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Depending on who you
believe, William James Viehl is either Harriet Beecher Stowe or a terrorist.
U.S. District Court Judge Dee Benson voted for the latter and on Thursday
sentenced Viehl to two years in prison for releasing hundreds of minks from a
South Jordan farm.
"I don't know any better word for it than 'terror,'"
Benson said during a long explanation of his decision. "It's a form of
Viehl last year pleaded guilty to one count of damaging and
interfering with animal enterprises. On Aug. 19, 2008, Viehl helped release
about 425 female and 225 male minks from the farm. Vehicles hit and killed
seven, seven died of stress and 20 were never recovered, said the farm's owner,
Lindsey McMullin. Viehl and his co-defendant also are accused of removing
pedigree tags, forcing the McMullins to sell the females for their pelts rather
than breeding them.
The bandits also spray painted "ALF," for Animal
Liberation Front, on a barn and the words, "We are watching."
A report compiled by an animal-rights group, a how-to guide for carrying
out attacks against mink ranchers, targets several fur farms on the East
Side of Summit County. Author Peter Young claims the 62-page document
represents "the largest collection of fur industry intelligence to date."
The title of the booklet: "The Blueprint Fur Farm Intelligence Project:
The Full Report."
There are about 90 fur farms in Utah, according
to Young. His report lists addresses, telephone numbers and descriptions for
about 15 working mink ranches from Henefer to Oakley. Animal activists have
used tactics considered violent by some people to release captive mink,
which are bred for their fur for use in clothing items.
"'The Blueprint' is a little disturbing. Basically, what 'The Blueprint'
is, is a terrorist handbook," a mink rancher in Coalville told The Park
Record on Wednesday.