KAYSVILLE — An animal rights activist who served two years in federal prison for releasing thousands of minks from fur farms in three states is pledging money to support anyone arrested in the release of 6,000 minks from a farm here.

Peter Young is pledging $2,500 for the legal defense of anyone arrested in the Sept. 21 release of the minks from the Lodder Mink Farm. The Animal Liberation Front has claimed responsibility, saying three of its "soldiers" were behind the raid.

"The activists behind this are being demonized and I don't think people realize why they're taking these actions," Young told the Deseret News on Monday. "There are people that think what's happening at fur farms is atrocious."

The ALF is a loosely organized collective of activists, making it difficult for authorities to pinpoint who organizes or carries out its activities. The FBI has branded the group a domestic terrorist organization.

Young served two years in federal prison after he was arrested in 2005 for releasing about 8,000 minks from farms in South Dakota, Iowa and Wisconsin. He said he is "retired," but came to Utah to lend support to local animal rights activists who he said have been "harassed" by FBI agents in recent days.

"I think the ALF is the ultimate counter-terrorist organization," he said. "They're the only ones fighting the real terrorism which is what's happening on these farms. You can see terror in these animals' eyes. What these activists are doing is an attempt to stop that. These farmers make a living off of killing animals."

The FBI said it continues to investigate the mink farm vandalism, where cages and fences were cut open to release the animals. The ALF said breeding records were destroyed and trucks and equipment were vandalized by its activists. Most of the minks were rounded up, Davis County sheriff's deputies said. The ALF has also claimed responsibility for the August release of thousands of minks from a South Jordan farm.

In contrast to Young's offer, the industry group Fur Commission USA is offering a $100,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of whoever is responsible.

E-mail: bwinslow@desnews.com