Activists target Ronan (Montana) fur farm

by Jessica Stugelmayer
Lake County Leader


fraser-lynx4RONAN — A local fur farm was the target of vandalism from animal right’s advocates earlier this month, when masked suspects trespassed on the property and destroyed breeding records.

The Leader received several emails from animal rights groups, Bite Back and the Animal Liberation Front, who forwarded an anonymous claim that the vandalism was done by animal rights activists.

The claim states that early in the morning of March 7, activists entered the Fraser Fur Farm to get rid of the breeding records, a non-violent act “to ensure the loss of irreplaceable genetic lines, rendering the breeding stock of a given fur-producing business lost.”

The claim also states that to enter the compound the individuals had to bypass security measures set up to secure the farm from trespassers like motion lights and guard dogs. While they were able to destroy the records, the activists expressed regret that they had not been able to free the animals before they ran away into the dark when residents woke up.

“Our motives were borne of a fierce love for wildlife,” the claim read.

Lake County undersheriff Dan Yonkin confirmed the Sheriff’s Office is investigating vandalism and trespassing at the farm. He declined to comment further about the case, but added that attacks on fur farms are an issue of domestic terrorism and interstate trade, which fall under the jurisdiction of the FBI.

The claim said, “This act was meant not to inflict violence against those who profit from this business, or to instill fear and terror in a world already rife with such things. But simply as a gesture of solidarity and love toward those trapped in cages.”

However, that is not how the owners of the fur farm feel.

“I feel violated, like you’d feel if someone came into your home to rob it or destroy it,” Kathy Richwine said.

Kathy and her husband Corey raise bobcats on the farm east of Ronan. Kathy said they were not able to identify the trespassers because they were wearing all black and ski masks to hide their face, even when they popped up two feet in front of her.

“If we could find who they were, we would love to see them in jail,” she said.

Kathy said the farm has dealt with animal rights activists before.

“This isn’t our first rodeo,” she said. “This goes back to 2009.”

She said this is the third time her farm has been attacked and said this type of crime is not unusual for the animal rights movement. However, this is the first time groups have come with intentions to damage anything on her property.

“It’s just that we are living with it all the time. These aren’t just little crooks who come to steal,” she commented. “We’re trying to stay a step ahead of them.”

Kathy knows these are not local people. Their handiwork can be found on the Internet, where they take responsibility for acts all across the country.

“They are not nice people,” she said. “We are just one target out of thousands.”

The bobcats on the farm are not from the wild, she clarified. Kathy’s family got started in the business when she was 11 and now, more than 40 years later, the bobcats on the farm have lived in captivity for generations. They have been farmed for years and have no business being in the wild at this point, Kathy said, adding that the animals wouldn’t be able to fend for themselves if they had been set free.

Her family typically likes to keep a low profile, particularly because of conflicting opinions about the family’s fur business.

“There are different varieties of people with their own opinions on the matter. It’s fine, that’s why we live in America,” Kathy said.

She said her faith in the Lord and her belief that we humans are all made in the image of Christ is why she does not feel that what she does is wrong. God made animals for us to utilize, Kathy said. She feels these activists value animals and nature above human lives.

“You know I wish we lived in a society where we could cut timber and use our natural resources without encountering these types of people.”

Kathy knows that activists will be back — she’s hoping that next time officials will catch them.