25 March 2012

Animal abolitionists strike farms in Australia, US

In a span of less than 48 hours, animal abolitionists in at least two parts of the world launched separate, unrelated attacks against two prime targets in the meat industry: a massive hen farm in Australia, and a pheasant breeding facility in Oregon.

On the night of March 13, a major farm in the Australian capital city of Canberra was raided, resulting in slashed conveyor belts, broken packaging equipment, and damaged forklifts. Operations at the farm, which holds about 30,000 chickens, were brought to a standstill.

For those involved, the attack represents a small victory in a much broader war against institutionalized cruelty. Although no particular organization has claimed responsibility, an anonymous individual named "The Blackbird" recently took credit, posting a video to YouTube which depicts chickens at the farm jammed into tight cages with barely any room to move.

Perhaps predictably, Australian Egg Corporation -- which represents the interests of egg producers, holds a seat on Australia's parliament, and is funded by taxpayer dollars -- questioned the validity of the YouTube video. Australian police plan to trace the user who uploaded it as part of their investigation.

The Australian Green Party tried to pass legislation in 2009 which would have banned battery hens by 2011, but the measures failed in the Legislative Assembly, with former chief minister Jon Stanhope arguing that such restrictions would simply cause the hen farms to relocate elsewhere.

Just a day later, far across the world, animal abolitionists from the Animal Liberation Front (ALF) in Oregon crossed a barb wired fence and gained access to Queener Ridge Pheasant Company, which breeds Ring-necked Pheasants primarily to be used for hunter target practice (also known as "canned hunting").

Once inside, they "dismantled a huge section of an aviary that held between 75-150 pheasants, liberating them into the night sky," according to a statement released anonymously by the ALF.  It continues: "Ringneck pheasants are a naturalized species to this region and are specifically bred to retain their wild characteristics and instincts, so we have no doubt that these animals can survive in the wild upon release. Otherwise doomed to a life of confinement and brutality these sentient animals now have a fighting chance at survival. For an industry whose only purpose is the infliction of violence against sentient animals for entertainment and pleasure, the only ethical choice we can make is to set your animals free."

Those responsible are facing state charges -- but possibly federal charges as well, because, according to Linn County Undersheriff Bruce Riley, "this is a form of domestic terrorism."

Since its passage in 2006, the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (AETA) has systematically suppressed lawful advocacy for animal rights by labeling individuals who conspire to "interfere" with an animal enterprise as "terrorists."

When urging the passage of AETA in 2006, the FBI identified both the Earth Liberation Front and the Animal Liberation Front as the "most serious domestic terrorist threat in the United States today."

Jonathan Reynolds
Jonathan is a freelance writer and blogger residing in upstate New York.

Photo credit:cc:flickr.com/photos/grendelkhan