VAN WERT CO., Ohio (WANE) — Police in Van Wert County said someone broke into a mink farm overnight and released more than 25,000 of the small animals from their cages.
The incident occurred early Tuesday at Lion Farms USA Mink Farm on Hoaglin Road in Hoaglin Township, six miles north of Van Wert, according to a report from the Van Wert County Sheriff’s Office.
The sheriff’s office said the suspect or suspects destroyed the farm’s fence and released 25,000 to 40,000 minks from their cages. Many remained on the property and were rounded up by farm workers, the sheriff’s office said.
However, others escaped.
A WANE 15 crew at the farm was told that many of the minks will be killed if found. In a press release around 4 p.m., the sheriff’s office said 10,000 minks were still missing.
Now the sheriff’s office is warning about the mink.
“Minks are carnivorous mammals that stick to a diet consisting of fresh animals. They regularly hunt prey larger than themselves. As a result, they can be a nuisance to homeowners, ranchers, and property managers. Mink has proved especially costly and problematic for poultry farmers and homeowners with ornamental ponds stocked with koi and other fish,” the sheriff’s office said in the post.
It is not clear who broke into the farm to release the animals. The sheriff’s office said the incident was under investigation.
Eddie Meyer, manager of the mink farm, told WANE 15 that the burglary must have happened between 1 a.m. and 4 a.m.
The letters “ALF” were spray painted on the wall near where the fence was cut next to the phrase “we’ll be back”.
In 2004, John E. Lewis, who was deputy assistant director of the FBI at the time, spoke to the Senate Judiciary Committee about ALF, short for Animal Liberation Front.
Founded in Britain in the 1970s, ALF, according to Lewis, is a loosely organized extremist movement dedicated to ending the abuse and exploitation of animals.
Lewis also described ALF at the time as a group that had emerged as a “serious domestic terrorist threat”.
Lewis said ALF members “take direct action against companies or individuals that, in their opinion, use animals for research or economic gain, or otherwise conduct business with those companies or individuals.”
Meyer said 95% of minks will die within a few days because they are domesticated and not used to hunting in the wild.
Meyer estimated that the farm has been able to recover about 7,000 minks, with the rest being hunted by the farm and locals.
The sheriff’s office said property owners who brought minks onto their property have the right to protect their property, but individuals who fired a firearm in municipal areas could be breaking the law.
Property owners with a hunting license exemption can also hunt or capture a fur animal on their own land without a fur trapper’s license, the sheriff’s office added.
Ohio State Patrol, Paulding County Sheriff’s Office, ODNR, EMA and ODOT are all involved in the investigation.
Anyone with any information regarding the break-in at the mink farm is asked to call the Van Wert County Sheriff’s Office at (419) 238-3866 or Van Wert County Crime Stoppers at (419) 238-STOP (7867).
Anyone needing help catching nuisance animals can call Licensed Trappers David Burger at (419) 203-6368 or Cody Feasby at (419) 203-6238.
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