SyndiGate Media Inc.
Two animal rights activists were arrested by federal agents on Friday for allegedly
embarking on a cross-country mink-liberating crusade two years ago, authorities
Joseph Buddenberg, 31, and Nicole Kissane, 28, both of Oakland, Calif., were
arrested by the FBI and now face charges of violating the U.S. Animal Enterprise
Terrorism Act — a 2006 federal law that prohibits any person from acting in an illegal manner “for the purpose of damaging or interfering with the operations of an animal enterprise.”
According to investigators, Buddenberg and Kissane mounted a 40,000-mile venture
aimed at releasing captive minks being raised at farms nationwide. Authorities said
the pair also vandalized animal-related businesses.
A San Diego grand jury charged Buddenberg and Kissane Wednesday and the
indictment was unsealed following their arrests Friday. Each made their initial court
appearance later in the afternoon.
Federal investigators said between June and December 2013, the pair succeeded in
releasing more than 5,000 minks destined to become fur coats. The farms were
located in Idaho, Iowa, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Minnesota. They also allegedly
released a bobcat from a fur farm in Montana.
“Whatever your feelings about the fur industry, there are legal ways to make your
opinions known,” U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy said in a statement.
Court documents reportedly detailed one instance in which Buddenberg and Kissane
allegedly drove down the West Coast and used paint, glue and even acid to
vandalize Furs by Graf in San Diego. The FBI said the pair also damaged the homes
of the store’s current and former owner.
Prosecutors say they also broke the windows at a Bay Area market, slashed the tires
of a San Francisco meat wagon, glued shut the locks at a fur business in
Minneapolis and attempted to flood the Wisconsin home of a fur auction employee.
Along the way, officials say, they stopped using their cellphones and used encrypted
emails to elude capture — and communicated with extreme animal rights groups
“The conduct alleged here, sneaking around at night, stealing property and
vandalizing homes and businesses — with acid, glue, and chemicals — is a form of
domestic terrorism and can’t be permitted to continue,” Duffy added.
If convicted on the animal terrorism charges, Buddenberg and Kissane could each
spend up to 10 years in federal prison and be on the hook for $250,000 in fines.