Van Wert, Ohio — Vandalism freed thousands of mink at a rural northwest Ohio farm, leaving an estimated 10,000 of the small carnivorous mammals unaccounted for Tuesday evening, the local sheriff said.
So many minks were killed crossing a nearby road that a plow was brought in to help clear the carcasses away, said Van Wert County Sheriff Thomas Riggenbach.
The property owner initially estimated 25,000 to 40,000 mink were released from their cages at Lion Farms, Riggenbach said. But he said employees at the farm were able to corral many of the ones that remained on the property, which is less than 15 miles from the Indiana state line.
He declined to discuss any potential motive for the overnight vandalism or say whether any suspect has been identified as his office investigates.
A farm manager told CBS Fort Wayne, Indiana affiliate WANE-TV 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 claimed responsibility for releasing a much smaller number of mink at the farm years ago, the Times Bulletin in Van Wert reported.
Calls to a phone number listed for the farm were unanswered Tuesday, and it wasn't accepting messages.
The sheriff's office initially warned residents in the area to be cautious with poultry flocks, small pets and koi ponds that the mink might attack, but later said the freed mink are considered domesticated and likely lack the skills to survive in the wild.
The sheriff urged people who spot them not to approach them and to contact the farm or trappers for recapturing. He said residents who want to hunt or trap mink must make sure they understand the related rules and exemptions that apply in their area.
WANE spoke with Joseph Buddenberg, who it says is a member of the North American Animal Liberation Press Office who claims to have released animals from farms before.
Buddenberg provided insight into the mindset of those who break out animals from farms, the station says.
"The only humane thing to do when you visit a fur farm is to open every cage and liberate all the animals," WANE quotes him as saying.
Buddenberg, who spent two years in federal prison for breaking out animals, told WANE He once traveled across the country with another person in an attempt to "liberate" fur farms and release animals.
Buddenberg claimed people who do such things are trying to free animals from poor conditions and "filthy, tiny wire cages."
In response to assertions that the mink won't survive in the wild because they're domesticated, Buddenberg said "they talk out of both sides of their mouth."
"They say these animals can't survive, but then they also say they're hunting and killing every animal within a 20-mile radius," Buddenberg said. "So which one is it?"
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