By Marty Graham
SAN DIEGO (Reuters) - Two California animal rights activists were arrested on Friday over accusations that since 2013 they had wandered the country vandalizing stores and homes and releasing minks and other animals as part of an anti-fur campaign.
Joseph Buddenberg, 31, and Nicole Kissane, 28, are charged in a six-page indictment with conspiracy to violate the Animal Enterprise Anti-Terrorism Act, in connection with a spree of vandalism of homes, vehicles, shops and farms tied to the meat and fur industries, federal authorities said.
According to the indictment, which was unsealed in federal court in San Diego on Friday, they did more than $100,000 worth of damage while they traveled 40,000 miles (64,000 km) across to Pennsylvania, Oregon, and a half dozen other states in their Honda Fit.
The pair allegedly posted manifestos about their exploits on animal rights websites while they were traveling, the indictment alleges.
Buddenberg and Kissane are accused of vandalizing a San Diego furrier and the homes and property of people connected to the store, releasing a bobcat in Montana, and slashing tires and gluing locks that belonged to fur and meat businesses in San Francisco, according to the indictment.
They are also accused of releasing nearly 6,000 mink from fur ranches in Idaho, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Iowa.
U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of California Laura Duffy said: "Whatever your feelings about the fur industry, there are legal ways to make your opinions known," Duffy said.
"The conduct alleged here, sneaking around at night, stealing property and vandalizing homes and businesses with acid, glue, and chemicals, is a form of domestic terrorism and can’t be permitted to continue," she said
Buddenberg and Kissane were arrested in Oakland on Friday and federal prosecutors say they will send the pair to San Diego for trial.
If convicted, they face maximum sentences of 10 years in prison and fines up to $250,000.
(Reporting by Marty Graham in San Diego; Editing by Dan Whitcomb and Mohammad Zargham)