A group of Animal Rights Extremists has claimed responsibility for an attack on a Gifford ranch early Wednesday, destroying some ranch property and freeing more than 1,000 mink from their cages.
The attack happened early Wednesday morning at Miller's Mink Ranch, located on Addy Gifford Road, according to the "North American Animal Liberation Press Office."
"The fur industry is for fashion and for profit and these animals have the right to live free," Nicoal Sheen with the North American Animal Liberation Press Office said.
The persons involved, identifying themselves only as "Unnamed Activists," claimed to have opened three-quarters of the cages to set the mink free and destroyed breeding information cards.
"We chose to do this not because we believe that humans wearing fur is inherently wrong. Rather we think that the callous disrespect with which the fur industry treats the animals is despicable," the press release read.
The Stevens County Sheriff's Office reports that 99-percent of the mink have been recovered in the last day. Several of the mink were hit by cars and died after they were released. The sheriff's office said it had no further comment on their investigation into the attack. The owners of the ranch also declined an interview request.
Previous "economic sabotage" attacks according to the NAALPO include a recent arson fire that torched a Caldwell, Idaho fur and fireworks store in late September. They also claimed responsibility for letting 40,000 salmon free in San Francisco Bay and freeing 2,000 other mink in recent weeks.
"What these individuals did was brave, and I congratulate those individuals who risked their freedom and their lives for others," Sheen said.
The Anti-Defamation League notes that during the last two decades ecoterrorists and animal rights groups have claimed responsibility for hundreds of terrorist attacks, including arson, bombings and vandalism, causing more than $100 Million in damage.
According to FBI Counterterrorism Division member John E. Lewis, in a May 2004 statement before the Senate Judiciary Committee, ecoterrorists, such as the Animal Liberation Front and the Earth Liberation Front, "have become the most active criminal extremist elements in the United States."
KXLY4's Kylee Cruz contributed to this report