All but 10,000 minks were accounted for by mid-afternoon Tuesday after vandals let 25,000 to 40,000 of the animals out of their cages at a Van Wert County farm.
The owner of Lion Farms USA said many of the minks stayed on the property, and employees were able to corral them, according to an update on the Van Wert Sheriff’s Department Facebook page.
Sheriff Thomas Riggenbach said people who saw any should call Lion Farms or a nuisance trapper so the animals could be “recaptured by experienced handlers.”
The sheriff department’s Facebook page listed licensed trappers David Burger, 419-203-6368, and Cody Feasby, 419-203-6238, as options. A call to Lion Farms just before 5 p.m. Tuesday wasn’t answered, and the messaging system was full, according to a recording.
Riggenbach warned residents that the minks could become a problem for pet owners and livestock farmers. They’re carnivorous animals with a preference for fresh kills, and they regularly hunt animals bigger than themselves.
“Mink have proven to be especially costly and problematic for poultry ranchers, as well as homeowners with ornamental ponds filled with koi and other fish,” he said.
People have a right to protect their property, including livestock and pets, if mink come on their land, he added. However, it’s illegal to fire a gun in municipal areas.
The sheriff’s department also received a large volume of calls about hunting and trapping the loose animals.
“Property owners meeting the hunting license exemption may hunt or trap a fur-bearing animal on his or her own lands without a fur taker permit,” Riggenback said. Those with questions about trapping or hunting mink should contact the Ohio Department of Natural Resources in Findlay at 800-945-3543.
The loose minks are domesticated and considered livestock. Being outside is dangerous for them.
“Domesticated mink generally will not survive in the wild because they lack natural survival skills,” Riggenbach said.
The Van Wert Sheriff’s Department continues to investigate the breaking-and-entering and vandalism, he said. It’s received help from the Ohio State Patrol, the Paulding County Sheriff’s Office, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, the Emergency Management Agency and the Ohio Department of Transportation.
Anyone with information about the incident should contact the Van Wert County Sheriff’s Office at 419-238-3866 or Van Wert County Crime Stoppers at 419-238-STOP (7867).
Callers can remain anonymous.