Target of Animal Rights Activists Becomes a Target for Explosives


DATE: May 10, 2002

BACKGROUND: On May 3, 2002, an explosion damaged a truck at Sims Poultry Inc., a poultry plant outside of Bloomington, Indiana. Witnesses saw what appeared to be homemade incendiary devices being pulled out from under the truck, according to the Herald Times of Bloomington, Indiana. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms is currently investigating what they call a deliberate attack. The poultry company, which distributes chicken wholesale to businesses and Indiana University student groups, had been the target of animal rights groups in the past.1 Some extreme animal rights organizations have committed many acts of terrorism over the years and caused millions of dollars of damage. Luckily, these attacks have not yet resulted in loss of human life.

TEN SECOND RESPONSE: Americans should denounce the violent tactics used by some animal rights groups. It is only a matter of time until these cowardly acts hurt or kill someone.

THIRTY SECOND RESPONSE: Acts of violence in the name of religion are strongly condemned in our society and acts of violence in the name of animal rights should be as well. The Earth Liberation Front (ELF) is an animal rights organization, which the FBI has labeled as "the largest and most active U.S.-based terrorist group."2 However, few arrests have been made for these crimes.3

DISCUSSION: According to the Wall Street Journal, the ELF has caused more than $43 million in damage in 600 acts of violence since 1996.4

The U.S. Congress is taking steps toward increasing penalties for these acts of terrorism. Representative George Nethercutt (R-WA) introduced a bill that would provide a minimum five years prison sentence for eco-terrorist arson attacks, and it would allow prosecutors to seek the death penalty should anyone die in such attacks.

U.S. Representative and Western Caucus Chairman Richard Pombo (R-CA) put it well, saying, "The cause that a terrorist takes up, whether it is an environmental jihad or a religious one, does not change the buildings they blow up or the people's lives they destroy."5

by Chris Burger, Program Coordinator
John P. McGovern, MD Center for Environmental and Regulatory Affairs
The National Center for Public Policy Research

Contact the author at: 202-507-6398 or
The National Center for Public Policy Research
777 N. Capitol St. NE Suite 803
Washington, D.C. 20001



1 Bethany Swaby, "Truck firebombed at poultry company," The Herald-Times, May 4, 2002, downloaded from on May 6, 2002.
2 Stefan Friedman, "The PETA-ELF connection," New York Post, March 7, 2002, downloaded on March 7, 2002.
3 Scott Sunde and Paul Shukovsky, "Elusive radicals escalate attacks in nature's name," The Seattle Post Intelligencer, June 18, 2001, downloaded from on February 25, 2002.
4 Collin Levey, "Terrorist buds," The Wall Street Journal, February 14, 2002, downloaded from on February 20, 2002.
5 United States House of Representatives Western Caucus, "Western Caucus Leaders Condemn Eco-Terrorism, Call for Crackdown on Purveyors of Criminal Environmental Activity," Press Release, February 12, 2002.