Graduate student sentenced in 2006 ferret farm “liberation”


A University of Minnesota graduate student was sentenced to six months in prison Monday for raiding a ferret farm in 2006.

Scott DeMuth, a teaching assistant in the sociology department, pleaded guilty last year for conspiring to commit animal enterprise terrorism for releasing dozens of breeding ferrets during the break-in at Lakeside Ferrets Inc. in Howard Lake, Minn.

As part of his plea bargain, prosecutors dropped charges that he was connected to a 2004 University of Iowa laboratory break-in that resulted in the release of thousands of test mice and rats.

Evidence linking DeMuth, 23, to the break-ins was found during a search of an apartment he shared with other activists protesting the 2008 Republican National Convention in St. Paul.

The Animal Liberation Front claimed responsibility for both incidents on its website. The FBI considers the group a domestic terrorist group.

Jerry Vlasak, a spokesman for the North American Animal Liberation Press Office, said though DeMuth will be incarcerated, he will likely inspire other activists.

For many, jail time is not a deterrent for “liberating” animals from businesses and labs, Vlasak said.

People who release animals from farms, breeding facilities and labs can be charged under the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act of 2006, which prohibits the use of force, violence or threats to interfere with organizations that use or sell animals or animal products.

Still, Vlasak said force is considered one of the most effective methods for carrying out the group’s objectives.

“Many farms that have raised animals for their pelts have closed and never re-open,” he said. “There is certainly a very big financial impact on those who profit from this horrendous industry.”