Internal fur industry document on all suspicious activity reported by fur farmers in 1998.
Part nineteen in a thirty-article series this month on the ALF’s fur farm campaign.
Sometime in the early 2000s, a document quietly began to circulate among activists who had done anti-fur work in the 1990s: a detailed timeline distributed to fur farmers by the Fur Commission listing every suspicious incident reported for the years 1998 and 1999. (I was never told how it was obtained, and I never asked.)
I’ve held onto this document for over ten years, and have decided to post it in full in two parts. The first is below.
What is the “Incidents Report”?
As part of it’s work to prevent Animal Liberation Front attacks, the Fur Commission encourages all its members to report any suspicious activity at their farms for inclusion in the “Incident Report.” The document is updated annually and distributed to both farmers and law enforcement.
The Incidents Report began in mid-1998 in response to an incredible 21 ALF fur farm raids the previous year. In an effort to build communication among farmers, detect patterns, and provide law enforcement with detailed data on possible fur farm raiders, the “Incidents Report” was born.
What is a “suspicious incident”?
Reading this document, it appears that when you’re a fur farmer, even the mailman is “suspicious.”
Most entries in this document fall into these categories:
The majority of reports describe vehicles seen near fur farms. The Fur Commission runs license plates, and lists the registered owners of the vehicles in most instances (I have redacted this information to protect people’s privacy.)
Of note is the number of “suspicious” vehicles that were found to have stolen plates. It is hard to know if this is just more fur farmer paranoia manipulating the data, or if there were people scouting farms with stolen license plates to conceal their identity.
You can’t make this up. Somehow, fur farmers adopted the belief that the ALF uses airplanes to surveil fur farms. This is absurd on a few levels, chief among them that there is nothing you could see from the air that couldn’t be determined more accurately from the ground. As though navigating a row of backyard sheds required such elaborate surveillance. More than anything, this belief in “surveillance by airplane” highlights how hopelessly out of touch fur farmers are, even at the senior level of the Fur Commission (Teresa Platt was a propagator of the “plane theory”).
Phone calls & emails
Even prank calls and emails are given clout as “security threats” in the Incident Report. Emails and instant messages are copied in full.
A couple of items from this category are mildly interesting, such as what appears to be a social engineering attempt to determine the address of a Central City, Nebraska mink farm by using a 911 dispatcher pretext.
These include tripped alarms, and trespassers chased from farms. Most of the incidents listed were not reported outside this document, and include security guards chasing trespassers from farms. In one case, an armed guard actually fired shots into the air to scare off intruders. (One note: Guards are extremely rare, and are only encouraged by the Fur Commission during pelting season).
1998 saw 11 fur farm actions, all of which are reported in this document. While fur farmers appear to be vigilant enough to take down tail numbers off low flying planes, they seem to fail at actually detecting ALF raiders in their backyards.
The entries mentions some small details about ALF actions that I don’t believe were made public, such as one ferret that went uncaptured after a raid at United Vaccines in Wisconsin.
A rare glimpse into the fur farming world, uncensored
This document should be appreciated on a few levels, one being that this is a raw look at fur farmers “talking amongst themselves,” in a document they never thought would be seen outside their circle. The reports of planes, passing cars full of “straight edge types,” and more all paint a picture of very ignorant, disconnected people staring down their impending demise by way of a threat they can’t see or understand.
Next week, I will post the second installment: The “Incident Report” for 1999.
This is the nineteenth of 30 articles I will be posting in December on the ALF’s fur farm campaign. Sign up for the email list to get every update sent to your inbox, or check back daily.
(Click the link below to download the PDF)