- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 19, 2001

Urban sprawl means one thing to developers but quite another to self-described "radical" environmental groups who are taking "direct action" to stop it.
A group known as the Earth Liberation Front (ELF) has designated today as an international day of action when environmental activists join together and drain the resources of law enforcement authorities. This is being done in anticipation of Earth Day, which is this Sunday.
"Our Earth is being murdered by greedy corporate and personal interests," says ELF spokesman Craig Rosebraugh of Portland, Ore. "The rape of the Earth puts everyones life at risk due to global warming, ozone depletion and toxic chemicals. We are but the symptoms of a corrupt society on the brink of ecological collapse."
ELF has claimed responsibility for setting on fire four new luxury homes in Long Island, N.Y.s Mount Sinai neighborhood on Dec. 29. ELF claims the development endangered a large aquifer for drinking water. On the garage door to one of the homes, it scratched out the words: "If you build it, we will burn it. ELF."
This past February in eastern Virginias Westmoreland County, hundreds of steel spikes were driven into trees at the Rock Hill Lumber company. A company spokesman says it will cost the company an extra $30,000 to $40,000 for safety precautions when it runs the timber through the sawmill.
ELF claims to have inflicted over $37 million worth of damage since its inception, and the group promises to continue its efforts. Modeled after its cousin group, the Animal Liberation Front (ALF), ELF operates in cells of one to several people.
Cells are anonymous not only to the public but also to one another. This decentralized structure helps keep activists out of jail and free to continue their actions, much as the IRA or revolutionary Marxist groups operate overseas. There is no centralized headquarters or leadership tying the anonymous cells together, making it difficult for law enforcement officials to undertake a comprehensive investigation. Similarly, there is no official ELF "membership."
ALF, too, has become increasingly active in recent months in its campaign on behalf of animal rights. On April 1, 14 beagles were stolen from the laboratory of Huntingdon Life Sciences in East Millstone, N.J. On March 17, in Beaumont, Calif., 450 chickens were stolen from Sunny-Cal Eggs, following a similar theft in June of 200 chickens.
ALF has claimed responsibility for the thefts.
The FBI says ALF and ELF are among the most dangerous terrorist groups in the country.
As fire bombings and arson attacks have increased in frequency and seriousness, eco-terrorist attacks on fast-food restaurants, leather stores, medical research labs and fur industry facilities have become a high priority for federal, state and local law enforcement. FBI Director Louis J. Freeh told Congress in February 1999 that his agency is pursuing "single-issue terrorists" involved "in the violent animal rightsand environmental protection movements."
Mr. Rosebraugh says his groups immediate goal is to cause economic damage, such as its Oct. 19, 1998, arson attack on a Vail ski resort in Colorado that damaged or destroyed eight separate structures and resulted in approximately $12 million in property damage. ELF claimed responsibility for the arsons in retaliation for the resorts plans to expand its ski areas, which the group claims would have endangered a lynx habitat.
On April 5, agents from the FBI, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (BATF) and Oregon State Police raided the home and business of Mr. Rosebraugh and two of his associates. He was served with a subpoena to testify before a federal grand jury later this month for an investigation into an arson attack at a Eugene, Ore., car dealership that destroyed more than 30 sport utility vehicles. It is Mr. Rosebraughs seventh grand jury subpoena since 1997.
"Were hoping to find evidence of the crimes themselves," says Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen Peifer. "His objective is the support of these organizations. He supports terror."
Extremist animal rights and environmental groups have targeted not only property and businesses, but also individuals. Rock star Ted Nugent, president of United Sportsmen of America and a board member of the Nation Rifle Association, is on the "Most Wanted" posters of nearly every radical animal rights and environmentalist group. He and his family have been threatened with murder, rape and the destruction of their home for Mr. Nugents pro-hunting stance.
"Theres no doubt about it," Mr. Nugent says, "environmental groups are becoming more aggressive. They are committing flagrant acts of violence and seeking confrontation."
Named conservationist of the year in Michigan in 1999, Mr. Nugent founded a Kamp for Kids educational foundation to teach youth about the outdoors. He frequently is targeted by animal rights and environmental groups for his "kill it and grill it" attitude about nature.
"There are files in Michigan about threats to rape or kill me and my family because I eat meat," he says. "These people are destroying family farms, burning businesses and releasing minks and other livestock.
"I am proud to be their nemesis. Without the flesh carved from the carcasses of dead animals, a substantial percentage of the human race would perish in weeks," he adds.
Mr. Nugent says his 1,100-acre ranch in Jackson County, Mich., is just one example of an unprecedented success of nature conservation working hand-in-glove with outdoor activities like hunting, trapping and fishing.
"Its a pristine ecological heaven," he says.
Some say his property is one of the most perfectly balanced ecosystems in the state.
"Why? Because on the wild ground I own, I harvest the surplus fox, elk, bears, wild cats, coyotes ," Mr. Nugent says.
"I shoot the pheasants and the deer. Its called revering the full cycles of nature. Environmentalism is just part of the tooth, fang and claw in life."
As a spokesman for the fur lobby, Teresa Platt with Fur Commission USA has also seen the destruction caused by animal rights activists engaged in "domestic terrorism."
"Animal rights advocates do not distinguish between human beings and animals," she says. "In the words of PETA founder Ingrid Newkirk, 'The life of an ant and the life of my child should be accorded equal respect."
Besides an upsurge in animal rights violence, Miss Platt says that a tiny, but growing number of people are embracing vegetarianism or veganism, relying exclusively on plant-based food and plant-based and synthetic clothing.
"But with less than 3 percent of the Earths surface being suitable for crop production, animal protein and fiber will continue to be indispensable to the survival of the planets population and to the conservation of the natural habitat," Miss Platt says.
Mr. Nugent also criticizes prominent animal rights advocates, saying he favors "hands-on environmentalism."
"While Bridget Bardot is squawking from her hot tub about endangered elephants in Africa, Ive been trekking through the continent on safaris in Tanzania, Namibia and Botswana.
"And I can tell you firsthand, there are more elephants there today than a hundred years ago," he says.

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