Officials in northwest Ohio have removed dead mink from a highway and are warning residents that the hungry animals may try to eat their pets and livestock. On Tuesday, about 10,000 of the sleek animals escaped from a farm.
The owner of the Lion Farms USA mink farm in Hoaglin Township, which is about 150 miles north of Cincinnati and near Ohio’s border with Indiana, told the Van Wert County Sheriff’s Office on Tuesday morning that someone had broken into the farm and opened cages that held between 25,000 and 40,000 mink. Sheriff Thomas Riggenbach of Van Wert County said Tuesday afternoon that most of the mink had been caught by farm workers, but he told people that about 10,000 mink were still missing.
Sheriff Riggenbach said in an interview on Wednesday, “I don’t know if there is a big threat to people, but they could attack small animals and livestock.” “I don’t want to tell people to go up to them and try to catch them by themselves.”
Flat and rural, Van Wert County has a lot of farms. The sheriff said that dead mink were all over U.S. Highway 127 on Wednesday morning. This is where the mink farm is.
“We had to have our department of transportation come out this morning to look at the highway road because so many animals had been killed by traffic,” Sheriff Riggenbach said. “They cleaned up the road so there wouldn’t be any safety problems.”
His office has told people who are worried about minks on their property to call a nuisance trapper. These people have the right tools and experience to safely catch the animals and put them back where they belong. Minks can also be hunted by people who live in the area if they are on their own land.
NYTimes reports, Sheriff Riggenbach said that if the mink got loose, it could hurt chickens, ducks, fish and other animals. “These animals would usually be fed on a set schedule inside the facility, but now they will have to figure out how to feed themselves,” the sheriff said.
The sheriff said that it was unlikely that all of the mink would ever be found and that on Wednesday morning, there were probably less than 10,000 on the loose because some had been caught, killed, or herded. The sheriff said that the authorities were looking into who let the mink go.
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Mark Flint, who is in charge of the Zoo and Wildlife Conservation Medicine, Ecosystem Health and One Welfare program at Ohio State University, said that mink would only attack people “out of fear” and did not pose a risk of disease.
Mink are carnivores and Dr. Flint said in an email that putting a lot of them in the environment right before winter when there aren’t as many resources, could “harm the local environment.”
Dr. Flint said, “These are pets that have been fed, housed and cared for every day.” “Now that the temperature has dropped into the 20s and there isn’t much food around, they are on their own.” It will likely cause a lot of these animals to die, which is sad.
Animal rights activists have been going after mink farms for a long time. Because there isn’t much of a market for mink fur in the U.S., mink farms sell most of their goods abroad. Luxury brands that used to sell fur, like Burberry, Chanel, and Ralph Lauren, no longer do so.
During the coronavirus pandemic, scientists have been looking more closely at these farms. They are worried that mink with coronavirus infections could keep the virus for a long time or be a source of new strains. Congress is thinking about making it illegal to raise minks.
Late in the year 2020, Denmark ordered that all of its minks be killed because a mutated version of the coronavirus that had been found in minks could make vaccines less effective in humans. In July, Denmark’s Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen apologised to the mink farmers of the country after a report said that top officials had handled the cull badly.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said in April that at least four people in Michigan were infected with a version of the coronavirus that is usually seen in mink.
Eddie Meyer, who runs the mink farm in Van Wert County, was not available to talk on Wednesday.
Mr. Meyer told a local news station, WPTA21, that the farm would have to shoot and kill any minks that got out of their cages because they could get sick. He said he thought the Animal Liberation Front, a group that fights for animal rights, was behind the release because the farm had the words “ALF We’ll be back” spray-painted on it.
In a news release on Tuesday, the North American Animal Liberation Press Office, which shares messages from the Animal Liberation Front about its actions, said that it had not received a claim for the Ohio mink release, but that there had been two similar actions this month in Ohio and Michigan.
Some 10,000 mink on the loose after Ohio farm vandalized
Van Wert, Ohio—Vandalism let thousands of minks out of a farm in a rural area of northwest Ohio on Tuesday evening. The sheriff said that about 10,000 of the small carnivorous mammals are still missing.
Van Wert County Sheriff Thomas Riggenbach said that so many minks died while crossing a nearby road that a plow was brought in to help move the dead animals.
Riggenbach said the property owner first thought that between 25,000 and 40,000 mink were let out of their cages at Lion Farms. But he said that workers on the farm, which is less than 15 miles from the Indiana state line, were able to round up many of the ones that stayed.
“someone had broken into the farm and opened cages that held somewhere between 25,000 to 40,000 mink”
really stretching the definition of “farm” https://t.co/fHSKZVMFOi
— James Hamblin (@jameshamblin) November 17, 2022
He wouldn’t talk about a possible reason for the damage done overnight or say if a suspect has been found while his office investigates.
A farm manager told WANE-TV, a CBS station in Fort Wayne, Indiana, that someone spray-painted “ALF” and “we’ll be back” on a fence.
The Times Bulletin in Van Wert said that years ago, a group called the Animal Liberation Front took credit for letting out a much smaller number of minks from the farm.
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Tuesday calls to the farm’s phone number went unanswered, and it wasn’t taking messages. The sheriff’s office told people in the area to be careful around poultry flocks, small pets, and koi ponds because the minks might attack them. Later, they said the minks were domesticated and probably didn’t know how to live in the wild.
People who see them were told by the sheriff not to go near them and to call the farm or trappers to get them back. He said that people who live in an area and want to hunt or trap mink must make sure they know the rules and exceptions that apply to them.
WANE talked to Joseph Buddenberg, who WANE says is a member of the North American Animal Liberation Press Office and says he has freed animals from farms before. The station says that Buddenberg gave them an idea of what people who steal animals from farms think.
WANE quotes him as saying, “The only humane thing to do when you visit a fur farm is to open every cage and set all the animals free.”
Buddenberg spent two years in federal prison for letting animals out. He told WANE that he and another person once traveled across the country to try to “liberate” fur farms and let animals out.
Buddenberg said that people who do these things are trying to free animals from bad conditions and “dirty, tiny wire cages.” When people said that domesticated minks wouldn’t be able to live in the wild, Buddenberg said, “They talk out of both sides of their mouths.”
“They say these animals can’t live, but they also say they hunt and kill every animal within 20 miles,” Buddenberg said. “Well, which is it?”
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