AR-News: WA Dairy Federation blames ELF for poisoned cows
wolfcrest at hotmail.com
Wed Jun 23 13:00:42 EDT 2004
Wednesday, June 23, 2004 - Page updated at 12:00 A.M.
Investigating the what and why in dead-cows case
By Maureen O'Hagan
Seattle Times staff reporter
Two weeks after a mysterious substance killed three of his dairy cows and
sickened seven others, John Koopman has a growing lagoon on the back acres
of his Enumclaw farm, filled not with crisp blue water but with thousands of
gallons of raw milk.
He had to dump everything his herd produced one day, and he'll continue to
waste milk from ailing cows until somebody figures out what happened.
For now, an alphabet soup of local, state and federal agencies is working on
figuring who crept into his barn during the predawn darkness on June 5 or 6
and splashed the cows with a sticky red substance that apparently sickened
Scientists, meanwhile, continue to test the cows' tissue and milk, hoping to
identify the poison.
Patrick Adams, the special agent in charge of the Seattle office of the FBI,
said evidence gathered so far does not indicate any obvious tie to domestic
or international terrorism.
"Right now, we're looking at former employees or anyone else who might have
had a grudge," he said.
There was speculation that the incident may be connected with a bitter labor
dispute involving WestFarm Foods, the marketing arm of the Northwest Dairy
Association farmers cooperative, that was resolved in May. Koopman is one of
about a dozen volunteer members of the association's board.
In early May, before the compromise was reached, vandals opened the valves
on two tankers that were hauling raw milk for WestFarm. Almost 120,000
pounds of milk were lost. The vandals also punctured the tires on the tanker
But Lee Keller, a spokeswoman for WestFarm Foods, said the company is
"definitely not connecting" the union to the incident last month. As for the
most recent attack, she said it's too early to speculate about who's
"Frankly, I would be very surprised" if the dead cows are connected to the
labor dispute, said Jay Gordon, executive director of the Washington State
Dairy Federation, an industry lobbying group.
He is more inclined to believe it was the work of a group like the Earth
Liberation Front, or ELF, an extremist group that targets what it sees as
environmental destruction. The federal government sent out a nationwide
alert earlier this month to warn farmers and other groups that ELF may be
A few miles from Koopman's farm, three signs advertising land for sale were
vandalized recently. The vandals spray-painted over the real-estate agent's
name and phone number, and on one sign included the tag "ELF."
Adams of the FBI said the incident goes against the known motives of alleged
domestic terrorist groups. "For one thing, they generally don't harm
animals. It would not make sense,"
It should not be believed that all beings exist for the sake of the
existence of Man. -- Maimonides (Rabbi Moses ben Maimon 1135-1204)
More information about the AR-News