I must admit, some stories test my ability to see both sides of an issue.
But as a news reporter, I have to remain neutral — I have to keep my articles balanced and fair, as they say.
Recently, a mink farm near Burley was raided by so-called “animal liberators.” These animal activists release fur-bearing animals from the confines of their cages and into the wild.
The activists who claimed responsibility for the raid on the mink farm said in an online magazine that they “acted with love in our hearts.”
Many have argued against that claim.
Times-News reader Jared Boley commented online, saying: “Those mink will now die of starvation, disease, and the elements! Granting a cruel, slow, inhumane death!”
Michael Whelan, executive director of the Fur Commission USA, agreed.
Whelan told me that these “liberated” mink seldom survive in the wild. Many are hit by cars because they have learned to associate the sound of a vehicle with food.
I love animals, and I understand the emotional issues behind animal activism. But I also respect Idaho’s right-to-farm act.
Mink farming is not illegal, but destruction of property is.
The raid is an act of “economic terrorism in my book,” commented reader Jeff Pierson. “No different than burning down a saw mill in northern Idaho.”
Pierson is correct. Acts of sabotage against animal farms are a felony under the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act, signed into law in 2006.
Anonymous activists encourage these raids online but do not carry out the raids themselves.
“They know better,” said Whelan. “They target young, impressionable kids looking for a cause.”
I’d like to quote what the activists said in their online magazine called “Bite Back” about the July 28 raid on the Moyle mink farm outside of Burley:
“They will claim that we are terrorists. We say that if peacefully opening cages is an act of terrorism, then the word has no meaning. It is appropriately applied to the mass imprisonment and killing of wild animals.
“They will claim that these mink are domesticated animals and will starve. Documentation on the success of farm-bred mink in the wild is extensive, so we will add only our experience watching these naturally aquatic animals, who had spent their entire lives in cages, head instinctively for water and begin to swim and hunt.
“They will claim that conditions on mink farms are humane. We ask why, then, they try only to hide those farms from the public, pushing for legislation to criminalize the taking of photographs. The mink that we freed from the Moyles lived in intensive confinement in their own waste. Their suffering was plain to the eye, and their yearning for freedom plain to the soul.
“…They will say that we will not stop short of the complete and total end of the killing of animals for their fur. On this point we are in total agreement.”
Jack Rose, a physiology professor at Idaho State University who occasionally conducts medical research on minks at his lab at the university’s Department of Biological Sciences in Pocatello, was recently placed on an animal activist group’s “hit list.”
“These kids think they will become heroes for sabotaging a mink farm,” Rose said. “What they don’t realize is that these actions make them criminals and could follow them for the rest of their lives.”
Fur Commission USA
Extremists attack mink farm in Burley Idaho.
July 30, 2013
In the early morning hours of Sunday July 28, animal rights terrorists broke into a Burley Idaho mink ranch, destroyed fencing, breeding records and over-turned thousands of mink pens. Close to 3,800 mink were released from their cages, though only a small fraction ever left the mink yard. Over 60 friends and neighbors helped collect the scared and traumatized animals throughout the following day.
“We are so grateful to our neighbors that have come to help us in our time of need.” said ranch owner Cindy Moyle. “The people who did this have no idea how stressful it is for the animals. The mink are domesticated and have never had to find food or water for themselves. Those that don’t return soon will suffer and die painfully.” The Moyle family spent much of Tuesday picking up mink off the road, as they are attracted by traffic. The animals equate the sound of motorized vehicles with the feed cart.
Cassia County Sheriff’s Dept. is investigating, as well as the FBI. Crimes committed against mink farming fall under the federal Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act, and can result in a significant prison sentence for those convicted.
An anonymous internet post has claimed responsibility for the attack. “Historically, these crimes are committed by a small group of individuals that travel around, state-to-state, terrorizing farmers” stated Michael Whelan, Executive Director of Fur Commission USA, the trade organization representing the U.S. mink farmers. “These aren’t peaceful protesters, these are criminal thugs that blindly follow an anti-ag agenda. They’re felons that are ruining lives. Nothing more.” Fur Commission USA is offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction.
Though the anonymous claim does not identify any organization, the FBI considers the Animal Liberation Front (ALF) the number one domestic terror threat in the U.S.
Idaho is the 3rd largest mink producing state in the U.S. The farms create over $40 million in revenue for the state each year, and support thousands of jobs.
SANDY PARKER REPORT, VOL. 35, ISSUE 16, JUNE 13, 2011
The following extract is reproduced with permission from Sandy Parker Reports, Weekly International Fur News. Sandy Parker has been covering the fur industry for more than four decades. For most of that time he has published a weekly newsletter, detailing results of international pelt auctions, wholesale price trends, business developments and movements in the trade, as well as economic and political activities that may impact on it.
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International Fur News
with Sandy Parker
New York Market Time Kicks Off
NEW YORK MARKET TIME GETS UNDER WAY THIS WEEK, although some retailers follow their own timetables and have already been in to view the new collections.
Vendors describe the traffic so far as what has become normal for this time of the year, but only a faint echo of what took place years ago when New York was regarded as the fur capital of the world. Now, with several international fairs having developed as one-stop shopping centers where retailers fill most of their basic needs, New York has become a final destination for the fashion pieces to add more spice to their offerings.
Indications are that the traffic will pick up significantly this week at least partly in connection with two events scheduled by Fur New York. One is a seminar for retailers, June 13 at Hotel 30/30. FNY’s annual party and Person of the Year dinner will be held June 14.
IN THIS ISSUE
China Focusing on Home Market
New Fair for Domestic Trade
Currency Doubts Still Persist
Fox Demand Strong in Helsinki …
… but Prices Retreat from Peaks
World retail sales of fur products edged up to $15.6 billion in 2011/12, an increase of almost $600 million over the previous year, according to the International Fur Trade Federation. The new total represents a 44% increase over the past decade, the IFTF calculates, and has been driven to a great degree by increasing demand for fur products in Asian markets, including China, Japan and Korea. Fur sales in those markets amounted to $5.6 billion in the latest period, a gain of about 5% over the previous year and more than triple what they were 10 years ago.
Asia now leads the rest of the world in terms of fur consumption, accounting for just over 35% of the total, the organization points out, having passed Europe. According to its latest calculations, European fur sales reached $4.4 billion, or 28% of the global total. Eurasian sales (including Russia, Turkey, Ukraine and Kazakhstan) were $4.4 billion, or 27.5%, and the Americas (North and South) were $1.2 billion, just over 7% of the total. The IFTF consists of 42 national member associations and organizations in 35 countries and has been reporting global retail sales for many years, but this is the first time it has produced a breakdown by country or region. It also points out that, with fur skins trading at record prices at the auctions, this has also contributed to the increase. As has the fact that more than 400 fashion designers are now showing furs in their London, Paris, New York and Milan presentations. In addition, new technology and manufacturing techniques have broadened the use of many furs not only for fall/winter, but even spring/summer.
Mark Oaten, CEO of the IFTF, points out that the latest statistics merely represent retail sales. “Our new working relationship with PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) means that later in the year we will be able to release a value for the entire global industry, covering every part of the supply chain from manufacture, dressing and dyeing to design and more”.
“It is increasingly difficult,” concludes Oaten, “for the international business community to ignore an industry that contributes on such a significant scale to the global economy. Despite a sluggish economic backdrop, we are confident that fur sales will continue to buck the trend and I predict further growth in future years.”
The Municipality of the District of Digby (Nova Scotia, Canada) is one step closer to making electricity and money from mink manure. The Department of Energy has approved a renewable energy project in Weaver Settlement for the community feed-in tariff (COMFIT) – meaning the municipality can sell the electricity they generate to Nova Scotia Power at a special, higher than normal, price. The technology is well-established using cow and hog manure and even sileage but this will be the first anaerobic digestor using mink manure anywhere in the world. Read more here….
Mink prices soared to historic heights at the season’s first North American sale in Toronto, in what was described as the biggest mink offering in North American history. Chinese and Russian buyers spearheaded the demand, in order to satisfy the still-growing appetites of people back home. The February sale at North American Fur Auctions attracted over 700 buyers, its biggest attendance ever, and at times it was standing room only.
The bidding was spirited, sending prices to historic highs for North American mink, fully 20% over the same sale last year, according to the company. Buyers agreed, calling prices firm to the record levels achieved elsewhere for comparable goods. Hong Kong/China, as expected, was the dominant buyer throughout, with strong support from Greece, Russia and Korea. Chinese buyers, whose ranks have been growing at each successive auction on both sides of the Atlantic for several years – in line with the expansion of their domestic market at the manufacturing and retail levels – quickly dominated the action.
This also was the biggest-ever offering of mink at a North American sale, some 3.9 million pelts, including international goods. The entire collection was snapped up at strong prices, attesting to the demand at the retail level, particularly in China.
Sandy Parker Reports
Volume 36, Issue 46
February 11, 2013
As expected, mink prices resumed their upward movement as the new auction season got into full swing at Kopenhagen Fur last week amid signs the trend is likely to continue at the sales elsewhere in the weeks ahead. Hong Kong/China, to no one’s surprise and with even greater representation than before, took the lead from the outset and set the pace virtually throughout the auction. Although this actually was Kopenhagen’s second sale of the season – the small December event intended mainly to meet the trade’s immediate needs – the buying now reflects planning for the year ahead.
The Chinese fur trade, aided by one of the coldest winters in that country’s history, has been enjoying a banner season and has been steadily expanding at all levels. There are no official figures but, according to sources close to that market, the past year has witnessed sizable increases in the ranks of manufacturers not only in the established production centers, but elsewhere in the country as well. Similarly, new retail operations have been blossoming out around the country to cater to the increased demand from a newly-monied population that now can afford what previous generations could not. And, while the bulk of China’s domestic fur business is still in hats, trimmings and inexpensive garments, there also is growing demand for jackets and coats of mink and other fine furs. That mink prices are still rising despite the recent increase in world production – and the emergence of China as the largest producer – can be attributed to its huge increase in consumption.
The steady expansion of its industry has been accompanied by an increased Chinese presence at the major auctions. Not only do they now occupy most of the seats in the salesroom, but there are said to be an increasing number of manufacturers and retailers doing their own bidding, rather than through dealers or brokers as they formerly did. Kopenhagen’s training programs apparently are bringing results.
As to how big China’s fur industry has already grown, there are no official government figures. According to data gathered by the China Leather Association, fur sales rose 22.4% from the previous year and are expected to reach 16.42 billion yuan ($2.64 billion U.S. at the current rate of exchange) in the next two years.
This week’s sale attracted almost 800 buyers, Kopenhagen reported, with Hong Kong/China accounting for about 500 and dominating throughout. The 5.7 million mink were all sold at prices as much as 14% over December levels in Danish kroner.
MONTREAL — It can be difficult to walk a city block in Montreal these days without coming across a coyote, lynx, fox or raccoon.
Fur seems to be everywhere, as vintage coats get rejigged into stylish hats or even ear muffs and brand name jackets feature it on their collars.
The renewed popularity may be welcome among manufacturers and fashion lovers, but it has some animal rights activists concerned.
“This is something we’ve noticed that we take very seriously,” Thurston Sayara of the Humane Society said of the craze for fur accessories.
People aren’t always aware their parkas or hats are outfitted with real fur, she said, or may believe it comes from the scraps of animals already used to make coats.
“They don’t realize that most animals are killed for it,” she said.
Still, what was once most common among the affluent and the elderly has caught on with a young, hip crowd. This winter, collars, hats and other fur accessories flew from the shelves as soon as the first snow flakes fell.
Stephanie Bingham, co-owner of the Montreal shop La Founderie, said the fur revival began five or six years ago and has really taken off in the last two.
The rise in popularity is hard to explain, Bingham said, but the fact that many people are using vintage fur eliminates the ethical problem.
“I think it’s easier to incorporate a little bit of fur in your wardrobe rather than wearing a full coat,” Bingham said.
Sayara said the Humane Society considers the fur industry “particularly cruel” because it sells a luxury product that is no longer necessary, since artificial replacements are just as hot on the market.
For its part, the fur industry argues it plays a role in controlling the population of some species.
Alan Herscovici of the Fur Council of Canada said the coyote, whose fur is often used to decorate caps, is superfluous in some parts of the country, to the point that it causes problems for livestock producers.
“There are some who do not like the idea that we’re going to trap or hunt,” he said, but “we need to make a certain amount of trappings to keep a balance with wildlife populations and nature in the ecosystem. ”
The vast majority of fur comes from fur farms, however.
Teresa Eloy, also with the Fur Council, argues that animals at fur farms have to be treated well in order for their fur to be beautiful and lush.
These arguments don’t convince Danielle Katz of the animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. She argues animals suffer and emphasizes that many celebrities refuse to wear fur for ethical reasons, hoping that their young fans will follow suit.
Many clients, however, are more concerned with appearance than where the fur comes from, Bingham said.
Noemie Archambault, a 20-year-old wearing a coat with a fur-lined hood at a bus stop, said she didn’t even check whether it was real before buying it. Turns out it’s made with raccoon fur.
“It definitely bothers me, but at the same time it’s good quality and it will stay nice for a long time and it’s warm,” she said.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
New regulations will protect the environment while supporting jobs and exports
New regulations introduced by the provincial government will ensure that lakes and watercourses are protected while allowing Nova Scotia mink farmers to respond to growing international demand for their products.
“Nova Scotia produces some of the finest mink in the world, and with the revival of fur in fashion and the emergence of important new markets in Russia and Asia, we expect continued strong growth over the coming years,” said Dan Mullen, president of the Nova Scotia Fur Breeders Association.
“These regulations will ensure that we will can continuing growing while protecting nature, which is as important to farmers as it is to anyone living in this beautiful province,” said Mullen
The new regulations announced by Agriculture Minister John MacDonell (January 11) will apply to farms with more than 100 mink or fox in their breeding herds. They establish procedures for the safe storage, treatment and disposal of manure, waste feed and carcasses. Some of the requirements include the development of a management plan by a professional engineer, surface water and soil monitoring, minimum distances for locating facilities away from property lines and water courses, and concrete pads for storing compost and solid manure.
“The new regulations will certainly involve additional responsibilities and costs for Nova Scotia mink farmers, but we fully support the need to ensure that we can continue growing without harming the environment,” said Mullen.
Fur farming is one of the fastest growing, rural-based industries in Nova Scotia, generating $140 million annually for the provincial economy and supporting more than 1,000 jobs. About one-half of the farmed mink produced in Canada are now raised in Nova Scotia.
For more information:
The European Court of Human Rights has banned the “Holocaust on Your Plate” campaign by the animal rights group PETA. The campaign compares Holocaust victims to animals slaughtered for the food industry. The campaign was launched in Germany over a decade ago, and immediately antagonized the Jewish community, which initiated legal actions against it.