Animal rights group destroys fence, releases 500 birds in Bernardston

By DOMENIC POLI

Staff Writer

Published: 12-04-2023 3:33 PM

BERNARDSTON — Members of an extremist animal rights group have claimed responsibility for the destruction of fencing and release of approximately 500 birds at Fullflight Game Farm shortly after Thanksgiving.

People affiliated with the Animal Liberation Front cut and ripped away 10 sections of fencing on the evening of Nov. 24 to free “birds held captive at the facility,” according to an email forwarded to the Recorder from Joseph Buddenberg, a press officer with the North American Animal Liberation Press Office.

The email states the business purpose-breeds pheasants and other birds “to be sold for blood sports.” This, the email claims, means the animals are untamed and capable of surviving in the wild. 

“It’s up to us to free them from their prisons so that they may run, swim and fly free,” the email states.

It also noted the economic damage of destroying 100 feet of fencing.

According to a police report filed by Officer Darren Gale, he was dispatched to Fullflight Game Farm on Fox Hill Road at 8:16 a.m. on Nov. 25 to speak with owner Edwin Gray, who reported one of his pheasant enclosures had been vandalized overnight. Gale wrote that fencing had clearly been severed with wire cutters and the netting had been pulled away. Approximately 500 pheasants, estimated to be worth about $15 apiece, had escaped to a nearby brush. Gray reportedly told Gale the animals would likely return for food later in the day.

Buddenberg told the Recorder that the Animal Liberation Front, a decentralized international organization, aims to free animals “and also cause economic damage to those who harm animals” as a way of taking “the profit motive out of animal abuse.” He said the damage was significant but all claims emailed to him are anonymous.

Gray also owns Silvery Moon Farm at 4 Brattleboro Road. A woman working at the holiday tree and wreath farm said no one with the businesses had any comment for the newspaper. Attempts to reach the owners were unsuccessful. 

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Buddenberg said Animal Liberation Front members stand by their actions. 

“Those who oppress and abuse the innocent have no right,” he said, comparing livestock farmers to those who profit off slavery or child labor. “What these people did was an act of compassion, an act of nonviolence.”

Buddenberg is no stranger to taking radical measures, having pleaded guilty in 2016 to one count of conspiracy to violate the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act, a federal law that criminalizes “damaging or interfering with the operations of an animal enterprise.” He was sentenced to two years in prison and ordered to pay restitution of $423,477 with codefendant Nicole Kissane, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Prosecutors said Buddenberg and Kissane caused hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage and losses during a cross-country campaign against the fur industry that totaled 40,000 miles in the summer and fall of 2013.

Reach Domenic Poli at: dpoli@recorder.com or 413-930-4120.