Van Wert, Ohio The local sheriff said vandalism set thousands of minks free at a rural northwest Ohio farm, leaving an estimated 10,000 of the small carnivorous mammals.
Van Wert County Sheriff Thomas Riggenbach said so many mink were killed crossing a nearby road that a plow was brought in to help haul away the bodies.
The property owner initially estimated that 25,000 to 40,000 minks had been released from their cages at the lion farm, Riggenbach said. But he said farm workers were able to cull many who remained on the property, which is less than 15 miles from the Indiana state line.
He declined to discuss any possible motive for the overnight vandalism or to say whether any suspects had been identified during his office’s investigation.
A farm manager told CBS Fort Wayne, Indiana affiliate VAN-TV that someone left a spray-painted message with the letters “ALF” and the phrase “we’ll be back.”
A group known as the Animal Liberation Front claimed responsibility for releasing a small number of minks to the farm years ago, the Times Bulletin in Van Wert reported.
A phone number listed for the form had unanswered calls Tuesday, and it was not accepting messages.
The sheriff’s office initially warned area residents to beware of poultry flocks, small pets and koi ponds that mink might attack, but later stated that free-ranging mink are considered domesticated and can survive in the wild. There is a lack of skills to survive.
The sheriff urged those who saw him not to approach him and to contact the ranch or trappers for recapture. He added that residents who wish to hunt or trap mink should ensure they understand the relevant regulations and exemptions that apply in their area.
WANE spoke with Joseph Budenberg, who says he is a member of the North American Animal Liberation Press Office, which claims to have released animals from farms in the first place.
The station says Budenberg provided insight into the mindset of those taking animals out of the fields.
WANE quoted him as saying, “When you go to a fur farm the only humane thing to do is to open all the cages and set all the animals free.”
Budenberg, who spent two years in federal prison for breaking down animals, told WANE that he once traveled across the country with another man in an effort to “liberate” fur farms and release the animals.
Budenberg claimed that those who do this are trying to free animals from poor conditions and “dirty, small wire cages”.
In response to the claim that mink would not survive in the wild because they are domesticated, Budenberg said “they talk out of both sides of their mouths.”
“They say these animals can’t survive, but then they also say they’re hunting and killing every animal within a 20-mile radius,” Budenberg said. “So which one is it?”