From cockfighting and dog fighting to puppy mills, from medical and cosmetics testing on animals to the harvesting of old-timber trees, there are legitimate and underground organizations protesting, campaigning and – at times – committing illegal acts. Response can be tricky for organizations, their security operations and law enforcement. Just recently, the president of Oklahoma State University (OSU) in Stillwater canceled an anthrax vaccine study that would have killed dozens of baboons. “There are regrettably some violent acts committed by animal-rights groups, and the president felt we should take our breath here and not do this project just yet,” the OSU vice-president of research told the journal Nature. Stressing medical benefits from animal research, a consortium of scientists sponsored the national campaign to defend their work. The “ResearchSaves” campaign showed that animal studies have helped find better treatments for breast cancer, heart disease, and a wide range of other ailments — including diseases that threaten animal health. The campaign is sponsored by the Foundation for Biomedical Research and the National Association for Biomedical Research. In Oklahoma, the project, funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health, had been approved by the OSU animal-care committee in September and was awaiting review by the biosafety committee when the OSU President vetoed it, calling the study “controversial,” Nature reported. There is a level of support for animal rights. California’s Proposition 2 mandates more space for farm animals by 2015. Groups have gained some traction in circus protests. For instance, students at Florida’s Belvedere Elementary School in Sarasota, a long-time circus town, were the audience when PETA -- People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals -- staged a sidewalk protest against alleged cruelty to circus animals. However, some critics and law enforcement officials at the same time contend that financial donations, overlapping personnel and supportive public statements raise questions about a possible relationship between above-ground groups such as PETA and fringe groups like Animal Liberation Front. And just days ago, the Congressional Committee on House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Intelligence, Information Sharing and Terrorism Risk Assessment, heard testimony about eco-terrorism along with updates on political and religious terror groups.

Has your security operation faced animal rights or eco-terrorism threats? If so, what plans and protections have you taken? Email