The Animal Liberation Front, an underground animal rights group, has released an anonymous letter from a member claiming responsibility for releasing hundreds of mink on an Abbotsford mink farm at Lefeuvre and Downes Roads on Oct. 2, 2013.
The letter reads, in part:
"During the early hours of Wednesday, October 2, the Animal Liberation Front raided a mink farm near Lefeuvre and Downes Road in Abbotsford, about an hour from Vancouver.
"The entire perimeter fence at the back of the farm was cut before over 800 cages were opened to allow the mink a chance to escape to freedom.
"The surrounding ecosystem was ideal mink habitat, marshlands and dense forest where the animals made a swift escape."
The ALF press office told the Abbotsford News that such anonymous letters are acceptable as truth. ALF members work anonymously and often illegally to liberate animals in captivity the world over. They send notices of actions to the press office, which relays them to the wider world.
This would not be the first such incident in the Fraser Valley. An ALF member claimed responsibility for releasing 4,000 mink from an Aldergrove farm in 2008.
The ALF member who allegedly broke cages on the Abbotsford farm on Oct. 2 describes the conditions in severe terms:
"The cages the mink were locked in were full of feces and mostly rusted shut. Mink living in cages together had fought and plenty of the animals were covered in severe wounds. Some cages had dead animals, clearly left for weeks."
Mink farms fall under the Ministry of Agriculture jurisdiction. The B.C. Fur Farm Act requires that licensees "maintain in a sanitary condition the place where a fur bearing animal is kept, and observe any regulation on cleanliness."
However, the ministry does not routinely inspect mink farms.
"The ministry doesn’t conduct scheduled inspections but acts on complaints, and has not received any complaints about the quality of fencing or caging," confirmed ministry of agriculture spokesperson Robert Boelens by email. "There are no requirements to report escapes and the ministry has not received reports from any licensees. The ministry receives one or two isolated complaints about mink farms a year regarding odour or possible escapes of individual farmed mink threatening or attacking fowl."
Boelens added that in the Abbotsford/Aldergrove area, the ministry investigated a complaint regarding a possible escape in 2012, and two complaints regarding odour in 2011 and 2013.
The escape of Oct. 2 is the only incident that the Abbotsford police department has on file that relates directly to mink on farms. There have been three separate incidents of small fires on Abbotsford mink farms since 2008.
The B.C. mink fur farming industry is growing rapidly, and is centralized in Abbotsford and Aldergrove. There are currently 10 licenced mink farms in the area, out of a total of 14 in B.C.
The province is the third largest producer of mink fur pelts in Canada. In 2012, B.C. produced 342,800 pelts valued at over $30 million, according to Statistics Canada. That is double the value of pelts produced in 2010. Most of the pelts are for export.
The Abbotsford News has been unable to gain access to a local mink firstname.lastname@example.org twitter.com/alinakonevski