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Iowa Mink & Fox Farm Raided, 1,200+ Mink Released

FBI investigating the release of over one thousand mink in Jewell, Iowa

Actual photo of caged fox on the Palmer Erickson fur farm

After initially sparse reports, the full story is in: Sometime Thursday night, 1,200 to 1,500 mink were liberated from a fur farm in Jewell, Iowa. The target is confirmed as Palmer Erickson’s fur farm at 3374 Saratoga Avenue, Jewell, IA.

According to various reports, four sheds at the west end of the property had cages opened. There is no report of any foxes being released.  The Animal Liberation Front has not yet claimed responsibility.

Iowa has had more fur farm raids than any other state, with this being the 9th recorded mink farm liberation. After 5 years of steady activity, there were no raids for eight straight years (2003 to 2011). This week’s raid broke a long run of peace for fur farmers in Iowa.

The fur industry response

The response from the Fur Commission USA has been somewhat subdued compared to previous raids. They are only offering a $5,000 reward for the capture of those responsible, down from $100,000 in past years.

A report from the FCUSA covers the fur farmer’s version of how the raid was discovered:

The attack was discovered when the family dogs started barking in the pre-dawn hours, apparently interrupting the raid, as evidence gathered at the site points to a hasty escape by the attackers.

The fur industry in Iowa

The current breakdown of the Iowa fur farming industry is:

17 mink farms (USDA statistics)

8 known fox farms (number confirmed or believed to be open as of 2009)

1 feed supplier (located in Jewell)

One of the fur farms – the Klingbeil Mink Farm in Remsen – is currently up for sale. A website has been set up to promote the sale of the farm: www.iowaminkfarmforsale.com

History of Iowa Animal Liberation Front fur farm raids

According to the list of fur farm raids, this is the third fur farm raided in Jewell, and the last known fur farm in Jewell that has not been raided. One – the Scott Nelson mink farm – was forced to shut down after the ALF raided it twice in one week. In addition to animal releases, the Hawkeye Mink Cooperative (a short distance from the Palmer Erickson farm) was broken into in 2003. Thousands of documents containing fur farm addresses and other info were confiscated in that raid.

Iowa fur farm raid list:

October 19th, 1997
Circle K Farm
Sioux City, Iowa
5,000 mink, 100 fox liberated

October 21st, 1997
Fassett Fur Farm
Webster City, Iowa
1 mink liberated

August 20th, 1998
Hidden Valley Fur Farm
Guttenburg, Iowa
330 foxes liberated
CLOSED.
(the farmer mentions two actions have occurred, only one action is known)

August 21st, 2008
Isebrand Fur Farm
Jewell, Iowa
3,000 mink liberated

September 7th, 2000
Drewelow & Sons Fur Farm
New Hampton, Iowa
14,000 mink liberated

October 16th, 2001
Scott Nelson Mink Ranch
Ellsworth, Iowa
2,000 mink liberated

October 20th, 2001
Scott Nelson Mink Ranch
Ellsworth, Iowa
1,600 recaptured mink re-liberated. Farm forced to close.

January 13, 2002
Hawkeye Mink Cooperative
1324 Main Street
Jewell, Iowa
Office break in, thousands of documents confiscated

August 18th, 2002
Misty Moonlight Mink Ranch
Waverly, Iowa
3,000 mink liberated

The Iowa mink industry is perhaps the hardest hit by the Animal Liberation Front. May there be more to come.

- Peter Young

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