Over the past half year, cars and buildings belonging to Wageningen UR and its staff have been damaged or defaced four times by activists from the Animal Liberation Front. Up to now, Wageningen UR has kept quiet about this, but following publications on the internet last Friday, a statement has been issued.
These acts have been claimed by the Animal Liberation Front on the websites www.animalrights.nl and http://directaction.info. The claims are sometimes accompanied by threats. Under the 9 March claim is the threat: ‘We want to see the university of Wageningen take action now! Do not wait for the big bomb! We don’t want to throw it, but you certainly don’t want to receive it.’
Only last Friday did the Executive Board make a statement, after publications by bloggers and questions from NOS News. Spokesman Simon Vink: ‘In general, we are never the first to publicize campaigns by others. We don’t do it in the case of a student demonstration either, for example. And in this case, experts on animal rights activism expressly advised us against external communication. These campaigns aim at destruction and intimidation. The safety of staff and students is our main concern. Children of colleagues of mine have asked them ‘Is that where you work?’ That’s not a nice feeling.’
Staff of units that could be targeted by these campaigns have been informed of the risks and the measures to be taken. The vandalism and threats have been reported to the police and security measures have been taken, such as installing CCTV cameras and stepping up surveillance.
Wageningen researchers use animals in education and in research into animal behaviour, animal nutrition, and human and animal diseases. In 2007 Wageningen UR carried out tests on twelve thousand animals, mainly fish, chickens and pigs. The number of animals used in Wageningen UR is actually decreasing fast: in 2004, there were still nineteen thousand. The number of animals used in tests is going down nationally too, from 633 thousand in 2004 to 597 thousand in 2007.