Activist group says it broke into Iowa fox farm

fbilogoThe FBI was looking into an attempt to release animals from a fox farm.

An animal rights activist group admitted to breaking into an eastern Iowa fox fur farm and trying to free about 30 foxes.

The group, Animal Liberation Front, said in a written release sent to news organizations that it had released 30 foxes from an Anamosa, Iowa, farm that raises foxes for fur.

But the owner of the farm said over the weekend that the group had only managed to destroy property, including stripping away much of the farm’s fencing. Most of the foxes stayed in their enclosures, Rob Roman said. Two that did leave were quickly returned.

Had the foxes escaped, it’s unlikely they would have survived in the wild, Roman said. The animals are domesticated and have been raised since birth on the farm.

“They would have been hit by a car or killed by dogs,” he told The Associated Press. “I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t even know how to eat in the wild.”

But Animal Liberation Front said in its release that farm-raised foxes can survive in the wild.

“Foxes are genetically wild,” the group’s release said. “There is a large and thriving wild fox population in Iowa.”

Jones County Sheriff Greg Graver said the break-in occurred early Sept. 26. Graver says while he’s sure the activist group is responsible, officials don’t have individual suspects.

“It’s extremely difficult to find these folks,” Graver said. “It’s pretty common for them to have someone from out-of-state come in and do these things.”

FBI investigators went to the farm following the vandalism, Roman said.

The FBI website says that it considers the Animal Liberation Front a domestic terrorist organization and describes it as a loosely-organized movement engaged in crimes such as vandalism and arson to damage businesses and intimidate their opponents.

The same group claimed responsibility for a 2004 break-in at a University of Iowa lab. Activists released hundreds of animals and destroyed years of research.