The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

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October 2, 2013

Activists or terrorists? | Group's release of mink is questioned

JOHNSTOWN — Terrorists. Miscreants. Cowards. Those are just some of the words that come to mind when describing the Animal Liberation Front.

On Sept. 24, the animal rights group decided to, under the cover of darkness, release about 600 mink at the George Rykola mink farm, located in the 500 block of Colver Road, Ebensburg. Rykola, 93, has been raising mink for about 30 years.

Along with releasing the animals, the group also denied an elderly businessman an opportunity to continue his livelihood.

“These people basically took his life away from him,” Cambria Township police Chief Mark Westrick told our Kathy Mellott.

Most people in the area didn’t even know it existed, said township Supervisor Buzzy Shook.

The FBI has been called to help in the investigation because the group’s action is a violation of the federal Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act, said Michael Whelan, executive director of the Fur Commission USA, a mink farm trade organization.

Although it bills itself as an animal rights group, what the Animal Liberation Front did was sentence the animals to certain death. These particular mink have been specifically developed for the fur industry. They haven’t the slightest clue how to find their own food or water, Whelan said. It would be the same as letting a gerbil or hamster fend for itself in the wilds of Pennsylvania.

“These are domestic animals,” Whelan told Mellott. “They can’t survive in the wild. Within 24 hours, they’ll die of starvation.”

Apparently the group picked this particular time of year to pull its dastardly act because winter is

the pelting season for mink farmers, and it could cause the most economic upheaval.

We believe there are right ways and wrong ways to approach a difference of the minds. The right way would be informational pickets or the distribution of handbills stating the group’s grievance with a particular individual or business. Or even a mediated meeting between the two sides.

The wrong way, which happened in Cambria Township, was an affront to decency and another human being, not to mention the mink.

We hope the scofflaws are soon found and fitting justice is meted out.

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