Ecoterrorism: B.C.’s wild history with eco-scares

gasmask.jpgWith recent scares on gas pipelines in British Columbia, terms like ecoterrorism and ecotage are popping up again. According to CSIS, as many as 2,000 moderate or extremist environmental organizations are estimated to be active in Canada. Far from the first event to disrupt oil production, or other practices deemed dubious by environmental extremists, this is one in a long line of activities to rock B.C.

Here are five B.C. eco-scares to remember:

Meat Truck Bombs
On December 11, 2000, incendiary devices were planted under three trucks at Ferry Meat Market, Vancouver. Only one device explodes, damaging a truck worth about $60,000. Activists claim that the location was chosen “because of its involvement with the barbaric meat trade that claims billions of lives yearly.”

Who claims guilt: Animal Liberation Front, a name used internationally for animal liberation activists.

Why it’s important: The act contained a larger threat: “All businesses large or small which participate in animal abusing industries will continue to be targeted…Let it be known to those with blood on their hands that we are watching,” activists warned in a statement. ALF has continued to be active in Canada, and around the world, through vandalism, raids and more incendiary devices.

Tree Spiking

treespikes.gifIn the early 80s the first tree spikes were used to halt logging practices. Spiking a tree involves placing a metal object within the tree which leads to a halt in harvesting or milling when the object is hit with a saw or other blade until machinery can be fixed or replaced. The practice can be dangerous to loggers if their chainsaw stalls or breaks when it makes contact with a spike.

Who takes the heat:
Earth First!, a radical environmental advocacy group who started the practice.

Why it’s important: It still goes on today. In February, 2000, 5- and 10-inch spikes were inserted into hundreds of trees in the Elaho Valley, north of Vancouver in an attempt to preserve grizzly bear habitat. In 2004, more than 100 spikes were found in logs by timber workers in Elk Creek, a controversial logging site east of Vancouver. Seemingly popular with activists, the practice is detailed, with instructions, in “Ecodefense: A Field Guide to Monkeywrenching,” written in 1985 by one of the Earth First! founders Dave Foreman. (photo from Omnipresence Collective)

Energy Target

Energy sources were targeted in 1982 as well. A bomb destroyed the nearly completed Cheekeye-Dunsmuir Hydro substation, opposed by locals residents on environmental grounds and the possible construction of nuclear power plants. The bomb, fashioned from hundreds of pounds of dynamite, caused $5 million in damages and stalled the project.

Who dunnit?: Direct Action, a Canadian group more popularly known as the Squamish Five.

Why it’s important: The first action of this group, and one of the first to step up anarchist activity in Canada at the time, led to a second bombing in Toronto which injured seven people and more bombings in Vancouver in 1983.

Mink farm raid

minkfarmraid.jpgAnimal activists broke into a mink farm in Aldergrove, BC, in August of 2008 and opened about 6,000 pens, allowing 500 mink to exit the guard fence (though most were recovered).

Responsible party: Animal Liberation Front

Why it’s important:
It is one of many. In fact, the same farm was targeted in 1995. 6,000 minks were released in Newfoundland in 2007 and 1,500 in Chatham, Ontario in 1999, among other instances in Canada and many in the US and Europe. Farmers warn that many mink die during the stress of the release and in Canada, many more can’t survive more frigid temperatures. (photo from Animal Liberation Front)

Seedling Attack

In an attack on genetically modified trees, a group hacked, lopped and generally maimed trees in a seed orchard run by B.C.’s Ministry of Forests Tree Improvement Branch. 1,600 test trees (identified as transgenic by their labels or tags) were destroyed under the cover of night. The autumn before this attack, about 3,000 seedlings were destroyed in a privately operated nursery on southern Vancouver Island.

The hackers: Ministry of Forest Defense, a local B.C. group that wonders why the Tree Improvement Branch would want to try and “improve” trees when they are perfect already.

Why it’s important: This action takes on a environmental threat that is a little harder to target or identify. The groups quotes government figures as a reason for the action: almost 10% of the new trees planted in Canada are from genetically engineered propagates.

So are the recent attacks really terrorism? Leave us a comment and let us know!

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