Activists are likely to blame for the recent release of close to 40,000 mink from a farm in Van Wert County, Ohio, authorities have said. The apparent on-farm criminal activity included stolen livestock, destroyed fencing, damage to barns, graffiti, and threats to the farmer and his family, according to the Fur Commission USA. In total, the damage is estimated to be close to $1.6 million.
Currently, the Van Wert County Sheriff’s Department is estimating that 10,000 mink are still unaccounted for. The loose mink are domesticated animals that aren’t used to surviving in the wild and aside from the threat they pose to local wildlife and the local ecosystem, the animals are already preying on local livestock.
One area resident reported 14 chickens killed by one mink at a home 12 miles from the farm. Area hunters are being encouraged to take mink by trapping and hunting. Meanwhile, snow plows are reportedly being used to clear the roadways of dead mink killed by traffic.
“These terrorist acts are devastating for the farmer and his family, the community and surrounding ecosystem, and the mink themselves. It is nothing less than an attack on rural America and our right to farm, free from intimidation and violence,” wrote the Fur Commission USA in their statement on the release.
These acts of terrorism aren’t new to the mink industry. In the past three weeks, two other farms in Ohio and one in Michigan have been affected.
“The irony is that while these extreme animal rights activists/terrorist purport to be acting on behalf of the animals — nothing could be further from the truth. These releases guarantee a cruel and horrific death for the mink, who have minimal survival skills,” states the Fur Commission’s release. “Furthermore, their acts of violence are destroying private property, threatening livelihoods, and putting hard-working families in fear for their safety.”
The farm named Lion Farms USA is a certified operation that follows guidelines governing the humane care of animals. According to the Fur Commission, these include animal husbandry practices developed with scientists, veterinarians, and welfare experts.
That’s a lot of mink on the loose! pic.twitter.com/pfSR1l6iOC
— ODOT NW Ohio (@ODOT_NWOhio) November 15, 2022
Several agencies are working together on the investigation: Van Wert County Sheriff’s Office, Ohio State Patrol, Paulding County Sheriff’s Office, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Ohio’s Emergency Management Agency, and the Ohio Department of Transportation.