Arlington senator targets ecoterrorism

  • By Jerry Cornfield and Yoshiaki Nohara / Herald Writers
  • Wednesday, January 26, 2005 9:00pm
  • Local NewsLocal news

OLYMPIA – State Sen. Val Stevens says the culprits who released thousands of minks from a Sultan farm in 2003 are ecoterrorists who should be locked up for longer sentences than other criminals.

For the second year, she has proposed legislation that creates a new crime of ecoterrorism carrying harsh sentences.

“We don’t have a law to protect us,” said Stevens, R-Arlington, who introduced Senate Bill 5314 last week.

But her bill might never be debated by her colleagues. It was sent Monday to the Senate Judiciary Committee, and the chairman, Sen. Adam Kline, D-Seattle, has not scheduled a hearing for it.

“It is in line to happen, but the number of bills before it makes that unlikely,” Kline said Wednesday. For the bill to have a chance at passage, the committee must approve it by March 2.

SB 5314 defines ecoterrorism as organized crime against the animal, farm or timber industries. Depending on the amount of damage, those arrested could be charged with a misdemeanor or a felony. Punishment ranges from a fine to up to 10 years in prison.

Stevens pushed an identical bill in 2004 without success.

Ecoterrorism as defined by the FBI is the use or threatened use of violence against innocent people or property by an environmentally oriented group for political reasons.

In 2002, the Legislature passed a bill sponsored by Rep. Kirk Pearson, R-Monroe, creating exceptional penalties for certain kinds of criminal sabotage. The law may be applied to ecoterrorism cases, but does not cover actions specifically against the timber and fur industries.

Attacks on the fur industry prompted Stevens’ bill.

Snohomish County has had seven mink farm break-ins in the last eight years, including the 2003 incident in which 10,000 minks were released from a farm near Sultan. The Animal Liberation Front claimed credit. No one has been arrested for that crime

“These people know what they are doing. They are very organized,” Stevens said.

Jerry Vlasik, press officer for the Animal Liberation movement in Los Angeles, blasted the proposed law as “an attempt to chill freedom of speech” with the threat of arrest for taking part in certain types of protest.

Activists in the underground Animal Liberation Front won’t be affected, he said, because they are committed enough to act regardless of the increased penalties. They view their actions to free animals from captivity as equivalent to the abolition movement of the 19th century to free slaves, he said.

“If you want to talk about terrorism, we can talk about terrorism suffered by these animals in their cages,” Vlasik said.

The Washington Farm Bureau backed Stevens’ bill last year and will do so again this year.

“Many of these ecoterrorist acts are staged against agricultural facilities and definitely impact our members,” Farm Bureau spokesman Dean Boyer said. “Too often, nobody is ever caught and punished for these acts. If they are caught, we need to be sure there is significant punishment so they won’t do it again.”

Reporter Jerry Cornfield: 360-352-8623 or jcornfield@

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Local News

Snohomish residents Barbara Bailey, right, and Beth Jarvis sit on a gate atop a levee on Bailey’s property on Monday, May 13, 2024, at Bailey Farm in Snohomish, Washington. Bailey is concerned the expansion of nearby Harvey Field Airport will lead to levee failures during future flood events due to a reduction of space for floodwater to safely go. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Harvey Field seeks to reroute runway in floodplain, faces new pushback

Snohomish farmers and neighbors worry the project will be disruptive and worsen flooding. Ownership advised people to “read the science.”

Grayson Huff, left, a 4th grader at Pinewood Elementary, peeks around his sign during the Marysville School District budget presentation on Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2023 in Marysville, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
State OKs Marysville plan with schools, jobs on chopping block

The revised plan would mean the loss of dozens of jobs and two schools — still to be identified — in a school district staring down a budget crunch.

IAM District 751 machinists join the picket line to support Boeing firefighters during their lockout from the company on Thursday, May 16, 2024, in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Amid lockout, Boeing, union firefighters return to bargaining table

The firefighters and the planemaker held limited negotiations this week: They plan to meet again Monday, but a lockout continues.

The Trestle’s junction with I-5 is under evaluation (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Here’s your chance to give feedback on the US 2 trestle and its future

Often feel overwhelmed, vulnerable and on shaky ground? So is the trestle. A new $17 million study seeks solutions for the route east of Everett.

John Pederson lifts a flag in the air while himself and other maintenance crew set up flags for Memorial Day at Floral Hills Cemetery on Friday, May 24, 2024 in Lynnwood, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Volunteers place thousands of flags by veterans’ graves in Lynnwood

Ahead of Memorial Day, local veterans ensure fellow military service members are never forgotten.

Brian Hennessy leads a demonstration of equipment used in fire training at the Maritime Institute in Everett, Washington on Wednesday, May 22, 2024. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
‘Ready to go full sail’: Maritime Institute embarks at Port of Everett

The training facility offers Coast Guard-certified courses for recreational boaters and commerical vessel operators.

George Beard poses for a photo outside of the the Stanwood Library in Stanwood, Washington on Wednesday, May 8, 2024.  (Annie Barker / The Herald)
From sick to the streets: How an illness left a Stanwood man homeless

Medical bills wiped out George Beard’s savings. Left to heal in his car, he got sicker. Now, he’s desperate for housing. It could take years.

Logo for news use featuring Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
Lawsuit says Snohomish County deputies not justified in Sultan shooting

Two deputies repeatedly shot an unarmed Sultan man last year, body camera video shows. An internal investigation is pending.

An airplane is parked at Gate M9 on Tuesday, May 21, 2024 at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago, Illinois. (Jordan Hansen/The Herald)
Good luck to Memorial Day travelers: If you’re like me, you’ll need it

I spent a night in the Chicago airport. I wouldn’t recommend it — but with flight delays near an all-time high, you might want to pack a pillow.

Editorial cartoons for Friday, May 24

A sketchy look at the news of the day.… Continue reading

Cascade’s Mia Walker, right, cries and hugs teammate Allison Gehrig after beating Gig Harbor on Thursday, May 23, 2024 in Lacey, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Seniors Wilson, Tripp power Cascade softball past Gig Harbor

The pair combined for three homers as the Bruins won the Class 3A state softball opening-round game.

The original Mountlake Terrace City Council, Patricia Neibel bottom right, with city attorney, sign incorporation ordinance in 1954. (Photo provided by the City of Mountlake Terrace)
Patricia Neibel, last inaugural MLT council member, dies at 97

The first woman on the council lived by the motto, “Why not me?” — on the council, at a sheriff’s office in Florida, or at a leper colony in Thailand.

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.