As several as 40,000 mink were launched from their cages at a mink ranch in northwest Ohio over night Monday, authorities claim.
Suspects damaged fence at Lion Farms USA Mink Farm in Hoaglin Township and also launched 25,000 to 40,000 mink from their cages at the ranch, Van Wert County Sheriff Thomas Riggenbach stated in a press release uploaded on the workplace’s Facebook web page Tuesday.
The case, which is being thought about a breaking-and-entering criminal offense or criminal damage, continues to be under examination, Riggenbach stated. However the workplace uploaded the info concerning the released mink immediately very early Tuesday “to inform our neighborhoods what was taking place,” Riggenbach informed USA TODAY. “So they could start making informed decisions and understand what had taken place.”
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He warned local farmers and residents about the danger posed to the area by the animals, which were being raised for fur at the farm in northwest Ohio about 35 miles east of Fort Wayne, Indiana.
Are mink dangerous?
Mink, which resemble ferrets and weasels, are not considered dangerous wild animals, the Ohio Department of Agriculture said. But the department advises people in the area to keep a close eye on backyard poultry and livestock.
In the wild, mink eat everything from frogs and fish to mice and rabbits. Owners of pets and livestock should be aware, the sheriff’s workplace release said. “Minks are carnivorous mammals that stick to a diet consisting of fresh kills,” the release read.
“They regularly hunt prey bigger than themselves. As a result, they can be a bothersome pest for homeowners, livestock owners, and property managers. Minks have proven to be especially costly and problematic for poultry ranchers as well as homeowners with ornamental ponds filled with koi and other fish.”
How do you capture thousands of mink?
The sheriff’s office suggested local, licensed trappers who could assist residents in capturing mink if needed. Officers also contacted the state transportation department after reports of drivers hitting the animals on a road near the farm.
“We wanted to contact ODOT to make them aware and let them come out and just assess what the roadway was looking like and if there was any steps the felt were appropriate to deal with the animals being killed on the roadway,” Riggenbach said.
Also assisting in the investigation: the Ohio State Patrol, Paulding County Sheriff’s Office, Ohio Department of Natural Resources, and Ohio Emergency Management Agency.
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Lion Farms USA did not respond to phone calls from USA TODAY.
Who might release mink from farms?
Animal rights activists have released mink from mink farms. The Animal Liberation Front, an animal rights group, has claimed that on Nov. 8 a member released 1,000 mink from a fur facility in Massillon, Ohio, about three hours east of Lion Farms, The Cincinnati Enquirer, part of the USA TODAY Network, reported.
Authorities told the Enquirer they have been checking in with nearby fur facilities since that claim was uploaded, but no farms in the area have reported missing mink.
The Animal Liberation Front did claim to have released 150 to 200 of the animals in a September 2013 raid at a mink farm in Van Wert County, the Van Wert (Ohio) Times Bulletin reported Tuesday.
COVID and also mink
During the height of the coronavirus pandemic, there were concerns of coronavirus infections on mink farms in the U.S. Denmark killed all the millions of mink in the country’s mink industry – they are raised for fur – after the virus spread from workers to mink and back to humans. (The Danish government had actually planned to end the industry in 2024 but accelerated the plan because of the pandemic.)
At the time, the Ohio Department of Agriculture said there had been no virus outbreaks in mink in the state, reported The Columbus Dispatch, part of the USA TODAY Network. It was unclear at the time how many mink farms existed in Ohio because the state agency does not regulate or track the farms.
In Michigan, two mink farm employees, along with a taxidermist and his wife, that contracted COVID-19 in 2021 probably were the first U.S. cases of animal-to-human COVID “spillover,” The Detroit Free Press, additionally component of the USA TODAY Network, reported this year.
Contributing: Victoria Moorwood, The Cincinnati Enquirer
Follow Mike Snider on Twitter: @mikesnider.