Fall 2005 Sees Surge in Direct Action for Animals
from No Compromise Issue 26

This fall saw a dramatic increase in direct action in the United States, with over 58% of the year’s actions occurring between August and December, at a rate of more than one action every week. As is usual with these sorts of actions, the vast majority of them were taken in support of above-ground campaigns. And as has been the case since the inception of the campaign against Huntingdon Life Sciences in the U.S., HLS targets accounted for the bulk (almost 40%) of actions.

Actions against HLS targets sent a message to those doing business with the company that their complicity in animal abuse of animals won’t be tolerated. Three market makers who began trading HLS stock (LSRI) were targeted during these months, and all three quickly severed all ties with Huntingdon Life Sciences.

The most heavily-hit HLS target in the United States this fall was Forest Labs. Forest Labs, best known for marketing the anti-depressant drug Celexa for treating, among other things, “Compulsive Shopping Disorder,” is being targeted for contracting with HLS to do toxicity tests on animals.

Actions against HLS prime players also continued this fall with a visit to the California home of HLS’ CEO, Andrew Baker. That visit left Baker’s home covered in spray-painted slogans, as well as smoke billowing out the front door. This was the second reported strike on the house this year.

Underground actions in support of the “Stop the Killing Campaign” campaign (www.StopTheKilling.net) in Los Angeles by the Animal Defense League accounted for an impressive number of actions as well (14%). The campaign uses hard-hitting tactics to target Los Angeles Animal Services (L.A.A.S.) in an effort to reform the service and stop their senseless killing of dogs, cats, rabbits and other animals. While the number of actions does not seem that large when compared to those taken in support of the HLS campaign, the fact that the campaign is focused on just one city makes this quite impressive.

Even actions that were not tied to pre-existing campaigns were quite effective. Two actions that particularly stand out in this regard are the A.L.F.’s destruction of a 500-seat cockfighting arena in Louisiana and a raid on the University of Iowa’s vivisection lab. Several other acts of economic sabotage occurred around the country this fall, targeting stores involved in the meat industry (McDonald’s and KFC) and the sale of fur (in New Orleans and New York).

As the year comes to an end, we look back and find that direct action for animals in the United States was up by close to 30% in 2004, as compared to 2003. Worldwide, Biteback magazine reports that 17,262 animals were liberated in 2004, and there were over 554 acts of economic sabotage. The upward trend in direct action in the United States is expected to extend into the new year, as this is a critical year for the campaign against HLS.

Already in the first few weeks of 2005 we have seen multiple actions against HLS customers, a targeted strike against Florida furrier Madame de Elegance, and the release of a herd of deer being raised for venison in California. The release of the deer by the Animal Liberation Front was particularly notable, as this is the first action of this type reported in the United States.

About a dozen deer farms operate throughout California, with herd sizes ranging from 10 to 2,000 fallow deer (a non-native species). An estimated 50,000 deer are imprisoned on farms throughout the United States. The male deer are typically slaughtered while just one or two years old. Their carcasses are sold as venison and can fetch as much as $2,500 per animal.

The A.L.F. targeted the GNK Deer Farm (65801 Big Sandy Rd; 805-467-3705) outside of San Miguel, California in southern Monterey County. In the early morning hours of January 18th, A.L.F. members cut through and removed over a quarter of the fence enclosing an area of two acres, allowing the deer to escape to the mountainous countryside and to have a fighting chance at survival.

When farm owner Gerd Konieczny returned, he found the entire herd of deer gone. Deputies reported the release of 34 deer and the cutting away of a full five hundred feet of fencing. According to a local news article, Konieczny is now planning to go out of business as soon as he can sell off the remainder of the current herd he was able to recapture. Chalk up another victory for the Animal Liberation Front!

While it’s still too early to predict just how many actions there may be in 2005, if we use the first few weeks of the year as an indicator, we are on pace for over a hundred reported direct actions for animals in the coming year. Considering that a substantial number of actions are never reported, the coming year looks to be a bad one for animal- abuse businesses - especially for those who have ties to Huntingdon Life Sciences.

For a full list of actions, please visit www.directaction.info