Toby Bradshaw, Target of Famous Arson, Hunts Elk, Praises Vegetarianism, and Defends Genetic Engineering

Posted: June 21, 2012 at 10:12 pm

This week's cover story delves into the infamous University of Washington arson and the underground environmental movement it blew up. The 2001 arson, intended as a protest against genetic engineering, targeted a plant biologist named Toby Bradshaw--an interesting character in his own right.

He's a blunt, motorcycle-riding, 55-year-old contrarian who dismisses his attackers as "idiots" and, unlike some of his colleagues, seemed to emerge from the arson with his psyche in tact.

As if to thumb his nose at the enviro/animal rights crowd, he has outside his office a picture of a jokey billboard for a South Carolina restaurant. "There's plenty of room for all God's creatures," the billboard reads. "Right next to the mashed potatoes." Inside his office, the walls are decorated with the skulls of animals he's hunted in locations ranging from Idaho and Wyoming to Zimbabwe.

"That's where I get my meat," he says, pointing to the skull of an elk that weighed 600 or 700 pounds and kept him going for most of 2008. "I shoot it." He keeps 10 hawks at his house for his hunting trips, which have him disappearing into the Rocky Mountain wilderness for a week or two every fall and coming back with the makings of elk Teriyaki and antelope chili.

Yet, if you think that makes him the archetypal opposite of the vegan types who attacked him, think again. While far from vegan, he says that a vegetarian diet is, generally, better for the planet. He shoots much of the meat he eats precisely because he believes it's the only real responsible way to get the stuff. Like many vegetarians, he holds that commercial meat production is a waste of natural resources because animals are fed food that would be far more productively used feeding people.

On the topic of genetic engineering, though, Bradshaw couldn't be further apart from environmental activists.

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Toby Bradshaw, Target of Famous Arson, Hunts Elk, Praises Vegetarianism, and Defends Genetic Engineering

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