6. Operation Bite Back
Into The 90’s With The Alf. Going For The Throat: Oregon State University’s Experimental Fur Farm
In the darkened New Moon of May 1991, we found ourselves on the roof of Oregon State University’s Experimental Fur Animal Research Station. The headlights from passing cars bounced off of the five long barns containing 1,100 mink and the sounds of their scratching and the unforgettable scent of their musk was in the night air. Below, we could just make out the outlined shape of a black-clad woman whose long black hair shielded her face, a radio antenna extending from her hand. Receiving an “all-clear” a warrior lowered themself into the mink barn compound and circled the rows of cages. This was one of many reconnaissance missions whose sole purpose was to familiarize our unit the layout and night activity of the research station.
The target buildings had been located and all that we lacked was an entry point. All doors were avoided as they are the obvious and most common place for alarms. Walking amongst the mink in their cages, it wasn’t long before it was discovered that a few mink were outside their cages, yet still prevented from freedom by a surrounding five foot fence topped with electric wire. As one mink approached, the warrior stood still as she sniffed their scent, then continued on in search of an opening to the nearby creek that flowed past the station. Walking to a gate in the yard and after checking it for alarms, the warrior opened it and stood back. The solitary mink approached slowly and as she crossed the threshold to freedom, bolted in a sprint to the nearby river and disappeared. Shutting the gate the warrior glanced above her to a small window and upon testing it, discovered it wasn’t locked.
Through the windows it became plainly obvious that this was the building that housed the archives of research records from the last 70 years of fur farm research, as well as laboratory equipment for the research performed at the station. The offices of the head researcher, Ron Scott, also adjoined the lab. This would be one of two targets of the first raid on a fur farm research station by the Western Wildlife Unit of the ALF. The other was to be a barn containing all the experimental feed and mixing equipment that stood a safe distance and downwind from where any animals were caged.
Already preliminary investigations had proven that the experimental feeds were the backbone of all research currently in progress on diets for the mink that would ensure optimum pelt quality and yet remain economically feasible. We also knew the already high cost of these feeds was being covered by the Northwest Fur Breeders Cooperative and without this donation the research station would have to cut into its research budget to provide feed for its research animals. Drawing back from the station that night we felt elated, not sad, knowing the next visit would be the last and one the researchers would never forget.
The following days were spent choosing a night for the raid that would offer adequate darkness and minimal activity on the premises and neighboring campus and houses. In late May we received word that state charges against three accused ALF activists of a raid on University of Oregon labs in 1986 were dropped and decided what better way to celebrate this, then with another ALF raid in Oregon.
As the sun lowered itself on the day of June 10, 1991 six ALF warriors found themselves gathered around a campfire on nearby forest lands checking battery power on radios, reviewing hand drawn and topographical maps, and dressing down in bright college attire to hide the dark clothes they wore underneath. A joy that rarely inhabits our ranks was in the air as we readied ourselves for a night that would bring long-awaited justice to the nation’s largest fur farm research station.
Fanny packs were organized with the assorted equipment necessary to each individual member and cash was distributed to each warrior who would be on foot in case of separation, as well as maps with predetermined routes out of the area. Easy retreat plans were reviewed, roles were discussed and each warrior would repeat their responsibilities until everyone was assured that they understood every action that would comprise the raid.
With darkness among us as our greatest friend, we gathered for a last vocal moment and each expressed our reasons for being there that night and spoke of what we hoped to achieve for our mink relations. Never have I seen a finer group of warriors and as we piled into our separate vehicles, it was hard to hide my pride in this handful of people who were about to risk all for our Mother Earth.
Within an hour, lookouts were in place and four warriors on mountain bikes descended into the nearby creeks that led to the station. Without a spoken word, only hand signals, we deployed ourselves to our various positions and hearing no radio warning (silence meant the all-clear) we began the nights work.
While one warrior busied themselves with removing breeding identification cards from the mink cages (to confuse the researchers as there was no other way to identify the animals), two others slipped through the still unlocked bathroom window into the main records building. Research photos, slides and documents were loaded into backpacks along with the vivisector phone books, address books and other material that would reveal supporters and financiers to the stations dirty work. After this, every single file, research paper and archive in the station was spilled onto the floor and every available liquid poured onto them until a water line from the bathroom was broken that would flood the entire floor.
Following this the most expensive laboratory equipment was quietly smashed and test tube samples were dumped down the drain. Veterinary medicines that might come in handy in the future were loaded into a fanny pack and lastly, the red-spray paint came out and the WWU’s calling card and suggested advice to vivisectors left behind, that and the tell tale “ALF”. Exiting the research building the same way we entered, our forces began their withdrawal as the demolitions warrior and one watch person stayed behind.
With a one-hour delay incendiary device the “demo” entered the experimental feed barn after the official ALF key (boltcutters) was used to obtain entry. Placing the device near the structural center of the building, the warrior then piled wooden fur farm equipment around the device, set it, and fled. Within minutes all team members regrouped carrying plastic trash bags in their fanny packs containing all tools and evidence of our presence. In a few more minutes with mountain bikes loaded and all confiscated research documents and photos in a safe car, we drove the speed limit across county lines to the nearby interstate where all clothes worn during the action were distributed in various dumpsters. Shoes worn during the action also were thrown away and all tools although new were deposited in the nearest river. At about this same time a fire erupted in the experimental feed barn and demolished the feed supply and all equipment in the barn, as well as the barn itself. Over 1,100 mink watched from their cages as the fur farm researchers arrived to survey the damage. Within minutes T.V. cameras were on the scene as federal and local authorities waded through 70 years of fur farm research, down the drain.
Morale among the Northwest’s fur farmers was at an all time low as they now wrestled with the uncomfortable fact that not only had virtually every research project at O.S.U.’s fur Animal Research Station been destroyed, but also every name and number of theirs was now in the hands of the ALF. Genetic logbooks for the research mink were also missing along with vital research records necessary for the continuation of research.
The blow was too much for the tight budgeted research lab to endure. When 1991 ended and O.S.U.’s mink herd was killed, O.S.U.’s animal research department decided to cut funds to the fur farm and within six months the Oregon State University Experimental Fur Animal Research Station closed its doors forever. In its first stage, Operation Bite Back had shutdown the nations largest Fur Farm research facility.
Biting the Hand That Feeds You: Northwest Furbreeders Cooperative
Before the dust could settle on the still smoldering ruins of O.S.U.’s research station, a small WWU-ALF war party was dispatched to Edmonds, Washington, home of the Northwest Fur-Breeders Cooperative. NW Co-op provided annual support to O.S.U.’s research station, not out of the goodness of its cold heart, but because its members represented the majority of fur farmers in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Montana, who served to benefit from O.S.U.’s research.
Located on the docks of Edmonds, the NW Co-Op serves as a feed manufacturer, processing tons of factory-farm and fish by-products into the food that will keep Northwest fur farms operational. Operating as a hub, the NW Co-Op sends out diesel tractor-trailers weekly to its member fur farmers, distributing feed, nesting materials and other equipment to the fur farm industry.
On the night of June 15th, four warriors stood above the docks of Edmonds watching the 11 o’clock p.m. shift end its business for the night at the co-op from a nearby hillside. In each one of the warriors’ nightpacks (to others known as daypacks) were radios with microphone and earphone extensions extending out to the raiders’ shoulders much like bike cops in nearby Seattle. Once again, the trusted mountain bike war ponies were used and if anyone saw them that night, they would remember four warriors riding down from the hills above Edmonds to the docks where the four riders broke into separate directions to establish look out points at all road entry ways. One of the warriors carried a police scanner and through previous reconnaissance, had already become familiar with the “normal” radio traffic and was familiar with codes used by the police.
Two warriors went on foot, casually walking along the docks like two starstruck lovers, holding hands and stopping intermittently to survey the scene that lay before them. When they passed into the shadows behind the NW Co-Op, the two warriors quickly darted behind two tractor trailers whose refrigeration units buzzed loudly over the surrounding sounds of the docks. The smell of fish entrails permeated the air and the warriors quickly donned their dark disposable coveralls they could use to crawl through the mess.
Locating an access window for feed products to enter through, they crawled into it, carefully lifting their nightpacks into the building. With continued radio silence signalling the all-clear, the two warriors quickly surveyed the empty building to ensure that no late night employees or watchman remained. Upon confirmation of an empty building, the two warriors entered the warehouse portion of the building where dry feed and nesting materials were stacked to the ceiling on wooden forklift pallets. Opening a ceiling vent to allow a little air circulation to fuel the fire, one warrior set to work assembling the incendiary device while the other left the ALF calling card accompanied with a mink paw encircled within the female symbol for the mink mothers at O.S.U., whose young the ALF were unable to rescue.
A security patrol circled the building, but the warriors knew as long as everything appeared normal, there would be no reason for the guard to stop and investigate. Once the incendiary device was set and the patrol truck had passed, the two warriors exited quickly and quietly, stripping off their coveralls and continuing their stroll through the harbor back to their mountain bikes and the friendly dark night.
Within 90 minutes firefighters were responding to the four alarm blaze that injured no one, but effectively destroyed 75% of the NW fur breeders warehouse causing an estimated $750,000 in damages. Phase two of Operation Bite Back was complete.
Following the O.S.U. and NW furbreeders raids the fur farm industry went ballistic. A $35,000 reward was offered for the capture and conviction of ALF warriors, and fur farmers had announced in the media that they were now arming themselves against further attacks.
The fur farm industry mouthpiece, the Fur Farm Animal Welfare Coalition held a press conference in Seattle asking animal rights groups to denounce the ALF. Granted, none publicly did at this time, but neither did one ever come forward to support the ALF except the small grassroots group Coalition Against Fur Farms who distributed press releases and attempted to organize mainstream follow-up campaigns to continue the pressure on fur farm research stations. And so the summer of ‘91 began with the Western Wildlife Unit back in action. Training continued, and confiscated research papers and fur farm trade journals were reviewed to determine the next link in fur farm animal abuse that could be broken. ALF moles followed up on leads of other potential targets, and searched veterinary medicine files for possible future actions.
In July, a newspaper article arrived from CAFF from Spokane, Washington describing the impact the ALF was causing on Washington State University’s fur animal research. At this same time confiscated documents from O.S.U. revealed how research programs of W.S.U. vivisector John Gorham were groundbreaking in searching for a remedy to diseases suffered by mink on fur farms due to their intensive confinement. Within days ALF warriors were on their way to W.S.U., in Pullman, Washington.
The Night of Stars Falling: Washington State University
As Animal Liberation Front moles busied themselves in researching all they could about the research of John Gorham, the foot soldiers began reconnaissance missions on the Washington State University campus that spread out across the rolling hills surrounding Pullman, Washington. Like most of southeastern Washington the Pullman area is grass covered plains devoid of trees having been mostly deforested by the timber industry. We already knew the location of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Experimental Fur Farm at W.S.U. was hidden from the public, but how difficult could it be to find unmistakable mink barns? Our first step was the now tried and true tactic of riding mountain bikes like casual bicyclists on every road, trail and path that crisscrossed the W.S.U. campus. Checking outlying buildings and keeping our noses to the wind for the easily recognizable scent of mink musk.
Meanwhile, the moles had discovered that W.S.U. is a nerve center of animal research on native American wildlife. Grizzly and black bears, mule deer, elk and bighorn sheep were just a few of the animals we soon discovered wallowing in the misery of concrete pens and corrals. Serving as a prostitute to the livestock industry, W.S.U. vivisectors were busying themselves in studying bacterial and competitive grazing threats native wildlife posed to cattle and sheep grazed on public lands. Never before had the ALF discovered vivisection on America’s wildlife outside of O.S.U.’s mink farm and now our strategist and logistics experts were discussing ways to transport these larger animals. Unfortunately, our resources and warrior shortages would prohibit us spiriting away bears or deer this time... Our focus remained the mink.
The newspaper article we had received had also discussed a furbearer research facility also on campus, where vivisector Fred Gilbert tested underwater traps on beavers. His lab also housed wolverine, fishers, badgers, and martens. We would also attempt to locate Gilbert’s laboratory and liberate the wildlife prisoners there. Gilbert’s research was funded by the Canadian fur industry. John Gorham’s research was not only funded by the Mink Farmers Research Foundation, but also by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Gorham targeted Aluetian Disease, Encephalopathy (known in cattle as Mad Cow Disease) and other diseases that could economically wipe out a fur farmer should mink become affected. To conduct his research, Gorham would grind up infected mink brains and force-feed them to healthy mink until they contracted the chosen disease. Animals in his laboratory often died slow deaths as the paralysis of their disease slowly developed in their bodies, causing nervous disorders and hemorrhaging. Fur farmers across the world had identified John Gorham as “one of the worlds leading researchers in fur farm diseases”, according to an article in Fur Rancher Magazine, in 1991. After locating the fur farm on W.S.U.’s campus, hidden in plain sight off a road to the local airport, a nighttime recon was planned. In the early evening of a full moon before the lunar rising, two warriors hiked to the fur farm where they scaled a chain-link fence topped with barbed-wire to reach the mink barns. The perimeter was walked until it was determined that no infra-red or motion detector alarms surrounded the facility. Being a federally funded research station, we expected as much. There wasn’t any electronic security.
The warriors surveyed the area and quickly located the control group mink who had not been infected with any disease. Once the layout of the facility became familiar and no premise watchmen or watchdogs were located, the warriors pulled back to the chain-link fence. From a distance a car could be heard approaching so the two warriors quickly climbed the fence when one warrior was snagged by barbed-wire. As the headlights, of the oncoming car became visible, the trapped warrior wrestled with their pant leg, finally freeing themselves and jumping from the fence and sprinting across the road to cover just as the car approached and passed. It was a police car.
As the two warriors walked in the pre-moon darkness, they noticed the headlight beams of the police car had made a 360 turn and then went out. As the two warriors walked the shoulder of the road they became suspicious. Pulling out a pair of binoculars the warriors sighted in the distance the outline of a car parked on the shoulder of the road with its lights off, on a crashcourse with the warriors. Quickly the two darted into the surrounding bare hillside, just as another police cruiser came speeding from the opposite direction on the same road. The first police cruiser gunned its engine and turned on its headlights in an attempt to sandwich in the two warriors. As the warriors scrambled into the knee-high grass the two police cars came together at the fur farm and began to shine spotlights into the facility, then the surrounding hillsides. This fur farm research facility was obviously expecting a visit from the ALF.
As the two warriors lay on their bellies in the sparse hills surrounding the fur farm, the moon rose clear and bright, illuminating the whole area. One police cruiser inched with its lights off just feet past the two hiding warriors and parked on a ridge overlooking the entire fur farm compound. As the warriors remained motionless, coyotes began to howl as the moon lifted itself into the sky. Something sounded out of place, as most of the coyote cries were concentrated, and coming from the direction of a small building above the fur farm. Still other coyotes could be heard howling from the distant hills. It became plainly evident that in one of the buildings above the fur farm coyotes were held captive. With little to do but wait it out, the two warriors cursed themselves for being trapped under the moon’s bright light. Finally the police cruiser gave up the hunt and drove away and the warriors hiked the long way back to their hidden mountain bikes. The element for a surprise attack was gone. Not only had Washington State University’s animal researchers had the O.S.U. and NW furbreeders raid as a warning, but now university police had spotted trespassers near the hidden fur farm. Within days, security was increased and when Fred Gilbert’s lab was finally located nestled in a grove of pine trees, an infra-red perimeter security system was seen in place. The beaver sheds were clearly visible just beyond it.
Despite the increased security, cautious reconnaissance continued and soon a kennel was located on a hill containing 12 coyotes, the subjects of sarcocystis research. Sarcocystis is a disease that is not fatal to coyotes or sheep, the disease passes through a coyote’s system in a few short weeks, while the parasites contain themselves within sheep, destroying the economic value of their meat and wool. Coyotes commonly spread the parasite in their feces where it is transmitted to sheep who are grazed on public lands in coyote country. The coyotes for these experiments were conveniently provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal Damage Control Program. Survivors of aerial gunning and gassed out dens where their families perished.
A strategy session was called to discuss the future of any actions at W.S.U.’s fur research stations and it was decided that in order for any successful attack, warriors with various degrees of experience would be needed. By mid-August, seven ALF warriors confirmed their willingness to risk an attack on the already on-guard fur animal research departments of W.S.U. Moles informed the Operation Bite Back team that John Gorham had been chosen as the U.S.D.A.’s “Researcher of the Year” for 1991, and would be out of town the week of August 21st to receive his award. It was time to act. The raid would be a threepronged attack. One team would enter the Veterinary Building on W.S.U.’s downtown Pullman campus where Gorham’s office was located, another would strike the fur farm and a third would release the coyotes from their hill top kennel.
In a motel room miles from Pullman, ALF warriors gathered around maps while others scanned local police frequencies. Except for the designated drivers, the remaining warriors divided heavy gloves to the mink handlers, forced entry tools to the Veterinary Building team and boltcutters and red spraypaint to the coyote liberators. A medium of communication was agreed upon for necessary radio transmissions and pick up-points and times were finalized. Already all the team members had been driven through the area pointing out spots near the road where warriors would be dropped off and animals picked up. This time there would be no full moon, but there would be meteor showers according to weather forecasters. When the final emergency contingency plan was understood should the police become aware of our raid, the warriors drove away in the direction to Washington State University.
The first team arrived at the Veterinary Building just as a late night student exited the bottom level. One warrior moved to a lookout position while another located a door latch that had earlier been tampered with so that all that was needed was an aggressive pull to detach the lockplate that held the pin of the door lock. Climbing the stairwell to the 3rd floor level where Gorham’s office was located, ALF warriors entered the lit hallway and removed a ceiling tile in the hallway outside Gorham’s office. In the ceiling crawl space only thin sheetrock separated the hallway from Gorham’s office on the other side of the wall partition. With a small key-hole saw, a hole was punched through and ALF warriors were in “one of the world’s leading fur farm researchers” office.
Computer discs, photo slides and address books were removed and a brand new computer for Johnny Boy lay still in the box beside his desk. Lifting the computer over her head a warrior smashed it to the ground and proceeded to do the same to every piece of research and computer equipment in the room, the ALF version of therapy. Meanwhile another warrior dumped every file of Gorham’s on the floor until the pile was over a foot thick across the office. As a final touch two gallons of muriatic acid was poured over the complete mess until fumes forced the warriors out of the office. As the warriors exited down the hallway, they passed a gurney with a plexiglass box filled with white mice with a label reading “irradiated 8/21/91” grabbing the box under one arm the warriors fled the building, completing phase one of the attack on W.S.U. At about the same time as the Veterinary Building was being entered, four ALF warriors were dropped off out of sight of the mink barns and coyote kennels. Splitting into two groups, one approached the mink barns, the other the coyote kennels. At the mink barns a watchman was now living on the premises, but would go to sleep after an 11 p.m. check on the mink barns.
Approaching the watchman’s window, an ALF warrior peered in to hear the sweet sound of loud snoring. Returning to the mink barns, the official ALF key was used to cut the small padlock on the barn door and two warriors entered the control animal barn with a wire cage with six separate compartments. One by one mink were coaxed into the cage until it was full.
Leaving the barn one raider replaced the cut lock with a similar duplicate in case the watchman decided to conduct a visual inspection later that night he would see nothing out of place. Each warrior carrying one handle of the mink cage, the two figures disappeared into the darkness. Back on the hilltop coyote kennel, one warrior busied themselves clearing low fencing surrounding the kennel with boltcutters to provide an escape from the area for the coyotes, while the other cut the lock leading to the kennel and entered. Moving down the cages the coyotes became anxious as they anticipated this late night visit as a friendly one. The coyotes had been visited regularly by the ALF so were accustomed to the strangers with covered faces. One by one, cage doors were opened and coyotes leapt out towards the door of the kennel.
While most of the coyotes fled the area immediately, others could be heard in the distance, howling from the dark shadows of the wild as we had heard them before. Meanwhile, one coyote hung back attempting to sneak past the liberator to the last cage. The warrior then noticed the last caged coyote to be a young female who eyed the hesitant coyote with anticipation. As the liberator swung open the last cage, the two coyotes bolted off together into the darkness as stars shot across the sky in a magical brilliance. Tears soaked the liberator’s face mask as they realized the love these last two coyotes had for one another, so strong that one refused to leave this hell until the other was also free. As coyote shapes disappeared across the plains, the masked coyote warriors took a spraypaint can and painted in large letters across the back of the now empty coyote kennel: “AMERICAN WILDLIFE, LOVE IT OR LEAVE IT ALONE — freedom for fur animals now!!!”
As the sun rose the following day, the evidence of the raid was quickly discovered by veterinary students who normally fed the now-free coyotes. As the authorities were alerted both vivisectors and W.S.U. administrators were furious that they had had the wool pulled over their eyes by the cagey ALF. Fur animal researchers attempted to deny that research projects were funded by the fur industry, only to be dispelled by ALF released documents stating the contrary. Though Fred Gilbert’s laboratory escaped the attack, his experiments did not. A Seattle T.V. station had filed a legal action against Gilbert and Washington State University for the release of his videotaped underwater trap experiments on beavers. Citing that the videotapes were the property of the funder, the Fur Institute of Canada, Gilbert refused to release the tapes, while Washington residents were shocked that their university was being used to benefit the Canadian fur industry. Within a year Fred Gilbert quit his post as the head of the Fur Bearer Research Facility and retreated to a British Columbia University to continue his work, out of the U.S. For Gorham, his selection as Researcher of the Year was tarnished by the destruction of his ongoing research which was rendered useless by stolen computer records and acid-damaged files, slides and records. Gorham attempted to distance himself from fur farm research only to later be featured on the cover of Fur Rancher Magazine in late 1991 as an honored guest on tour of Russian fur farms overseas. While the fur farm industry mourned the loss of the second largest recipient of Mink Farmer Research Foundation funded research, six mink began their new lives on the banks of the Lochsa River on the nearby Nez Perce Reservation. As summer turned to fall, a coyote family began its preparations for the coming winter, their tattooed ears covered over by thickening fur, never would they forget the Night of Stars Falling and their human relations who freed them.
Down on the Farm...: Malecky Mink Ranch
By September of 1991 U.S. fur farm and Federal law enforcement forces began to anticipate an all out war by the ALF. Photographs of known fur farm activists were being circulated among fur farmers and caution was being exercised when hiring farm help. The ‘91 pelting season was drawing near and with it the anxiety among fur farmers that they would be the next target of the ALF. Fears were justified, when in the end of September an unsuccessful attempt was made to burn down the Utah Fur Breeders Cooperative in Sandy, Utah where feeds for the state with the largest amount of fur farms were produced. The rural cooperative also housed a mink farm on its premises which was also used for experimentation in fur farm research.
Not to be discouraged, the ALF activists returned to the northwest where once again vigilant security forces almost discovered ALF raiders on their farms and the fur farmers were poised to attack. The war party then traveled to a mink farm outside of Olympia, Washington where a four-person party was deployed on the perimeter of the mink farms guard fence surrounding the mink barns. While others stood watch, one warrior began surveying the farm searching out the breeder mink, the most valuable part of the herd. Crouched in the darkness the warrior watched as another human form approached casually with a flashlight in hand. Thinking the approaching human to be one of the other members of the war party, the lone warrior remained crouched in the open while the human form approached. When the figure retreated before seeing the warrior, the ALF warrior returned to the waiting party. “Whats up?”, “Nothing, why?” “Wasn’t that you that just came near me?” “We’ve been right here.” There was a watchman patrolling the barns. In a slow retreat the raiders were forced to abandon their attack, once again escaping confrontation with fur farmers.
At this time, an ALF mole alerted the Operation Bite Back team to a fur farm up for sale near Salem, Oregon just down the road from O.S.U. The fur farmer, Hynek Malecky, was interested in not just selling his mink operation, but maintaining a partnership in a joint venture. Benefiting directly from O.S.U’s research, Malecky had developed a state-of-theart mink operation and now with the declining market in mink pelts, he needed additional financing to keep his business alive. No bank would dare loan a fur farmer money not only because of the instability of the fur market, but also because of the recent attacks by the ALF. Malecky Mink Farm was only one of many fur farms teetering on the edge of bankruptcy. The Western Wildlife Unit of the ALF decided to give it a little push.
In early December, long cold rainy nights of reconnaissance had revealed almost no security on the mink farm surrounded by adjoining ranches. What was difficult was approaching the fur farm through the patchwork of private residences that surrounded it. It was decided that a three-person team would be adequate on this action. One driver and two mountain bike riding warriors launched the attack. On December 10th on a still evening the ALF driver dropped off two warriors and their trusty steeds on the narrow country road leading towards Malecky Mink Farm. Donning dark blue raingear and hooded sweaters the two warriors swooped towards their target, their small nightpacks on their backs carrying the tools necessary to carry out the action.
One warrior monitored an open radio channel with the ALF driver who sat in their truck a few miles away monitoring the police scanner. The local Radio Shack had provided radio frequencies for law enforcement in the area as they normally do for scanner-buffs. The “demo” warrior remained radioless so that she could keep her senses attuned to every sound around her, with her long black hair braided behind her neck to prevent loose hairs from not only snagging on fences, but also to insure no DNA traceable clues would be left behind.
With the radio-warrior in place within sight of both the Malecky home and the target building and the advancing demo warrior, the two exchanged a thumbs-up in the darkness and the demo warrior disappeared into the pelt processing and feed mixing building which served as the heart of the operation. Separate from the mink barns, the nerve center of the operation housed feed mixing equipment, refrigeration units, drying drums for the mink pelts, skinning racks and the assorted supplies necessary to keep a mink farm operational. Standing in the darkened processing building the warrior imagined the farm in full operation, the mobile gas chambers unloading still quivering mink to the waiting skinners, the smells of musk while the pelts are stripped from the minks warm bodies like banana peels. Returning to the present the warrior was glad that would be a scene never experienced again at Malecky Mink Ranch.
First locating the structural center of the building, the warrior then identified it to be of wooden framework. Gathering mink nesting boxes, pelt-stretching boards and other flammable available materials, the warrior built a pyramid of combustible materials and then placed the one-hour kitchen-timer delayed incendiary device beneath the whole mess. Setting a series of flammable liquids in open plastic containers surrounding the device the warrior twisted the dial on the timer, connected the nine-volt battery and slowly fled the building mentally noting on her watch when the device should trigger. By the time the warriors rendezvoused with their pick-up driver, there were still 36 minutes left before the device ignited. Thirty-two minutes later the device ignited and before fire trucks could reach the scene the heart of Malecky Mink Farm lay in ruins. One fur farm down, 600 to go. The action was clean and smooth and by the time Federal investigators arrived on the scene, the only evidence they found was a burned down fur farm. Not even the telltale “ALF” was spray painted anywhere. The warriors had decided that to do so would only leave evidence that might narrow the scope of suspects. Spray painting would only help law enforcement to conclude that the fire was arson and not accidental or an insurance scam. This action which took place after the pelting season insured that there was not only a minimal risk of harming animals on the farm since most had already been killed, but also cost the fur farmer expensive pelts which were still in the processing building.
The Michigan Mink Militia: Michigan State University
Before 1991 came to an end an attempt was made to destroy the pelt processing operation of Huggan’s Rocky Mountain Fur Company outside of Hamilton, Montana. The fur company, which also operated its own mink and fox farm, processes pelts for most mink farms in Western Montana. Montana is also home to many of the U.S.’s lynx and bobcat farms, with Fraser Fur Farm in Ronan, Montana boasting the largest wildcat fur farm in the country. As the 1991 pelting season came to a close, after being on the alert since the June ALF attacks, many fur farmers breathed a sigh of relief hoping the brunt of Operation Bite Back was over. Nothing could be further from the truth. In January of 1992, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals ran a series of radio announcements in western Michigan drawing attention to Michigan State University’s animal experiments by Richard Aulerich whose primary laboratory animal “models” were mink. Unbeknownst to PETA, Richard Aulerich was also the second largest recipient of annual grants by the Mink Farmers Research Foundation and had for the past 32 years provided vital research developments to the U.S. mink industry.
Any discussion of mink farm disease research never omitted Aulerich from the conversation. ALF moles repeatedly found his research developments cited in correspondence seized from O.S.U. and W.S.U. Through his service to the U.S. Government and the mink industry, Aulerich had been awarded federal grants to also use his mink farm for toxic experiments involving the forcefeeding of PCP’s, dioxins and other industrial pollutants to captive mink. Published research records detailed how poisoned mink died violent deaths in Aulerich’s laboratory suffering severe internal hemorrhaging before vomiting blood and finally dying after being fed only feeds laced with contaminants, in the infamous Lethal Dose 50% (LD50) test.
Students at M.S.U. had informed ALF moles that a 39-mile stretch of the lower Fox River which feeds Lake Michigan, is home to the largest concentration of paper mills in the world. Despite PCP productions having been banned almost 20 years ago, these pollutants still remain from early discharges in the mud and sediment along the river and lake causing high levels of PCP in fish and other wildlife. Another area situated at the mouth of the Grand Calumet River at the southern end of Lake Michigan, has the largest accumulation of industry contaminated sediments in the Great Lakes. Students were frustrated that despite all dioxin in the Great Lakes being traced to less than 200 factory stacks and all PCP traceable to five industries, the only remedies were to entrust these corporations to voluntarily clean up, or continue animal testing of the contaminants to determine its danger. A 1990 “study” showed 100% mortality among test animals exposed to sediment samples from the Grand Calumet River. Rather than study contamination in wild mink and otters in the Great Lakes region, Aulerich chose to cause further suffering by using mink and otters from his fur farm in experiments. ALF moles had also been given information by students about Aulerich making keychains for his students out of the severed paws of vivisected mink. One of Aulerich’s research associates was Karen Chou who herself conducted toxicology experiments in rabbits, rats and mice for chemical manufacturers, industrial polluters and the U.S. Government.
To the American mink industry, Richard Aulerich represented the last hope for the conquering of diseases commonly found on fur farms. O.S.U.’s Experimental Research Station was out of the game, and John Gorham’s research was in tatters. The Fur Animal Research Station at Michigan State University was on alert against attacks by the ALF following the raids in Oregon and Washington. When PETA radio spots fingered Aulerich, M.S.U. increased its already strengthened security. In the midst of fur farmer and research hysteria, a council of ALF warriors was formed on behalf of the Lake Michigan Ecosystem to stop the suffering to mink at the hands of Aulerich and to draw attention to the real threat: industrial polluters.
As a light rain fell in the February night on the mink barns at M.S.U. three figures lay crouched low to the earth in woodland camouflage. As cars rumbled by on a nearby highway, the warriors cut through chain link fences and entered the perimeter of the Experimental Fur Farm. At this same time another ALF cell from the newly formed Great Lakes Unit was walking towards Anthony Hall on the Michigan State University campus like three college students returning home from a late nite drinking session. One of the warriors had an earphone beneath his hooded sweatshirt that kept the team in contact with a lookout parked in a car nearby monitoring a police scanner. With no signal, the three activists cut across the lawn in front of the building and dropped into a storm drain depression below a bottom story window. The latch on the window was ajar and with a long thin strip of metal a warrior slid the latch open and opened the window and two warriors slipped into the building landing on the desk of an M.S.U. researcher. Closing the window behind them, the third warrior removed his bright college sweater and replaced it with a black hooded rain jacket and kept watch.
Inside the building the other two warriors walked the lit hallway to a stairway and up one level to the office of Richard Aulerich. During early daytime reconnaissance in the building, the warriors had viewed the open office door, not noticing any type of entry way alarm system in place. While one warrior stood watch against late night students in the building, the other broke through three wooden vent slats on the door and reached through and opened the door and ducked in. Aulerich and Chou’s office lay before them with a receptionist area, complete with a glass case filled with mink pelts for display. Opening all the file drawers in every office and dumping their contents on the floor, the warrior removed his pack and opened a tupperware container that contained a one-hour time delay incendiary device cushioned with toilet paper. Suddenly, flashing red and blue lights could be seen through the windows. The warrior knew if it was cause for alarm, he would have been alerted by one of their two lookouts. Continuing in his task, the warrior filled his nightpack with computer discs, color slides and selected research documents describing grants for continued vivisection. In a few short minutes the patrol car drove away as did the motorist he had pulled over, and the warrior set the incendiary device and gathering his lookout, returned to the basement level office.
Before the warriors exited the window they glanced at the office of the researcher they had entered in through. The nameplate outside the door had said “dairy research”. The warriors, both Vegans, looked at each other then slid all the computers and office equipment on his desk onto the floor with a crash. Then the two rolled out the window into the storm drain and with a quick clothing adjustment returned on their path walking off campus. The pick-up driver pulled up to them a short distance away and in minutes they were safely off campus.
Back at the fur farm neighboring the poultry research farm, one warrior stationed himself with a clear view of all incoming roads and the occupied quarters of the sleeping caretaker. One warrior ascended the roof of the field laboratory and removed a portion of sheet metal roofing and dropped into the lab through the ceiling. Without any exposed windows to the outdoors, two warriors switched on headlamps tinted red to preserve their night vision and began to remove hinges on a door leading into a laboratory. Upon entering, one warrior began to quietly destroy all the research equipment, while the other searched files and research records. Muriatic acid was poured over feed mixing machinery for the experimental mink farm as well as over all the research equipment and documents that were in the offices. In a freezer the warriors found the severed heads of over 30 otters wrapped in aluminum foil. When the laboratory feed mixing room and a research office were wrecked, spray-painted messages were left for Aulerich and other researchers, including “WE WILL BE BACK FOR THE OTTERS”, meaning Alice, the sole surviving experimental otter prisoner who watched attentively as ALF warriors raided the fur farm. Exiting the lab through the ceiling, the two warriors entered the perimeter of the mink farm itself and began to remove every identification card from the mink cages, first locating two minks slated for contamination, yet still healthy. Borrowing two nestboxes the mink were loaded into the boxes separately for their journey to freedom. The close busy highway prohibited the liberators from opening all the cages and releasing all the mink. Night began to give way to dawn’s early light. The hardest part was leaving behind the hundreds of other mink as well as ferrets and otters that we knew would soon be poisoned. Hours later on the shores of a remote lake the two liberated mink were given their last meal by human hands, a roadkilled rabbit and protein rich wet catfood before being released into their native habitat where they quickly disappeared into the lakes underbrush. Back on the M.S.U. campus, within the hour, a fire erupted in Anthony Hall that totally destroyed 32 years of fur animal research by Richard Aulerich and over ten years of unpublished research by Karen Chou. With this final attack, all major recipients of Mink Farmer Research Foundation funding were effectively neutralized leaving the U.S. fur farm industry struggling more than ever to survive. Never before had the ALF successfully eliminated the research and development arm of an animal and earth abuse industry as it did with the MFRF. As the ALF earned its title, of an effective threat to animal and earth abuse industry research, warriors from across the nation began to feel the oncoming wave of federal police repression as joint law enforcement task forces accelerated their hunt for the ALF renegades.
Chapter 7. The Hunt for the Warriors of the ALF
It was a bright and cool spring morning in the Little Applegate River Valley of Southern Oregon in April ‘92 when they arrived. Flying below the ridgeline the helicopter came into view just as four sedans with government plates curved the graveled dirt road. As the helicopter landed in a clearing, four ATF agents exited and ran towards the door of a nearby cabin surprising its lone occupant, a woman in her late 40s. In the cars were more ATF agents who secured the road. Demanding answers the ATF agents searched the woman’s house and investigated the premises. When the agents told the startled woman they were looking for Rod Coronado she interceded and told them they had the wrong cabin, Coronado lived across the river in a separate cabin hidden in the trees. Rushing to the far side of the river the agents found the cabin which was completely empty, a single hawk feather left dangling from the doorway.
Just 15 miles from Ashland, the former headquarters of the Coalition Against Fur Farms (CAFF) was the first target of FBI and ATF harassment. Following the raid at W.S.U., CAFF, spokesperson Rod Coronado began to speak out against the horrors of fur farming after having completed an 11 month undercover investigation that culminated in the rescue, rehabilitation and release of 60 mink, four bobcats and two Canadian lynx from a Montana fur farm. Unfortunately for Coronado and fortunately for the police, Coronado was the only activist to go on camera in support of Operation Bite Back.
Already Coronado’s parents had been harassed since fall 1991, being asked questions about Coronado’s whereabouts and whether he was organizing illegal activities from his parents home. Meanwhile FBI agents had served a search warrant on the residence of a former PETA employee in Maryland, carting away boxes of papers, maps, electronic equipment and other evidence the FBI claimed detailed ALF planned raids and press materials.
A week before the search warrant was executed, a Federal Express employee pulled a package that was labeled with an expired account number and upon investigation discovered the senders address was fake. The package was addressed to the former PETA employee. Inside the package was a videotape documenting the liberation of two mink from M.S.U.’s experimental fur farm and footage of the severed otter heads found in the laboratory. The package also contained stolen records, slides and computer discs from Richard Aulerich’s office. When the FBI raided the receiver’s house, they claimed to have discovered one of the ALF’s safe houses and found infra-red night-vision goggles and aborted plans to liberate the remaining Silver Springs Monkeys who PETA had fought to win the legal release of for over ten years.
In the FBI’s search warrant there was described a list of incendiary device materials that had been found at O.S.U. and M.S.U. The FBI also claimed that Coronado was responsible for the ALF attack on W.S.U. in the search warrant. Back in September of ‘91 a composite sketch of two suspected ALF members began to circulate after the two were seen in and near Pullman, Washington before the ALF raid. Attached to the composite sketches was a $35,000 reward for the capture and conviction the those responsible for the O.S.U., N.W. Furbreeders and W.S.U. raids. Federal Grand Juries in Oregon, Washington and Michigan had convened to gather evidence to hopefully issue indictments against ALF members.
PETA employees who had handled press materials related to the M.S.U. raid were subpoenaed as were PETA employee records and photos. The investigative reporter who had interviewed Coronado about Operation Bite Back was also subpoenaed. When Coronado heard the FBI wanted to question him he decided it was time to take a break from his anti-fur farm work, not wanting to engage in a lengthy and costly legal battle.
At about this same time in late Spring ‘92 other volunteers from CAFF began being harassed by FBI and ATF agents. Next a storage unit belonging to Coronado in Ashland was raided by the ATF where agents claimed to find evidence connecting Coronado to the ALF raids in Oregon, and Washington and attempts in Montana.
Using Coronado’s own writings in support of Operation Bite Back as well as threads of physical evidence, a case began to be built around Coronado while the inter-agency task force assigned to squash the ALF continued its search for other ALF members. FBI records on Coronado had him involved with illegal direct action since 1986 when he and another man sank two Icelandic whaling ships and demolished a whale processing plant. Since then Coronado had also been arrested in Canada for destruction of fur shop property. Jumping bail, Coronado fled the country in 1987 and returned to the U.S. where the ALF was most active, in California.
Other activists from the California animal rights scene were soon subpoenaed, one of them being Jonathan Paul, a known associate of Coronado’s and also one of three men who were indicted in Oregon in 1990 on charges relating to the ALF raid on the University of Oregon in 1986. Jonathan Paul was also suspect in numerous ALF actions in California as well as the toppling of powerlines on Earth Day 1990. Paul also was a partner in the fur farm investigation that helped lead to Operation Bite Back. Exerting pressure on Paul to testify at the Washington State Grand Jury, the U.S. Government hoped to gather information that would lead to the indictment of other suspected ALF warriors. When Paul pled the Fifth Amendment and refused to testify, he was granted immunity from prosecution and when he still refused to testify he was imprisoned on contempt of court charges, the Judge believing that imprisonment would coerce Paul to testify. He was wrong. Paul sat in jail tight lipped for six months before his imprisonment was deemed to be punishment rather than coercion and he was released. By the time Paul was released, the FBI had already shifted its focus onto Rik Scarce, the author of the book “Eco-Warriors” which contained interviews with both Coronado and ALF members. Scarce was also a student teacher at W.S.U. and had befriended Coronado who sometimes visited his Pullman home. Scarce’s fiance was also subpoenaed to the Grand Jury where she answered questions about Coronado and other CAFF volunteers.
Shortly after the ATF raid on CAFF’s Oregon cabin headquarters, U.S. Custom agents, FBI and ATF agents again attempted to capture Coronado. In the Santa Cruz harbor in California, the marine-mammal protection ship Sea Shepherd was preparing to depart on a campaign against Japanese driftnet fishing when it was ordered to stop engines by U.S. Customs in a heavy rainstorm. ATF, FBI and U.S. Customs agents searched the vessel to no avail. The ship would be searched again in British Columbia by Canadian authorities assisting U.S. authorities in their own search for ALF fugitives. Coronado, a frequent volunteer with Sea Shepherd, had been seen on the Sea Shepherd before it left Los Angeles on its way to Santa Cruz. Later the office manager of Sea Shepherd’s Marina Del Rey office would be repeatedly harassed and subpoenaed because of her suspected connections with Coronado. She had purchased his car from him while still in L.A.
Acting on information seized in the Maryland house of the former PETA employee, in the summer of ‘92 a Grand Jury was convened in Louisiana to investigate the leads on the aborted plans to raid the Delta Regional Primate Facility of Tulane University. By the end of 1992 over 30 activists had been subpoenaed, many of them testifying about their knowledge of the ALF.
Friends of Animals in Connecticut who had financed CAFF’s undercover investigation of U.S. fur farming cooperated fully with the authorities. 1992 would be remembered as the year that intimidated dozens of grassroots activists as more and more people in the animal rights and radical environmental movement saw firsthand the repression the FBI and ATF was causing to those activists who supported ALF and Earth First! direct action warriors. Despite this intimidation, a handful of activists weathered the storm and refused to be intimidated by the Jackbooted Nazis’ of the U.S. Government. In Spring of ‘93 two CAFF volunteers became the target of federal harassment. Deborah Stout and Kimberly Trimiew would soon follow the path of Jonathan Paul to jail. Already Rik Scarce was currently in the county jail in Spokane, Washington for refusing to testify about his relationship with the ALF and Coronado.
Not only activists themselves were dealt Federal subpoenas to the Grand Juries, soon activists parents were also called before the inquisitors. Meanwhile, state governments and Congress were fighting for the passage of legislation specifically tailored to target ALF and Earth First! saboteurs. It wasn’t long until every state visited by the ALF passed “animal industries protection acts” that boosted any ALF-type raid to an instant felony punishable with huge fines and up to ten years in prison.
In July of 1993 a federal indictment was issued out of the Western District of Michigan naming Rod Coronado as the sole defendant, charged with the arson and break-in at M.S.U. Within days Coronado’s face was placed on the “Most Wanted” list of the FBI, ATF and U.S. Marshals. Though Congress and law enforcement knew the ALF to be a large well-structured organization the authorities could only build a case against Coronado due to his history and association with illegal direct action. Attempting to use a little fish to catch a big one, the U.S. Government had made a strategic decision to place all the blame on Coronado until evidence surfaced that would lead to indictments of other ALF warriors. Once again the forces of destruction that plagued our mother earth and her animal children had placed a price on the head of an indigenous warrior who fought to defend native American wildlife and wilderness.
Chapter 8. The Last Bite: Animal Damaged Control
Most people would think with four grand juries and a multi-divisional task force of FBI, ATF, state, university and county police forces investigating the ALF, that the warriors were hunkered in hiding from the law. The ALF was hiding, but not only from the law.
The sun was setting on a warm autumn day as three figures passed binoculars back and forth, gazing from a ridge on national forest lands in Utah at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal Damage Control Predator Research Facility located in Millville, just south of the University of Utah campus in Logan; the ADC field station is the largest research station in the U.S. that performs vivisection on coyotes, the objective being not saving lives, but destroying them.
For 65 years ADC has waged with full taxpayer support, a war on America’s wildlife. In 1931 Congress passed the Animal Damage Control Act which plainly states: “The Secretary of Agriculture is hereby authorized to promulgate the best methods of eradication, suppression, or bringing under control on ... areas of public domain or private lands, of wolves, lions, coyotes, bobcats, prairie dogs, ... injurious to agriculture and animal husbandry, for the protection of stock and other domestic animals ... and to conduct campaigns for the destruction of control of such animals.” Since its beginnings, ADC has been responsible for the murder of hundreds of thousands of grizzly and black bears, grey, red, swift and kit foxes, grey and timber wolves, mountain lions, bobcats, lynx, jaguars, mink, moose, elk, pronghorn antelope, bighorn sheep, blacktail, whitetail and mule deer, buffalo and coyotes.
Their tactics include M-44 sodium cyanide charges, steel-jaw traps, aerial shooting, neck snares, cage traps, burning and smoking out dens, spotlight shooting, shotgunning, leg and foot snares and a variety of poisons which frequently kill thousands of “non-target” species. All for the benefit of the livestock industry.
The ADC’s chief eradication researcher on coyotes is Frederick Knowlton who heads the Millville Predator Research Facility and whose headquarters is an office at the University of Utah. The primary goal of Knowlton’s research work is to develop techniques to totally control predator populations with poisons, traps and even tracking and eradication using radioactive isotopes. Knowlton has spent the last 30 years contributing directly to the killing of literally tens of thousands of coyotes.
In a 1960’s book on coyotes Knowlton is described on an aerial gunning campaign which downed two running coyotes. Upon landing and collecting the animals Knowlton comments with surprise at one of the coyotes which had only two legs, the other two having been ripped away in leghold traps. In the minds and hearts of the coyote nation there is a devil and his name is Fredrick Knowlton. Known to the environmental and animal movements for years the ADC has remained a bastillion of environmental and animal destruction in the U.S. What manifest destiny has done to indigenous peoples in this country, ADC is doing to its indigenous wildlife.
As the fur farm wars raged with federal authorities and fur farmers on extreme red alert, an ALF council gathered in the Rocky Mountain wilderness to discuss the prospects of future guerilla campaigns. Warriors from three different bands expressed the need to escalate the defense of America’s wildlife in the face of major repression and not to run and hide. Gathered around the council fire, federal documents detailing Knowlton’s research were passed around in the firelight. With Federal police on all sides, any future attacks would have to be lightening fast, already our numbers were too reduced to risk the loss of even one warrior. As a full moon rose over the encampment each warrior voiced his or her opinions on the path of war or retreat.
When each had spoken, a final voice recounted the generations of death and destruction waged by ADC, and its impact on the nations of animals that had once roamed freely on these lands. In the distance a coyote’s voice sang out, echoing in the warriors hearts sending shivers down their backs. It was decided the path would be war. As the old British ALF adage goes: “once it’s decided, it’s as good as done.”
The next month, ALF moles were sent in the four directions recruiting warriors for this massive attack. While in Utah camouflage-clad “hikers” camped out above the Predator Research Facility spending long nights watching the movements of students and researchers on the compound. It was on one of these first nights that the raiders heard what would become a familiar sound. Each night wild coyotes from the nearby hills would sing their evening songs, in response most of the eighty captives would answer in unison in lonely heartfelt cries. The first time these songs penetrated the hearts of the hidden warriors, tears of sadness and rage would cloud their vision through binoculars as they pledged to avenge the dying coyotes in the pens below.
Back on the campus of the University of Utah at Logan (U of U), warriors dressed as college students were studying the courtyard office of Knowlton which stood just 50 yards from the University Police station in a dead end cul-de-sac. By October, the warriors were poised to strike. Gathered in a canyon far away from the Research Facility, ten warriors stood in a circle, each in their own uniforms for the night. For some university sweatshirts and daypacks and running shoes, while others wore thin ski-masks rolled above their eyes, camouflage shirts and pants and disposable hiking boots. Two others were dressed in nice dinner clothes. These were to be the drivers.
Topographical and highway street maps were given to the warriors in waterproof ziploc bags and enough unhandled cash in case of emergency, should separation be necessary for a fast escape. The drivers would be monitoring police scanners and each team would have radio-contact and hand relay signals between the warriors in each team should a call come in.
In one warrior’s pack was a suction glass remover and incendiary device for Knowlton’s office. In another, boltcutters, wire cutters and thick gloves for the many holes that would need to cut in fences and coyote pens. One warrior, the lookout, held binoculars, spotting scope and an astronomy book; should this warrior be discovered, a stargazer was their alibi. The last warrior’s pack was filled with another incendiary device, mini-mag flashlight with red lens and an assortment of tools that would be used to gain entry into the Predator Research Facility.
There was something very different about this raid. It was not seen as an offensive action, but a defensive one, not only on the coyotes behalf, but also for the warriors. Our movement was under attack, with human freedom as well as animal freedom at risk. Such an action was necessary to prove to our enemies that the ALF’s back would not be broken.
Far away in downtown high-rises ATF and FBI agents worked feverishly around the clock attempting to eradicate the threat of an action like this one about to take place. Also, the long nights of recon had led the warriors to feel personally connected to the coyotes in the outdoor pens of the PRF. Many of these animals were born in the wild and knew the freedom others never had experienced. Each night the warriors would hear their cries and on some days would see coyotes in pens that had been intentionally starved for four days and then given poison-tainted feed knowing the coyote could not refuse food after this period of intentional starvation.
Throughout the compound improvements could be seen being made as researchers attempted to expend their budgeted funding before their fiscal year was up. If a government agency did not spend its allotted funds, its budget might be reduced the next year rather then increased. On one day Knowlton himself could be seen directing construction, while coyotes circled in pens surrounding him.
Our attack would be focused on the Predator Research Facility building itself and the large outdoor enclosures that held over 40 coyotes. Another chain-link kennel building held at least 40 more coyotes but their location was too near the night watchman’s house to risk liberation. Maybe if the facility was not on alert due to recent ALF raids the risk might be worth it, but to endanger the whole action most importantly the destruction of the Predator Research Facility for animals that sadly could be easily replaced, could not be justified.
In most ALF actions the feelings of victory are often offset by the rage and frustration for having to leave animals behind. But if our action was successful, the destruction of the lab and Knowlton’s research would mean the preservation of innumerable lives that would otherwise be extinguished by the benefits of ADC research.
Back on the U of U campus we would also attempt to strike Knowlton’s office right beneath the University police’s nose. On the evening of October 24th, two bicyclists pulled into a parking area on the U of U campus next to the Natural Resources Building, locked their bikes and walked arm in arm towards the police station near the courtyard that led to Knowlton’s office. One of the cyclist’s daypacks held a radio which was tuned to a channel monitored by a lookout with a police scanner. Establishing themselves with a clear view of the cop shop one warrior flashed the thumbs up while the other entered the dead end courtyard and approached the exterior window leading into Knowlton’s office.
Pulling on a dark pair of coveralls, the warrior then removed the aluminum trim on the window holding the glass against its frame and used the suction cup device to remove the glass. On an earlier recon mission a “student” had banged on the glass hard enough to set off any alarm that might be connected to it, then withdrew to watch for any response. There wasn’t one. The window was not alarmed. Setting the glass aside, the warrior rolled into the opening after lifting his daypack gingerly in. Emptying his pack of firestarting equipment and the incendiary device, he next filled the empty space with all of Knowlton’s computer discs and other vital documents. Next he gathered books, desk drawers and other combustible materials and laid them around Knowlton’s desk where the incendiary device was then placed setting the timer for shortly before dawn. The warrior then connected the 9-volt battery to the device thereby engaging it and gazing around him, took one last look at the office of a man whose career was based on the annihilation of a species.
No radio transmissions had been made which indicated the all-clear. Just 35 minutes after having entered the office, the warrior fled gathering the computer discs and other bounty. Stripping off his coveralls, the warrior then walked past the lookout’s location just 100 feet from the police station. The two then walked back to their locked mountain bikes and rode away into the night.
At about the same time as Knowlton’s office was being visited, a single file line of six warriors jogged along a path in the forest lands that led to the boundary fence of the Predator Research Facility and outlying coyote pens. The sky was magnificently filled with stars, and as the warriors approached the furthest fence, the lookout broke off to climb a rise where contact would be established with another lookout in the drop-off and pick-up vehicle. Climbing the ridge the lookout could see all roads entering into the ADC compound as well as the watchman’s house and coyote pens.
At the fence the remaining five warriors followed the lead warrior who began to cut a hole in the boundary fence in which to enter through. Once inside the fenceline, the warriors broke into two groups, one which would free the coyotes while the others would raid the lab.
Crawling on their bellies, two warriors approached the Predator Research Facility. Climbing one last chain-link fence the warriors were now deep within the ADC compound and only a stone’s throw from the sleeping watchman’s window. An alarm test had been made on a small bathroom window with success and now the warriors approached the window and began to remove the screen and frame.
At this point too much noise was being made to continue, so the warriors contemplated other points of entry that would create less noise as precious minutes ticked by. Finally as if on cue, the coyotes in the nearby kennel building began to howl and cry offering enough noise cover to rip the window from its frame.
Entering the PRF, the warriors were immediately faced with dozens of coyote skulls, leghold traps and “do not feed” signs outside the laboratory bathroom. Crawling on hands and knees, one warrior went straight for the structural center of the laboratory while the other gathered more computer discs and photo slides. The two warriors could have spent hours leafing through the files of predator research, but time was not something they had a lot of. After the stolen records in Michigan were recovered and their shipment used as a lead to a safe house, the decision was made to destroy the research at the PRF, not just seize it.
Setting the incendiary device amidst a pile of traps and desk drawers and other wooden materials the warriors activated the device and quickly exited the building. The incendiary device in the PRF was scheduled to go off at the exact time as the device in Knowlton’s office.
Retreating quietly back to the outlying coyote pens the two warriors regrouped with the three warriors cutting gaping holes in coyote pens. The warriors were each carrying a pair of boltcutters and excitedly described how coyotes were approaching the fence and digging opposite the warriors as they cut through the fence only inches away from the coyotes in an obvious attempt to speed their release. Stepping back, the coyotes were quick to follow each other out the pens and toward the mountains where wild coyotes could be heard calling to them.
As the five warriors cut fence after fence, coyotes in groups of twos and threes could be seen escaping the pens and racing to freedom. When the last pen was emptied the warriors retreated single file back towards the hills themselves. By the time they regrouped with the lookout on the ridge the warriors had already called for the rendezvous pick-up driver to come, so the six warriors quietly padded down the same path they had entered as the starfilled sky was filled with the songs of coyotes disappearing into the mountain wilderness.
As the first signs of dawn shone grey in the night sky, the incendiary devices triggered in both the U of U office of Fred Knowlton and at the Predator Research Facility. On the campus, it wasn’t long before the police noticed smoke billowing from the Natural Resources Building and quickly extinguished the fire but not before years of research went up in smoke. The firefighters own water had caused much of the damage. As the firefighters on campus doused the flames of Knowlton’s office the call came in from the watchman that the PRF was ablaze. By the time firefighters reached the facility over half of the laboratory had been completely destroyed. A week later, the whole structure would be determined unsafe and the entire lab was demolished. In January of 1993 Fred Knowlton was still pleading with county planning commissioners to grant him a temporary building permit to construct a new lab. All research at the U.S.D.A.’s Predator Research Facility had ground to a halt.
To add further insult to injury, the ALF accused Knowlton of illegally dumping tons of radioactive contaminated coyote carcasses from field experiments in New Mexico and when he denied the allegation the ALF provided an investigative reporter with his own memo to another researcher admitting his knowledge of not having obtained the necessary permits before burying his dead research subjects.
Thirtythree coyotes meanwhile were never recovered and the researchers were quick to express their concerns that the animals could not survive in the wild, but we know better don’t we? Running from the torture chambers of Knowlton’s lab that night the escaping coyotes saw not six human figures trotting down a mountain path, but six wild coyote warriors who had not forgotten their four-legged brothers and sisters.
Days later at a remote hideout victory campfires blazed as Knowlton’s computer discs were fed to the flames by the ALF warriors who had confiscated them from his office. Once more the ALF had proven that what could not be accomplished with years of protest, could be achieved with a handful of bravehearted warriors. Now it was time to wait for others to follow our lead.
Chapter 9. Operation Bite Back: Epilogue
Out of the ashes of the Predator Research Facility came retaliation from the FBI, as animal researchers and fur farmers organized lobbying efforts, screaming for an end to the ALF attacks on their legitimate businesses. Within two weeks of the Utah raid Jonathan Paul was jailed on contempt of court charges for not providing information to the on-going Federal Grand Juries which were now convened in Oregon, Washington, Michigan, Louisiana and Utah, all hunting for ALF warriors.
No sooner had Paul been released from jail, then Rik Scarce took his place. When Scarce was released still tight-lipped, he was followed by Deb Stout and then Kim Trimiew as Federal investigators used the Grand Jury process to intimidate activists into giving information about the ALF as too little physical evidence existed to indict anyone other than Coronado.
It could be argued that the grand jury was being used to harass a political movement, but with ALF attacks such as Operation Bite Back the Federal government could legitimize its witch hunts as investigations of “serious criminal activity”. U.S. authorities began to cooperate with Canadian authorities who were conducting their own investigations of the ALF after 29 cats had been rescued from a University in Alberta. One of the supporting activists from that raid had testified against the ALF and a warrant was soon issued for David Barbarash a known ALF supporter and former member, and Darren Thurston another ALF supporter. In early 1994, David Barbarash was captured in Scotts Valley, California leaving Jonathan Paul’s home. Paul, a known associate of Coronado’s had been under federal surveillance since his release from jail. Barbarash was soon extradited to Canada to face ALF charges in Alberta. He would spend over 20 months in prison for his “crimes” of rescuing cats destined to be killed by vivisectors, as would Darren Thurston.
It would be nice to believe that in 1993 and ‘94 ALF warriors were sheltered by the animal rights and radical environmental movements as the Federal Government hunted for them, but such was not the case. By harassing, subpoenaing and jailing innocent activists the FBI successfully drove a wedge between the ALF and its previous supporters. Many activists were witnessing the repercussions of supporting the ALF and one by one were made uneasy and afraid to offer assistance to ALF activists on the run. In classic divide and conquer tactics, the U.S. Government punished the legitimate animal rights and liberation movement as well as many Earth First! activists knowing by doing so they would turn many of these people against the ALF. It was a tactic that had been successfully used against every resistance movement opposed to U.S. policy. It would only be a matter of time before the pressure exerted on ALF supporters, activists and their families and friends would bring to the surface information that would lead to the arrest of an ALF warrior.
Chapter 10. The Capture of Rod Coronado
On September 28, 1994 Martin Rubio was feeding his animals on the Pascua Yaqui Indian Reservation outside of Tucson, Arizona when a tribal police car pulled up to his house. A Caucasian officer approached Rubio requesting his aid in helping a wounded redtail hawk that had been brought into the tribal fire department. The request was not unusual as, since his arrival on the reservation two years before, Rubio had been active in many community projects and his fondness of animals was known to many. Entering the tribal fire department Rubio was immediately jumped by over 12 agents from the FBI, ATF and U.S. Marshals. Rod Coronado had been captured. Labeled as “armed and dangerous” despite an ATF background check that revealed the ownership of no firearms. Coronado had been living peaceably with the tribe of his origins organizing activities for the youth in his community and doing grassroots organizing with the Student Environmental Action Coalition and local human rights groups as well as cultural preservation work for the Pascua Yaqui Tribe.
An anonymous tip to Crimestoppers led to Coronado’s capture and a $22,000 reward was paid out to the informant by fur farmers, taxiadermists, big game hunters and vivisectors. Bail was denied and in the first week of November, Coronado was extradited to Michigan to be arraigned on a two-count indictment relating to the ALF raid on M.S.U. The evidence used to indict Coronado was his own writings and news interviews voicing support of Operation Bite Back as well as phone records and a Federal Express billing slip found in the box of stolen research materials from M.S.U. vivisector Aulerich’s office that placed him in Michigan during the raid. Handwriting analysis also had matched the writing on the label to Coronado’s.
In early December, Coronado was granted bail after a lengthy court battle with U.S. Attorneys, FBI and ATF agents in which prosecutors argued for his continued detention based on the fact that he was a flight risk and still a fugitive from justice for illegal direct actions in three other countries, Canada, Iceland, and Denmark. His bond was set at an incredible $650,000.00. Just before his release from federal custody, Coronado was offered a plea agreement in which he was offered the lesser charge of misprison of a felony with a maximum of an 18-month sentence, if he agreed to testify as to who sent him to Michigan to act as an ALF conduit for stolen materials. Coronado flatly refused and was later released on bond. Within a month, a superseding seven count indictment was issued accusing Coronado of organizing the complete Operation Bite Back campaign, this despite the ATF and FBI knowing many others were involved. Federal prosecutors strategized that if all the weight of prosecution was laid on Coronado, he could possibly be coerced to testify rather than face 10 to 12 years in prison alone if found guilty. Other evidence, a reconstructed typewriter ribbon found in Coronado’s storage locker in Oregon requesting funding for ALF attacks being the most incriminating, and phone records that placed Coronado near ALF targets close to the time raids took place, was levelled against him. In addition federal investigators had matched Coronado’s finger prints to an empty museum case from which a Seventh Cavalryman’s Journal from the Little Bighorn Battlefield was stolen. A press release followed the theft demanding the return of sacred objects on display and an equal amount of space in the museum to communicate the indigenous perspective of “Custers Last Stand”. Prosecutors threatened to indict Coronado in Montana on separate charges. Prosecutors were also hoping to use DNA tests to match Coronado’s saliva to that found on a cigarette butt that was used as a delay timer on a incendiary device that malfunctioned at the Fur Breeders Co-op in Sandy, Utah in September of 1991.
The court case would be heard in the Western District of Michigan which meant that the jury pool would be the predominantly white suburbs and agricultural area of Western Michigan. Federal prosecutors had decided to prosecute Coronado in Michigan, far away from the west which in their eyes meant a liberal jury and also away from Washington where the FBI and ATF were being criticized severely due to their murder of Vicki Weaver and her son in Ruby Ridge, Washington, in a botched FBI/ATF, U.S. Marshals raid.
Coronado’s dilemma was that if he went to trial he would have to convince the jury why he wrote a letter asking for funding to attack fur farms and why he was always nearby ALF targets just before raids as well as blatantly lie and testify that he was not a member of the ALF. He would also be put on the stand and undoubtedly be questioned by the prosecution about his connections with other activists. Any denial of facts known already to the FBI could cost further charges of perjury as well as providing the Government with information that could lead to the indictment of others. Coronado always felt an obligation to accept responsibility for his own actions. The history of indigenous resistance and environmental protection in the U.S. had taught Coronado to never expect justice from a judicial system that favored big business and private property over the environment, animals and indigenous peoples. A Native American tried by an all-white jury for crimes he refused to condemn was almost certainly destined for conviction. Not to mention the risk of other activists being called to testify which would be the bait for information that might lead to further indictments of suspected ALF warriors. Meanwhile the biomedical and animal agriculture industries were demanding Coronado’s head on a plate as a symbol of deterrence to other remaining ALF warriors. The U.S. Attorney prosecuting the case had made Coronado’s conviction his priority, setting aside all other cases of his until he had it. It was at this time prosecutors once more told Coronado he could testify against other ALF members, receive a maximum of an 18 month sentence of which he would only serve eight months and be done with it all. Coronado still refused. Instead he began plea negotiations to avoid going to trial. Coronado was willing to testify as to his own role in the ALF, but refused to incriminate others. In March of 1995 Coronado entered a guilty plea to two counts, aiding and abetting the arson at M.S.U. for receiving stolen materials from the raid and a charge of destruction of U.S. Government property for his theft of the Cavalryman’s Journal. In return he was absolved of all federal prosecution in the U.S. districts investigating the ALF and promised never to be subpoenaed, questioned or indicted on charges relating to Operation Bite Back. A specific component of his plea bargain was that he would not be required to testify against other activists.
Some activists in the animal rights movement were quick to criticize Coronado for his unwillingness to go to trial and use the courts as a platform for the ALF. Others including many ALF supporters in England felt that Coronado should do whatever was necessary short of testifying, to obtain a short prison sentence. For many it was easy to say what they felt Coronado should do, yet few of us can say what we would do when faced with as much as 12 years in prison. Without a doubt Coronado has proven that he is worth more to the earth and animals out of prison than in it. Any people willing to criticize Coronado should first ask themselves why they didn’t support the ALF during Operation Bite Back, let alone participate then or now in ALF actions. Many of us in the ALF knew that the only thing that stood between the FBI and the ALF was Coronado’s unwillingness to testify about his role with other ALF members. The reason the U.S. Attorneys had first focused their case on Coronado was not because they believed he was criminally responsible for all of Operation Bite Back, though physical evidence was convincing that he was integral, but mainly because he was willing to give voice to a movement that was currently threatening the multi-billion dollar industries of animal abuse and environmental destruction through means that the U.S. Government had no control over.
On August 11, 1995 Coronado was sentenced to 57 months in Federal Prison before a courtroom full of vivisectors and FBI and ATF agents after the judge heard testimony as to the devastating impact the ALF had had on the animal research community. The judge compared Coronado to the Oklahoma City Bombers and despite his acknowledgement of Coronado’s “proven rehabilitation” as seen in his two years of community service on the Pascua Yaqui Reservation, he stated that a detrimental sentence was needed to serve as a deterrent to other people willing to break the law for what they believed in. The judge refused to award Coronado a reduced sentence based on his own acceptance of responsibility stating that his refusal to cooperate with law enforcement prevented it, this action alone cost Coronado an additional 18 months. In addition to the 4-½ years in prison the judge also ordered that Coronado pay $2.5 million in restitution to the victims of Operation Bite Back, to be paid in full immediately. To add insult to injury, U.S. Attorneys wrote a letter to Coronado two days after his sentencing asking him why he was willing to protect members of the animal rights community who wouldn’t even show their support by attending his sentencing. The only people present in the courtroom in Coronado’s defense were his parents, members of the Pascua Yaqui Tribe, and members of the People of Color Caucus of the Student Environmental Action Coalition. Still Coronado refused the latest offer and until 1999 will be a prisoner of war from the U.S. Governments continued war against nature and animals. On September 11, 1995 Coronado surrendered at the Federal Prison in Safford, Arizona and became the first ALF warrior in U.S. history to be sent to Federal Prison for actions on behalf of earth and animals.
Chapter 11. Until the Last Fur Farm Burns to the Ground...
In September of 1995 fur farmers and federal agents rejoiced over the beginning of a long prison sentence for admitted ALF warrior Rod Coronado. Boasting that the ALF’s back had been broken, FBI and ATF agents boasted on how since Coronado’s arrest little or no ALF action had been reported against the fur farm industry.
Federal investigators had moved into Syracuse, New York to uproot a growing ALF cell there and met with little success against the local network of young committed activists. The ATF had sent a message via Coronado’s lawyers in Michigan that the successful tactics of the new Coalition Against the Fur Trade in Memphis, Tennessee had drawn their attention. CAFT’s no compromise stance against the fur trade and its unequivocal support for the ALF made it the same type of threat that Coronado’s Coalition Against Fur Farms had been in the early 1990’s.
Contrary to what the FBI would want the public to believe, the ALF was anything but dead. Like a Phoenix rising from the ashes, the ALF struck four fur farms in the 1995 winter pelting season releasing mink and fox from their cages. In Chilliwack, British Columbia in October 2,400 mink were released from the Dargatz mink farm into the surrounding forest in the first major mink liberation in North America claimed by the ALF. Less than a month later the ALF struck again, this time releasing 4,000 mink from the Rippin Fur Farm in Aldergrove, British Columbia despite a security patrol hired after the first raid. Not to be outdone by their Canadian counterparts American ALF warriors struck outside Olympia, Washington, releasing 200 mink from Clarence Jordan’s mink farm the same week, the same farm warriors had been chased away from back in 1991. Also 30 foxes from a Tennessee fur farm were released from their cages in late 1995.
Shortly after the raids, the Canada Mink Breeders Association posted a $50,000 reward for information leading to the conviction of ALF activists. Many of the released mink were recovered but still hundreds escaped. The economic damage to mink farms is not only measured by the actual loss of mink but also due to the confusion caused when a fur farms breeding stock is mixed amongst mink raised for pelting. Once a mink is out of its cage, it’s nearly impossible to distinguish it from any other. In this way, years of selective breeding is lost and the fur farmer must begin again to isolate breeding mink based on pelt characteristics and fur quality. The raids also struck only days before the pelting season, a time that often makes or breaks a fur farm. Fur farmers claimed that farm raised mink stood a minimal chance of survival in the wild yet virtually the whole present mink populations of Iceland and England are made up of mink farm escapees. Also in Newfoundland, Scandinavia and the former Soviet Union, viable wild populations of mink have begun with unintentional releases from fur farms. In the truest act of animal liberation and wildlife preservation North American activists can strike a blow against the fur industry while at the same time helping to reintroduce a depleted native predator back into its natural habitat.
1996 began with another ALF raid on the Wisconsin fur farm of Bob Zimbal outside of Sheboygan, this time releasing 200 mink from the breeding population. Following the January raid in the leading state for mink pelt production, the Fur Commission USA increased the reward to $70,000 for information leading to the conviction of any ALF warriors in either Canada or the U.S.
Clearly it could be seen what the fur industry feared most, not protests, not negative media coverage, but illegal direct actions. The only form of activism for which the corporations and courtrooms cannot control. Not to be intimidated by the rekindled international investigation of the ALF, nor the $70,000 reward, ALF warriors struck another mink farm, this time the L.W. Bennet and Sons fur farm in Ontario County, New York in April 1996, releasing 3,000 mink from their cages of which more than a thousand escaped recapture. Since the raid, the fur farmers have stated that the ALF has pushed them closer to the edge of bankruptcy and lay-offs of farm employees will be necessary. The Canadian and American fur industry has raised rewards for the capture of the ALF to $100,000. More than five times the amount offered for the capture of violent criminals guilty of rape, murder or child abuse. And the battle continues. In June, 1996, on the fifth anniversary of the launching of Operation Bite Back, ALF warriors returned to the Utah Fur Breeders Cooperative liberating 75 mink being subjected to nutritional research at the Sandy, Utah facility.
As the 1990’s continue, the ALF is showing no signs of weakness as more and more activists become disenchanted with less effective legitimate means of reform in their attempt to lay a barbaric industry to rest. Four hundred years of death and destruction is enough.
There are currently less than 500 fur farms left in the United States and now more than ever, ALF inspired direct action is quite possible the most effective tactic of putting them out of business. What remains to be seen is whether the grassroots radical environmental and animal liberation movements will be brave enough to stand up to the police repression that comes to movements that have proven to be a sincere threat to business interests destroying our planet and its last native wildlife. Clearly, the message from the ALF is as it appeared in the press release from the Oregon State University Experimental Fur Farm raid five years ago: “Until the last fur farm burns to the ground... expect to hear from us”.
Chapter 12. “Brave Hearts Forward!”
1996 — it is a felony to free animals from laboratories, fur farms, factory farms, zoos and rodeos. Punishment up to ten years in prison, fines up to $100,000. Release one mink back into its native habitat from a fur farm and you are a terrorist with a $100,000 price on your head. Welcome to a country where politicians are bought and paid for, where the agenda of the Justice Department is decided by big business and corporate dollars, the largest U.S. industries being the food, medical, military and construction trades whose very existence is based on earth destruction and animal exploitation. Billions of dollars of profits from misery, death and destruction. Earth, animal and human life — all just another commodity in the “Free” world.
Warriors! it is time to step forward, be brave, act from our hearts and not let the fear of our enemies or what they can do to our physical bodies stop us from doing what we know is right. It is time for you to stop pointing fingers at others, quick to reveal what is wrong with their path of struggle. Make change with your own lives, not by trying to change that of others. Real change comes from within, it is not something you can achieve by buying tshirts or putting a bumpersticker on your ozone destroying, animal testedgasoline-powered car.
Spreading an idea is good, but it takes warriors to lead this battle to defend what remains of earth and animals. The fact that there is little or no justice for the earth and animals should come as no surprise to anyone who knows U.S. history. Yet still we plod on, hoping that we can scrape a few meager crumbs together through legislative reform or corporate compassion. History tells us that all this has ever done is allowed the spirit of resistance to become harnessed, tuned into “politically correct” consumption of products that still make our enemies richer and stronger. Turning our power over to others who delegate themselves as the leaders of our movements, ranking in five-figure salaries while they compromise the earth and animals they claim to represent. When we as warriors appoint ourselves as guardians of all that is natural and free, we accept the responsibility to act on the earth’s and our non-human relations behalf as if it was our own flesh and blood. We do not replace the vivisector with the friendly needle of a “compassionate killer”. We do not measure our victories by column length coverage or length of broadcast on the corporate controlled media machine, but by our commitment to ensure that those that we rescue and that which we defend is protected from our enemies with our own bodies and freedom as shields if necessary. We do not slander those who have sacrificed their freedom and risked their lives because their beliefs do not reflect our own. We show great respect, not only to our Earth Mother and her Animal Children but also to each other. We are warriors. The rear guard who must defend the weak, sick and voiceless who cannot defend themselves against the evil that many humans have become. There are too few of us, and we must not let ourselves be divided by idealistic virtues when we are all willing to risk our lives and freedom for earth and animals. Like the indigenous nations of this land who often warred with each other, yet came together when the threat against the earth was upon us, we must also put aside our differences and concentrate on the common enemies we all share. Like the many tribes who differed from one another yet all shared great reverence and respect for mother earth, we must also recognize our differences and choose carefully who we want to live and fight with, but come together as one solid strong ungovernable force when the enemy is upon us and as we witness the sin of animal abuse and earth destruction. Our orders are from our Creator and we need to find solutions to the problems that keep us apart and join together to achieve the victories we all believe in.
We also must recognize that we are living in a state of martial law where information is controlled to the extent that we may never receive the support we would like in protecting the environment and animals which ultimately benefit all life. For these reasons we must not be discouraged when simply fighting to ensure a healthy planet earth that can sustain life is seen by the governing powers as acts of terrorism. But remember, the one greatest thing that separates us from our enemies is our reverence for life. All Life. Even the lives of our enemies. Destroying the machines of destruction rather than those who operate them must always remain our prime objective. That and rescuing the victims of that destruction with guarantees of their safety and sanctuary. If we do this, our earth powers will never leave us and the spirit of love and compassion will return to the face of the earth.
We have to remember that the battle on behalf of mother earth and her animals is about love. There’s enough hate in the world generated by our opposition. To perpetuate more violence on behalf of our cause only reduces us to the enemy’s evil depths. I know its hard, when the things we see can be so cruel and callous, but when we become motivated out of the dark force of hate we step closer to becoming just another political faction justifying violence to achieve its means. As the revolutionary Che’ Guevera once said, “Let me say at the risk of sounding ridiculous, that the true revolutionary is motivated by immense feelings of love.”
Some people within the animal rights and environmental movements believe that to achieve our goals we must present our ideas in such a way as to appeal to mainstream society, that with public support we can legislate change and influence our political representatives to see us not as a threat, but as harbingers of a new age. These people will say say it is counterproductive to their agenda to burn laboratories down, and destroy animal research records, and that the ALF and other direct action groups are extreme and are jeopardizing everything that has been accomplished for the environment and animals through legitimate means. We say absolutely.
Why accept larger and cleaner cages for lab animals and the preservation of the Wolf, Grizzly and Condor with “experimental non-essential populations”? We demand nothing short of the total abolition of vivisection and the complete protection of the last remaining native wildlife and their habitat. Yes it is extreme to burn labs, but the ALF is answering to an extreme situation. We didn’t escalate the war against nature, the enemy has and we are only here to fight it. What is extreme is what the governing forces of this continent have done to those peaceful nations of others called animals that humanity lived in harmony with for thousands of years before European Conquest. The crumbs from the political tables of compromise will not achieve liberation of our mother earth and her animals, they will only result in false faith in a political and corporate structure that cannot survive without animal and earth abuse. So to the apologist of the animal rights and environmental organizations who are quick to denounce the defense of earth and animals to preserve their position and favor by our enemies we say, we are warriors, nothing more, nothing less. The ALF leaves the path of moderation to those who sincerely believe that that is the road to victory. But we also ask that those who approach the legal means of reform with the same conviction in which the ALF approaches its own, not be so quick to condemn the avenues of illegal direct action. Without illegal action on the path in pursuit of liberty and justice, many of this century’s greatest social changes never would have been achieved.
As with any struggle for social and especially ecological change, all avenues of action must be utilized and recognized because without them our battle appears to be that of a splintered faction unable to share basic common goals. The animal rights and liberation movements must readily accept ALF cells as its belligerent force, in the same way as many other revolutionary bodies across the world who reflect the objectives of a larger, yet more moderate movement that share the same goals.
Not only do we rescue individuals and utilize guerilla warfare to sabotage industries destroying earth and animals, but whether others recognize it or not, the ALF also brings issues to light and creates the catalyst for others in the movement to continue pressuring for change. Actions speak louder than words, and those actions lead to more talk which breeds more action.
Ultimately, direct action is only temporary liberation. It is the immediate liberation of a few and the unleashing of a vision that requires lifelong commitment to achieve lasting change. A commitment that will undoubtedly lead to great personal sacrifice, knowing true peace and justice may be years in coming. We must always be searching for solutions to the problems we see in today’s society and live our ideals not only towards the earth mother and animals, but also towards other humans whether we wear the mask of the ALF or not.
Its not as simple as a choice in diet, though that’s a start, but involves the willingness to listen and understand others whose views we might at first be unwilling to accept. Only through that process will our direct action movement diversify and grow while never losing its integrity. These thoughts and views have grown within us as one ALF cell which has survived police repression, underground resistance and in-fighting amongst above-ground movement supporters. What we have realized is the path of animal liberation invariably leads to the wider road of human and earth liberation. A road that is filled with bravehearted warriors of all sexual persuasions, races, religions and beliefs, yet all travelling forward towards the same light which is true victory. So here we are survivors ourselves, carrying the scars not only of barbed wire and broken glass but scars from the heartless actions of men who know not what they do. Still, we will never give up. We do not have that choice, we must constantly think of the future generations and the earth they will inherit.
And on this day we are inspired. In our darkest moments we have seen others take on the warrior path and the light at the end of the tunnel is growing into a brilliant blaze fed by the spirits of young warriors who are the hope of millions of oppressed animals and our wounded mother earth. One day we will be able to gather around the council fire and remove our masks to reveal the faces of the human spirit that in the past lived in harmony with all life. Until that day may the long cold nights of ALF warriors the world over be filled with the light of protection, the strength of all past earth warriors and the powers of nature which we fight for. Our enemies strength lies in the force of fear which shall be overcome with the power of love. Love for our Mother Earth, love for her Animal Children, love for each other and love for the spirit of resistance. We know in our hearts what is right we must have the courage to follow it. Now, Brave Hearts Forward!, Coward Hearts To The Rear!
Animal Liberation Front of
Western Wildlife Unit
Chapter 13. Letter From Rod Coronado
On March 3, 1995, I pled guilty to aiding and abetting a fire at Michigan State University that destroyed 32 years of research intended to benefit the fur farm industry. The Animal Liberation Front (ALF) claimed responsibility for the raid, the seventh in a series of actions dubbed “Operation Bite Back” which targeted fur farms and universities engaged in taxpayer supported research jointly funded by the fur trade. I also pled guilty to one count of theft of U.S. Government property, in particular, a journal belonging to a 7th Cavalry Officer killed at the Little Bighorn near Crow Agency, Montana in 1876. This negotiated plea agreement is the result of a seven year investigation by the FBI into my activities and the Federal Government’s continued targeting of indigenous activists who assert their sovereignty and continue their fight for cultural survival. It also is the culmination of nine federal grand juries that have lasted over three years, subpoenaed over sixty political activists, jailed four for six months each, and harassed and intimidated countless others in the hunt for members of the Animal Liberation Front. In return for the guilty pleas, the U.S. Government promises not to seek further prosecution of me in the remaining districts investigating the ALF, nor subpoena me to testify against others suspected of ALF activity. The price I pay for not testifying against my compatriots is a three to four year prison sentence. Prior to the plea agreement, I was the sole defendant in a seven count indictment alleging that I was responsible for a nationwide coordinated effort to cripple fur farm research and development. With a lifetime commitment to protect the earth behind me and in front of me, I must choose carefully the battles in which I fight, and the arenas in which I fight them. Like most indigenous people I am unable to match the limitless resources of the U.S. government in their efforts to incarcerate me, nor am I able to adequately defend myself amidst laws that criminalize the preservation of our sacred mother earth.
This is only the latest attempt by the U.S. Government to make an example of those who break free from the confines of legitimate protest. At a time when ecological and cultural destruction is commonplace and within the perimeter of the law, it sometimes becomes necessary to adhere to the higher laws of nature and morality rather than stand mute witness to the destruction of our land and people. I believe it to be the obligation of the earth warrior to never be ashamed of ones own actions, to honor the sacred tradition of indigenous resistance. Therefore, I accept full responsibility for my actions and remain grateful to have had the honor of serving as a number of the ALF as their spokesperson and supporter.
With a record of over 300 animal liberation actions and rescues in the U.S. without injury or loss of life, yet thousands of lives spared from the horrors of vivisection and fur farming, the women and men of the ALF remain to me some of the most respected of non-violent warriors in the struggle to save our planet. My role in the raid at MSU was as a non-participant, acting as a conduit for the truth hidden behind the locked laboratory door. While in Ann Arbor, Michigan awaiting instructions I received a phone call from an anonymous ALF member detailing the raid for inclusion into a press release. Later, I received research materials and evidence seized during the raid. These documents would have exposed taxpayer sponsored research benefiting the fur farm industry, and experiments where mink and otters are force-fed toxins and other contaminates until they convulse and bleed to death. Accompanying these documents was a videotape of the cramped and unsanitary conditions mink and otters endure at MSU’s research laboratories. My desire to release this information to the public was much greater than my desire to protect myself from the rabid investigations by the FBI and ATF. Seventeen months later, I was indicted by the Michigan grand jury based on this evidence.
Earlier in the month of February, 1992, I was at the Little Bighorn River in Montana. I went to the sight of the infamous battle and was shocked at this, the only monument I know of that glorifies the loser. In further disgrace to the warriors who lost their lives defending their families and homelands, the monument paints a one-sided story of the conquest of indigenous peoples of the Great Plains by the U.S. military. The truth remains that George Armstrong Custer and his 7th Cavalry were an illegal occupational force trespassing in clear violation of the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868 to attack peaceful encampments of noncombatants in the heart of the Lakota Nation. The theft of the Cavalryman’s journal is a reminder of indigenous discontentment with the treatment of our heritage and culture by the U.S. Government.
Over the last ten years I have placed myself between the hunter and the hunted, the vivisector and the victim, the furrier and the fur bearer, and the whaler and the whale. These are my people, my constituency. It is to them that I owe my life. I have chosen to continue the time honored tradition of resistance to the invading forces that are ravaging our homes and people. Many people have been tortured, murdered and imprisoned on this warriors path, yet we must continue to stand tall against the tyranny that has befallen this continent in the last 503 years. As warriors we must accept that prison awaits those who are unwilling to compromise the earth and her people when we choose to remain allegiant to fellow warriors whose identity remains unknown. We are all Subcommandante Marcos, Crazy Horse and the ALF. Never, ever should we forget that in order to achieve the peace and liberation we strive for, some sacrifice must occur. Unfortunately, history tells us it is almost always us who must sacrifice. This will not be the first time an indigenous person has gone to prison while upholding our obligation to protect our culture, homelands and people, and it most definitely will not be the last. It is with total love that I say good-bye to my earth mother for a little while to enter the concrete and steel prisons the U.S. Government reserves for its discontent citizens. Such rewards await those who must give their lives and freedom to prevent the destruction of the most beautiful planet in the universe, our life-support system, our beloved mother earth.
To those who have fought beside me, you will always be my friends and my families, and for you I will give up that which I love the most, my freedom. I will face prison rather than speak one word against those on the front lines of the battle to protect earth. Our relationship is a sacred one, and in your own freedom I pray that you spread your love through action that continues to rescue all that remains wild. Never Surrender!
Though we may never see each other again in the trenches of the struggle for animal and earth liberation through illegal direct action, in my heart I will always hold you closest. Be patient my friends. I have not forgotten those already behind bars, those in traps and in the rifle sights of man’s ignorance and greed. It is time for me to hand over my role as a “hero” to the animal and environmental movements to others whose faces are not yet known. To you I give the responsibility to preserve and protect what is left of the splintered nations of others we call animals. In your hands lies the future of this centuries old struggle, in yourselves you must find heroes. Now you must take the risks rather than cheer on those who have walked before you. With a strong heart, the spirit of the earth which is our greatest strength, will never leave you. Carry her spirit well, and shower yourselves in her beauty when in need of true power. I have been brought back home by my people, the Yaqui Nation and it is to them that I now return to satisfy the restless spirits of my grandmothers whose cries I must answer.
Sometimes we are forced to do things we do not like when we are warriors. On this land that I now live where my ancestors are buried, the Great warrior Geronimo sometimes found it necessary to surrender to the Enemy in order to recruit young warriors for future battles. We are a patient people. Never forget the beauty, magic, love and life we all fight so hard to protect and that others have given so much to defend. Our pain and sadness is very real but so is our happiness and joy as we witness the coming Spring. I will always be beside you, and you may always find shelter in my home. I love you all, and in you place the hopes for the rebirth and rekindling of our sacred relations to all animal, people, and creation.
Forever in Your Honor and
in Her Service
Chapter 14. The Story of Coyote Nations (just one chapter...)
Hey is that you? Sitting there on the hill? Watching us tonight?
Have you come to let us out of here? We’ve been waiting for you.
Crying every night.
Trying to tell you hoping you would come.
Have you heard... what they are doing to us in here? Listen, 140 coyote people crying in distress. Each with their own story of separation, pain, torture and death.
Listen, they are trying to tell you, enough to break your heart.
Brother. You got to let us out of here.
Warrior, listen in case you’re questioning your next move.
They starve us in here, then tempt us with sheep, radioactive poison sheep.
And they watch us die. Feeding our pain into a computer to study.
Sister-warrior listen, in case you are unsure.
They mate us to have pups, then steal them, maim them, poison them, we never see them again. Only sometimes we hear them, only children
They cut us open, take our wombs, poison us, watch us die, see if we can still have pups. And when they are done with us, they dump our bodies by the ton, in mass toxic grave.
Lightning-womyn sister of mine, let us out.
Thunder-man brother, pay them back.
We are Coyote, and our medicine is strong, even now.
You and I, we are the same. You Coyote Warrior, we Coyote. Spirit healers.
It is our way, always wild, never die.
Morning has come and you are leaving, our hearts are sad, and we cry to you.
But we listen to your promise to return.
Hey its you again! You are back!
This time you stand tall, proud, brave hearts forward as you walk the road.
Not come to watch. To act!
We see you there, cutting fence with their tools.
Coming closer, we sing, coyotes in distress, coyotes excited.
We are sick, and our tribes broken, but tonight some will go free.
We howl. One heart together with you, to give strength to our weak, love to the ones left behind, hearts break, crying in sorrow.
Run Coyote. Head to the hills. Run and be free. Be Coyote again.
Do not look back.
We hear your warrior cries, you are strong, and use our medicine well.
You take heart from us, and we from you.
Still there are some that are our sisters, brothers, all star soldiers.
Maybe we will make it... at least some.
Coyote Warriors where are you tonight?
Today we watched the laboratory burn. The one where our torturers hide.
We watched the flames as the sun came up, danced and sang like Coyote again.
Now we must run, and so must you. But forever, our hearts shall be as one.
Hey Coyote Warriors! Where are you? We’ve been looking for you.
We need you. We wait for you in the deserts, mountains, plains, our home.
You Coyote Warriors belong here too.
Born to the humans, still living among them in their crazy cities.
The time for you to leave is now. Come home. There is much to be done.
Many of our wild ones still imprisoned, remember?
Being tortured, killed, destroyed. We never forget.
Yours is to fight, this fight dog soldier. Keep our wild spirits alive!
Sacred hoop strong, it was never broken.
And your home is here, among us your wild sisters and brothers.
We have much to teach you, remind you of our power. Come home Coyote Warriors. It is time to reweave the web, the tribe to each other, all to the Earth Mother.
Build your fires, and there we will sing to you. Tell you of the days long ago, when we were all one. Coyote medicine is your strength.
The earth spirits are strong, and are poised to help you... if you listen.
Warrior societies, your time is now. Find each other. Come back home.
You should only be among the enemy to raid.
All you warriors, keepers of the dream, do not let them have you.
Do not go down.
What makes you think you do not have to hide? We must.
We have coyote medicine to help you stay free.
Remember what it is like to live.
Wild. Proud. Together. Free.
Prepare earth warriors.
Trickster is coming.
 Experimental non-essential populations are the legal definitions of reintroduced wolves, grizzlies, and California condors that are exempted from the protection of the Endangered Species Act. This definition extends to all members of the reintroduced species including former wild undocumented populations. This definition allows for the killing of these species without the severity of punishment for killing an endangered species even though the species is still endangered. An example is Jay York of Meeteetse, Wyoming who shot a “federally protected” wolf March 30, 1996 and plead guilty and was fined $500 and given no jail time.