Wegmans Cruelty: An Unofficial Blog

This is an unofficial blog and informational archive related to the WEGMANSCRUELTY film and resulting campaign.

Please see that page for more information.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Animal-rights activist denies breaking into egg farm or intent to remove chickens

Associated Press Writer

May 3, 2006, 5:43 PM EDT

LYONS, N.Y. -- An animal-rights activist who surreptitiously videotaped the interior of an egg factory where chickens are kept in small wire cages denied Wednesday that he broke in or had any intention of removing any feeble birds.

"We wanted to document the conditions inside and produce a film about what we found," Adam Durand testified during his trial on burglary, petit larceny, criminal trespass and criminal mischief charges.

Fellow activists removed 11 hens during three nighttime visits to the egg farm in upstate New York in May and August 2004, Durand said, "because in every case they were sick or dying and there was just this feeling that they needed veterinary care."

If convicted of the most serious charge of third-degree burglary, a felony, Durand could get up to seven years in prison. Two friends who accompanied him to the farm operated by Rochester-based grocery store chain Wegmans pleaded guilty to reduced charges of trespassing and petit larceny, both misdemeanors.

The trio were arrested last summer when Durand, 26, a graphic designer and director of a consumer-advocacy group called Compassionate Consumers, produced a 27-minute documentary entitled "Wegmans Cruelty" that was screened at a Rochester movie house.

The film contains footage of hen corpses lying in battery cages with other live hens, a few that had fallen into deep manure pits running the length of the building or others with their heads apparently caught in the wire.

About 95 percent of the nation's eggs are produced at caged-hen egg farms, and Durand's group wants to alert the public to a practice it considers cruel and neglectful.

The 39-year-old Wegmans farm in Wolcott, 50 miles east of Rochester, is the biggest in New York state with 700,000 hens producing more than a half-million eggs a day.

Durand said he filmed the conditions in one shed containing about 80,000 hens, gaining access each time through a hole at a corner of the building. "We climbed right through this hole, that's all it took," he said, denying the prosecution's claim that his group cut and bent back security wiring.

On each visit, Durand maintained that the activists did not plan to bring out any hens. But they ended up removing 11 hens that appeared to be injured or badly infected in hopes of saving them, he said.

In his opening statement Tuesday, prosecutor Richard Healy read back grand jury testimony in which Durand described bringing along pillowcases, a cardboard box and cat carriers that were used to remove the chickens.

The shed that Durand entered is visited twice a day by an employee who checks on the chickens' welfare, said the farm's production manager, Andrew Jason Wadsworth.

Closing arguments were scheduled for Thursday.

Copyright 2006 Newsday Inc.

Reposted here, Buffalo News
Reposted here, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle


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