SAEN protests at ABX Global Headquarters!

On Thursday, September 18th, SAEN staff and local activists chanted at ABX Global Headquarters to demand that they not transport the shipment of 1400 monkeys to labs scheduled for that week,  and and to stop of ABX’s continued shipments of animals. To Increase pressure on ABX Air activists worldwide are preparing to protest DHL, an affiliate of ABX.


Much of SAEN’s work is concentrated on unearthing the abuse and corruption inside vivisection facilities within the U.S. which keeps us stationed at our office. Yet, another very important aspect of our work is to not have what we dig up just collect dust on our desks or languish in our filing cabinets, but instead we take it to the streets in the form of protests and other outreach events, to the media in the form of news conferences, and to conferences where we speak and table to educate activists on our work and techniques.

This October SAEN is hosting the Free the Animals Conference in Cincinnati, OH. This three day anti-vivisection conference will take place October 10th-12th followed by another demonstration with The Bunny Alliance at ABX Air on October 13th at 11am. Come Learn about effective action against animal experimentation and get involved in the global Gateway to Hell Campaign!

Goodbye to the Fight or Flight Tour, but this was only a beginning…

When we set out on the Fight or Flight Tour, we had a long list of tour dates before us and it seemed that it would be an endless summer on the road. We were planning to travel thousands of miles, visit cities from coast to coast and many in between, and host dozens of workshops and protests—and we had no idea what we were really getting into. Although we’d all traveled before, this time it was getting into a vehicle with people representing four different groups—The Bunny Alliance, Resistance Ecology, the Earth First! Journal, and the Civil Liberties Defense Center—without knowing how well we’d live and work together, or what our travels would bring.

But what at first seemed like a tour that would never end soon became a tour that we were not ready to leave. The Fight or Flight Tour pushed, changed, and brought us together. Before barely hitting the road, we found out that two of our close friends, Tyler Lang and Kevin Olliff, had been indicted under the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act for allegedly releasing animals from a fur farm. Tyler was supposed to be on the Fight or Flight Tour, and we had many rough moments of dealing with the weight of why he was no longer traveling with us. But ultimately we knew that Tyler and Kevin wanted the tour to happen and that none of us were going to let State repression stop us from continuing to fight. We committed to the tour and to each other, and we were touched by the outpouring of support we received from the grassroots community.

As tour progressed, we kept Tyler and Kevin close in our thoughts—and luckily had the chance to visit Kevin—and had an amazing summer of furthering the campaign to stop the transport of animals to labs; connecting with animal liberation activists, land defenders and resistance communities; and attempting to build solidarity along the way. We remembered a life beyond cities, where animals roam, trees grow, and stars shine. A remembrance of what we must be working in desperation to save. As we watched a lightning storm roll over occupied Lakota land that we had been welcomed onto, as we watched the sun set over the Book Cliffs in Utah, and as we slept under night skies brightened by the stars and moon, we were being held in the tangled beauty of the wild. The resistance—against capitalism, colonialism, borders, violent states and corporations that exploit the earth and its inhabitants—must be driven by this vision of a better world. We cannot let asphalt, roads, concrete buildings, prisons, or cages bury our vision for liberation and autonomy. We are not working to reform these oppressive structures. We do not advocate for assimilation. We must position ourselves against the devastating occupation of the land while demonstrating true solidarity with the animals, people, and communities under repression.

When it came time to actually say goodbye to tour, it felt like we had to say goodbye to everything we’d created and experienced during our time on the road. Our last protest was in Seattle at a Delta Cargo Office, and the protest felt bittersweet. Several police cars were at the office before we even arrived, cops filmed the protest, and three men in ties stood around taking our photos—all reminding us that the presence of State repression had followed us all the way through tour, but that we were still speaking out on behalf of animals. But even though it was our last protest of tour, we decided that the spirit of the Fight or Flight Tour cannot end, even if we had to say goodbye to this adventure.

To continue the effort of building a grassroots movement that connects animal rights activists with those working to defend the land and the wild, creating strength and solidarity in the face of State repression, and grounding our fight in passionate resistance—we are continuing to work together to develop a project that is inspired by the sparks of resistance that are already shining, and that will help that resistance to burn brighter.

Please continue to support all of the organizations that traveled on this tour and those that helped us along the way, and keep watch for what’s to come and be a part of it.

Thank you to all of the groups, communities, human and non-human animals, campaigns, and wild spaces that welcomed us and with whom we are fighting. You give us hope, and you turned a tour that we were all initially uncertain of into the start of something more inspiring than we could have imagined.

In solidarity and with resistance,

The Fight or Flight Tour — Amanda, Grayson, Jordan, Justin, and Suzanna

pre-tour at Forum - edited


Border trouble: Colonialism and repression on the unceded & occupied Coast Salish territories

The occupied territories of so-called British Columbia.

When charting our tour route through the Pacific Northwest, we knew for sure that we wanted to visit so-called Vancouver on the occupied and unceded territories of the Coast Salish. This is an area ripe with resistance. The First Nations in so-called British Columbia have largely never ceded their territory or entered into treaty negotiations with the settler state. In fact, the city of Vancouver recently formally declared itself to be on unceded territories of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations. These lands are home to extremely dynamic frontline communities of indigenous resistance. At Oppenheimer Park in so-called Vancouver, indigenous protesters have started a permanent camp and issued an eviction to settlers after the city attempted to evict the homeless population living there. In the northern territories, the Unist’ot’en Camp, a resistance community dedicated to defending the Wet’suwet’en lands from pipeline development and tar sands infrastructure, has evicted TransCanada. The Neskonlith band has issued an eviction to Imperial Metals after the Mount Polley mine disaster in the territories of the Secwepemc First Nation. The Red Chris mine, also owned by Imperial Metals and nearly operational, is currently being blockaded by the Tahltan First Nation. The Tahltan have also set up a blockade in opposition to settler moose hunting in their territory. Along the southern coast, the Central Coast First Nations Bear Working Group, a project of the Wuikinuxv, Heiltsuk, Kitasoo/Xai’xais, and Nuxalk Nations enacted a total ban on trophy hunting on their unceded and occupied territories. They have vowed to uphold it.

Pipeline resistance at the Unist’ot’en Camp

Settler movements in the territories are vibrant as well. Rising Tide Vancouver Coast Salish Territories is active in climate justice and solidarity work for the Unist’ot’en. Vancouver Animal Defense League has been running a very successful pressure campaigns against high-end fur retailers, Vancouver Aquarium, and the group recently blockaded the Calgary Stampede. These are the communities with whom we were intent on networking. We had a workshop scheduled at Spartacus Books and a day of protests that followed. We were excited.

Blockade of Calgary Stampede
Blockade of Calgary Stampede

We knew that attempting to cross the Canada-US border would not be easy. Since 9/11, the border has become increasingly more restrictive for migrants and asylum seekers, while simultaneously increasing the flow of free trade. Such racist, neoliberal polices are part of what No One Is Illegal organizer Harsha Walia calls border imperialism, and they are an extension of settler colonialism. The result is a border under heavy surveillance. It is notorious for harassment and detainment and has been used as a tool to chill activists attempting to cross. But given that we were only attempting to enter Canada for a workshop and simple protests, we expected nothing more than interrogation and possibly detention.

We were wrong. When we drove up to the border guard booth, we were immediately asked to pull our vehicle to the side and go inside the Canadian Border Services Agency office for questioning. After three hours of questioning into our personal and activist backgrounds, we were denied entry supposedly based on prior criminal history that made us “inadmissible” due to security concerns under Canadian immigration and customs law. CBSA agents can use individual discretion when determining who is and who is not a security threat and when to deem someone “inadmissible.” In our case, we were denied entry only after being questioned (to no avail) about our activity, histories, and our plans while in Vancouver. This whole process took about three hours. We then had to immediately head back over the US border at the Peace Arch Port of Entry and deal with US Customs and Border Protection, who detained us for an additional three hours. We sat in a cold, gray waiting room adorned in US flags wrapped with gold fringes while border patrol agents thoroughly searched our car and personal items. They were not forthcoming regarding why we were being detained, and when we asked why it took so long they responded, “one of you has a really common name so it took a long time to find you in the system.” As a point of clarification: none of us have common names.

The whole experience highlighted not only the absurdity of surveillance and repression for activists, it highlighted the problem of borders and the colonial function they serve. When attempting entry into Canada, we were literally told by a border agent, “It is an honorable thing to cross an international border,” as if to tell us in reality, “You have no rights here.” The land we attempted to cross are the occupied and unceded territories of the Coast Salish peoples and do not belong to either the Canadian or US governments. The border itself serves the purposes of maintaining racist, imperialist, occupying powers and policies. While in detention on both sides of the border, we were practically the only white settlers not in police uniform. We were some of the only people being detained that were not people of color. Constructing borders, both physical and relational, and frameworks of “legality” and “illegality” with respect to migration is a function of settler states. From our social positions it was a privilege to be attempting to cross at all, let alone for activist purposes, afforded to us through the colonial system.

This is why we wanted to come to the occupied territories of so-called Vancouver, BC. It is imperative that animal liberationists understand that the struggle for animals can directly be traced to colonial and capitalist roots. Solidarity with animals needs to extend to solidarity with communities and peoples that struggle under colonial occupation, ecological devastation, capitalist exploitation, and border imperialism. These are the fundamental barriers to animal liberation. Continued isolationism for our movement prevents us from seeing the connection. So while we were indeed denied entry, it strengthened our resolve to work in solidarity against the colonial-capitalist system and with the people and animals that suffer under it.

VADL protest
VADL protest

In spite of these setbacks, Vancouver Animal Defense League still held a demonstration in solidarity:

 “On August 20th, the Fight or Flight tour crew was denied entry into unceded Coast Salish Territories (so-called Vancouver, BC) by the colonial state of Canada, and the proposed workshops were unfortunately cancelled. In solidarity with The Bunny Alliance’s ongoing campaign against Delta Air Lines and Air France, activists with the Vancouver Animal Defense League carried through with the planned protests at the Vancouver International Airport the following day. Upon arrival at the airport, activists were met with at least a dozen cops, along with airport security and representatives, who were all expecting the protest. One of the cops told the protestors that they had heard about the crew who was detained and turned back at the border, and that the airport reps had corralled off a designated protest area. Not knowing where the designated area was, protestors entered the airport and headed towards Delta’s check-in booths, until airport reps and cops escorted them back out. For the next hour activists held signs at the protest area by the entrance, which had surprisingly high exposure to foot and car traffic. Quite a few passersby came up and took flyers, asked questions, and expressed support for the campaign.”

Moscow, Idaho: Fighting Fossil Fuel Infrastructure in the Northern Rockies

Lochsa_River_Keith_Ewing_IFG_FlickrNorthwestern Montana and Northern Idaho are renowned for the scenic drives that dissect wild landscape. So when leaving West Yellowstone to head for Moscow, Idaho, we were excited to travel the winding highways, passing through mountainous corridors, wild rivers, and densely-forested watersheds. Roads, even the scenic ones, are relatively few and far between in the region. In fact, the Northern Rockies serve as a refuge for the largest remaining tracts of roadless wilderness in the lower 48 states. So when Imperial Oil/Exxon Mobil, Conoco Phillips, Harvest Energy, and others decided to absorb this small road system into the infrastructure of fossil fuel extraction, this place became a main stage of resistance.


Megaloads, as they colloquially are called, are massive loads of equipment to be used in tar sands extraction or refinement. They can be longer than football fields and weigh around one million pounds. Hundreds of these megaloads have been hauled through the meandering highways of the Northern Rockies in occupied Nez Perce territories over the last several years, en route to the Athabasca Tar Sands. These pieces of equipment are usually modules of even more massive refinery or extraction machinery. These lands have become bottlenecks for the entire tar sands project and the megaloads serve as a lynchpin target for the fossil fuel industry.

Land defenders and activists have seized the moment. The campaign to stop the megaloads has been led by indigenous resisters Idle No More, Northern Rockies Rising Tide, and Wild Idaho Rising Tide. Recently, the campaign has also been taken up by the Umatilla and Wrm Springs tribes, Portland Rising Tide and Rising Tide Seattle. Last year, a federal judge ruled to halt shipments of megaloads through the U.S. Highway 12 corridor, upholding the Treaty rights of the Nez Perce.While a definite victory in the campaign, it has forced companies to develop a new route and industrial corridor: North on U.S. Highway 95 through Moscow, Idaho.


When we rolled into town on Monday, Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) had been working round the clock to respond to an Idaho Transportation Department announcement on Friday that Bigge Crane and Rigging Company would be hauling the largest megaload yet through the region. Within hours the Fight or Flight Tour joined Nez Perce land defenders and Wild Idaho Rising Tide in the streets of Moscow to protest the oncoming megaload, part of a hydrocracker involved in tripling tar sands production at the Montana Refining Company owned by Calumet Specialty Products Partners. This module alone measures 311 feet long, 21 feet wide, and 16 feet 8 inches high and weighs 926,000 pounds.


After joining the crowd in downtown, we were asked to scout the convoy and relay information on its position. We drove down the rural highway south out of Moscow. Within a few minutes we were driving alone in the dark, surrounded by still fields of wheat, dimly mega1lit by moonlight. Then we saw the bright, beaming lights on the horizon, creeping towards us along the rolling hills. As the convoy approached, we could begin to sense something ominous. But only when it was directly upon us could we see its enormity. Surrounded by flaggers, pilot vehicles, Idaho State Police, push and pull trucks, and trailers, the shipment convoy seemed at least ¼ mile long. It sluggishly crept towards us and towards the protesters in Moscow. As we circled it to take pictures, the police wasted no time and detained us along the side of the road. We watched it pass, proceeding to Moscow.

megaIn Moscow, the megaload was met by dozens of protesters, land defenders, and members of the Nez Perce tribe. The police swarmed the streets in huge numbers and stood along the side the roadway, declaring that no one could enter the streets. As the megaload passed, the police stood between it and us while the crowd chanted and shouted in resistance. As it left the streets of Moscow north, many protesters left to follow it towards its next stop. As of this writing, the protests continue…

copcop3The following day, Wild Idaho Rising Tide hosted our workshop at The Attic. Upon suggestion from our hosts, we decided to tailor this particular workshop for the very persistent and dedicated community in Moscow. We engaged attendees in a Strategic Direct Action training to discuss the basics of direct action, action planning and roles, soft blockades, technical blockades, and the legal system.

risingtideAfter the training, we discussed our future working relationship with Wild Idaho Rising Tide and networking in the Northwest. From the coast to the Northern Rockies, we can stop the megaload shipments. We can halt the equipment. We can stop the tar sands. We can put an end to fossil fuels infrastructure.

Entering Yellowstone: The Land, Wildlife, and Buffalo Field Campaign

We left the plateaus, canyons, and rugged mountains of Utah to travel north through the Rockies on the invite of the Buffalo Field Campaign. As we traversed the open meadows and cascading peaks of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem we could sense a transition into wilderness. The massive crags of the Grand Tetons rose eminently on the horizon, forests of lodgepole pine and quaking aspen surrounded us, and we entered the migration plains of the buffalo.


Over the years this has been an ecosystem of contention and controversy. After decades of systematic extermination at the behest of the settler ranching industry, gray wolves were nearly made extinct in the region. In 1995, against the hostility and opposition of the sport hunting and livestock-ranching communities, wolves were reintroduced into Yellowstone National Park and central Idaho in response to mounting scientific evidence of their biological and ecological significance. Since the late 19th century, European settlers have been slaughtering the buffalo to rid the Great Plains of any competition with the growing market of cattle grazing that was the staple agricultural system of colonization and domination of the land. Buffalo extermination also served the purpose of maintaining occupation on indigenous lands and forced assimilation into Euro-settler culture.


Today these colonizing attitudes still dominate the land. Wolves are misunderstood, scapegoated, and feared by settlers and have become the target of opportunity in recent years as the federal government has lifted protections. Similarly, the buffalo are condemned for competing with cattle for forage and subsequently harassed and slaughtered. Buffalo naturally migrate seasonally in search of sufficient forage. In winter the snowpack in the higher elevations of National Park makes foraging difficult and the buffalo historically have travelled to lower elevations, outside of the arbitrary park boundaries, in order to survive. It is here they are met with hazing, trapping, and systematic slaughter at the hands of the Montana Department of Livestock (DOL). Since 1985, almost 8,000 Yellowstone buffalo have been killed.


It is in this climate that Buffalo Field Campaign (BFC) found its roots. Formed as a coalition of native land defenders and settler-environmentalist allies, BFC is the only group working everyday in the field to defend the buffalo, their native historical range, and their ecological and spiritual significance. BFC uses tactics that range from patrolling, to documentation, to direct action.

March 2014 blockade of Stephens Creek bison trap, which sends animals to slaughter and government research facilities.

We arrived that evening on the shores of Hebgen Lake, where volunteers were building and maintaining cabins and yurts against the backdrop of the Northern Rockies. We swiftly left with a volunteer who eagerly wanted to show us the land that they defend. As we drove along rough forest roads, he spoke with reverence for the buffalo and the wildlife that thrive on the landscape. He spoke disdain for the settler culture that is destroying the land and the animals (both wild and domesticated). He spoke with devotion to their freedom.


After we explored the land and its stories, we headed back to camp to share a meal with BFC volunteers. We learned how they became involved in this work and they listened as we explained our tour and our backgrounds. They left to monitor and document the owls that surround the cabins and we turned in for the night. We feel asleep under a full moon, in the silence of the forests, prairies, and mountains. In this setting we were left to imagine the land prior to European settlement, domination and occupation, prior to animal agriculture, prior to trophy hunting and eco-tourism. In its place we could imagine balance and the ebb and flow of ecology, where indigenous peoples are not subjugated and can live in their traditions with the land, where cattle are not systemically transformed into commodities, where wolves are integral members of a complex food web, and where the buffalo can roam free.

bisonbullgeode001jpg-3183807_p9We would like to dedicate this post to Rosalie Little Thunder, who passed away the day before we arrived at the Buffalo Field Campaign camp. Rosalie was a Lakota leader and co-founded Buffalo Field Campaign (then Buffalo Nations) after witnessing buffalo slaughter first hand:

“Since I witnessed the 1996-97 slaughter, I have continued to be involved in the ongoing effort to stop the slaughter. Mike Mease and I collaborated and founded Buffalo Nations, whose mission was simply to protect the Yellowstone buffalo herd. Two strategies evolved and therefore, two projects also evolved. The immediate threats to the herd, demanding immediate action, was undertaken by Buffalo Field Campaign. The second strategy was to coordinate cultural approaches and seek tribal involvement.Buffalo Nations continued to function by its Lakota name, Tatanka Oyate.”


A memorial fund has been set up in her honor. Please contribute if you can by sending a check to:

Rosalie Little Thunder Memorial Fund
PO Box 1894 
Rapid City, SD 57709

The Fight or Flight Tour Protests Delta and Tar Sands Mining in Salt Lake City

While in Salt Lake City, we were excited to visit the Boing! Anarchist Collective space to host a workshop about our campaign against Delta, the tactics of corporate campaigns, and building solidarity between animal rights and other social justice movements. Members of Peaceful Uprising, UVU Animal Allies, No More Deaths, Salt Lake Dream Team, and Boing! helped to turn the workshop into a productive discussion about how to effectively organize mass movements while staying committed to not allowing oppressive behavior.


After the workshop we went to the Salt Lake City International Airport for a protest against Delta Air Lines for their involvement in the transport of animals to labs. We protested inside the Delta Terminal between ticketing and baggage claim, where all arriving and departing passengers could see us. Many of them took flyers, snapped photos, and told us how much they care about animals and support our work—and some passengers vowed to stop flying Delta as long as the airline supports animal torture. Several news stations covered the protest, including KUTV 2News, ABC 4, and Fox 13, and each interviewed one of the organizers of The Bunny Alliance about the campaign against Delta and the need for an end to animal research.


Our Salt Lake City stop also included meeting with members of the Utah Tar Sands Resistance to discuss their work to stop the first tar sands mine in the U.S. and bring more support from the animal rights movement. In addition to wanting to show long term solidarity with the Utah Tar Sands Resistance campaign, we wanted to do something to further the campaign while in Salt Lake City, so we decided to visit the neighborhood of a decision-maker directly involved with Utah tar sands mining: John Waller Andrews.

John W. Andrews at the Utah Tar Sands site.

John Waller Andrews is the Associate Director and General Counsel of the State of Utah School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration (SITLA), which recently leased 32,000 acres of wilderness in Uintah County to U.S. Oil Sands, a Canadian resource extraction company. John Andrews and other executives at SITLA claim that they are investing in tar sands “for the kids.” This messaging is intended to disguise SITLA’s never-ending quest for revenue through oil, gas, and mineral mining. In fact, SITLA contributes only 1% of the state’s annual $3 billion education budget. By using this public relations tactic, SITLA is able to maintain various devastating extraction projects while using children as shields. In reality, this project will threaten the health of future generations—poisoning the drinking water of millions, releasing increased rates of carbon dioxide, as well as destroying vital ecosystems and threatened species.

We went to the door of every house on John’s street to talk with his photoneighbors and pass out flyers about his dirty ties to tar sands mining. His neighbors were very nice and receptive and listened to our request that they talk with John about the dangers of tar sands mining to the community—and that he do his part to stop the destruction of the land, the poisoning of the water, and the extermination of the wild animals that call Utah’s eastern plateaus home.


After leafleting John’s neighborhood, we went to his house to see if he wanted to speak about his support of deadly resource extraction. Unfortunately, no one was home, so we decided to leave a box of flyers on his front porch, in case he wanted to hand them out himself.


We hope John realizes that people around the world—and even his next door neighbors—are concerned about the impact tar sands extraction will have on human health and the environment, and that resistance will not stop until the mining project is shut down for good.



Fight or Flight Tour at the Utah Tar Sands Mine: An Open Letter to Animal Rights Activists

photo-7On August 7th, the Fight or Flight Tour traveled up through the rocky plateaus of eastern Utah to spend some time with Utah Tar Sands Resistance, the group actively opposing the first tar sands mine in the United States. Tar sands extraction is among the most destructive resource extraction projects in the world, digging up the earth to extract oily sands that are millions of years premature of becoming oil, to be transported by truck or pipeline to special refinement facilities that release greenhouse gases at exponentially higher rates than traditional oil refineries. These are the occupied lands of the Ute people, and the mining site itself straddles the Uintah and Ouray reservations and poses threats to these watersheds. Though the tar sands mine in Alberta, Canada, has been wreaking havoc on the planet for years—and opposition to the project and subsequent pipelines has been a focus of the environmental movement recently—this Utah mine, owned by Canadian company US Oil Sands, is the first to break ground in the United States for extraction of this toxic substance.

Earlier this month, after the 2014 Utah Tar Sands Action Camp, activists locked down to equipment, halting construction on site for the entire day, and 21 activists were subsequently arrested. They are awaiting trial, and can use your support. Find out more, and stay up-to-date with the campaign, at

oil sands

The Utah Tar Sands Resistance camp is ongoing, and is prepared to defend the land from extraction for the long-haul. The Fight or Flight Tour is grateful for having been welcomed into their camp, for the stories they shared, and for their defense of the land from the darkest, dirtiest efforts of the capitalist system.

On a more personal note, over the last year I’ve had the chance to visit the tar sands mine site in Utah’s PR Springs twice, and the visits have helped to reshape how I think about what it means to be an activist working to help animals. These visits have also stirred a desire to encourage other animal rights activists to understand why we must care about what is happening in Utah, as well as other sites of earth destruction.

My first visit was last summer while doing a clerkship with the Civil Liberties Defense Center. I had the opportunity to assist with legal trainings at the Utah Tar Sands Action Camp and then act as legal observer during a lockdown action at the tar sands mine site in PR Springs. On the day of the action, we woke up and set out to the tar sands site in the darkness of the early morning, and the sun rose with us as we climbed the hills into PR Springs. My thoughts were first about making sure I was prepared to legal observe, but as the morning light revealed rolling canyons that met the sky at the horizon, my thoughts on legal observing shifted from making sure I was prepared with my hat and clipboard to being a part of a movement defending the life of this place from the devastation of tar sands mining.

I’ve been involved in animal rights activism for several years. I’ve passed out thousands of leaflets promoting veganism, tabled at hundreds of events for animal rights groups, organized many protests and other events… and somewhere along the way tended to stop thinking very much about how I found my love for animals as a child, a child who also loved the trees, rivers, stars, and clouds. Being out at the tar sands mine brought that back to me. On the plateaus of Utah where the mine is being prepared, I have seen antelope, deer, chipmunk, field mice and prairie dogs. And there are countless others that make the rocks of the canyons bristle with life, including bear, ground squirrels, vultures and hawks. As I first stood at the top of the mine site, looking out into the distance at the canyons and then close up at the earth that had been stripped for the tar sands, I saw that the relationship between defending the wild and fighting for animal liberation is endlessly intertwined—and that animal rights activists must stop unwinding the two. Tar sands mining destroys the animals along with the land. The mining pollutes the water on which animals rely, contributes to global warming that is destroying animals’ habitats around the world, and rips up the ground—and the animals, their food, and their shelter along with it—only to replace it with toxic pools of tar to be burned for more pollution, and to fuel more destruction.


Given the impact that being at the tar sands mine site had on me the first time—connecting me back with my roots as a lover and defender of animal life—I was excited to return to the tar sands mine site as a part of the Fight or Flight Tour. In doing this tour, one of our goals is to not only to bridge the gap between the animal rights and environmental movements, but to show that  the gap shouldn’t exist in the first place. I have had animal rights activists ask me why they should care about the tar sands mining, unable to see the connection between the impact of resource extraction and an animal rights movement that’s come to be largely defined by vegan consumerism, and I want every animal rights activist who questions why they should care about a piece of the earth being torn apart to stand on the edge of a tar sands mine, or a clearcut forest, and to think about what has been lost. On one side of these lines birds sing and critters scurry between trees; on the other side is silence and devastation.

Although I know that every animal rights activist will not stand over the tar sands mine at PR Springs, our visit as a part of the Fight or Flight Tour—done largely in furtherance of an animal liberation campaign—can hopefully push other animal rights activists to consider what kind of fight they are engaged in for the animals. An animal rights movement that praises giant corporations for offering vegan items but does not actively support the protection of wild nature and animal habitats is effectively perpetuating the corporate greed that leads to the devastation of the earth and ignoring a chance to save animals and the wilderness they deserve.

Many amazing activists are currently working to save the animals and the land at PR Springs—and beyond. As animal rights activists, we need to stand in solidarity. Please start by visiting the website of the Utah Tar Sands Resistance and learn about their campaign; the impact the tar sands industry has on the environment, animals, and the indigenous people; and how we can all—and must all—be a part of the fight.

For the earth and its animals!


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.