The suspects destroyed fencing and approximately 25,000 to 40,000 mink were released, authorities said.
COLUMBUS, 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 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 at the farm in a previous incident 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 it 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 what related rules and exemptions apply in their area.
Anyone with information is asked to contact the Van Wert County Sheriff’s Office at 419-238-3866 or Van Wert County Crime Stoppers at 419-238-STOP (7867).