VAN WERT, Ohio (AP) — Vandalism freed thousands of mink from a farm in rural northwest Ohio, leaving an estimated 10,000 small carnivorous mammals missing Tuesday night, the local sheriff said.
So many mink were killed crossing a nearby road that a plow was brought in to help clear the carcasses, Van Wert County Sheriff Thomas Riggenbach said.
The owner originally estimated that 25,000 to 40,000 mink were released from their cages at Lion Farms, Riggenbach said. But he said farm workers were able to round up many of those remaining on the property, which is less than 15 miles from the Indiana border.
He declined to discuss any potential motive for the nighttime vandalism or say whether a suspect has been identified as his office investigates.
A farm manager told WANE-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 had previously claimed credit for releasing a much smaller number of mink on the farm in a previous incident years ago, Van Wert’s Times Bulletin reported.
Calls to a phone number listed for the farm went unanswered on Tuesday, and it was not accepting messages.
The sheriff’s office initially warned area residents to be careful with flocks of poultry, small pets and koi ponds that mink might attack, but later said the minks released were considered domesticated and probably lacked the skills to survive in the wild.
The sheriff urged people who spot them not to approach them and to contact the farm or the trappers to recapture them. He said residents who want to hunt or trap mink should make sure they understand what rules and related exemptions apply in their area.