AR-News: WA Dairy Federation blames ELF for poisoned cows

jim robertson wolfcrest at
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 
planning attacks.

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,"

...full story:

It should not be believed that all beings exist for the sake of the 
existence of Man. -- Maimonides (Rabbi Moses ben Maimon  1135-1204)

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