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Deputy: Thousands of mink dying after being let loose from central Minnesota farm

A mink File photo

EDEN VALLEY, Minn. — Only about 5,500 of the 40,000 mink that were let loose from a mink farm in central Minnesota have been recovered as of late Tuesday afternoon; however, 90 percent of those are dead, officials said.

Stearns County Chief Deputy Jon Lentz said experienced mink handlers are using fishing nets to try to catch the minks that seemed to scatter "everywhere" from the Lang Farms LLC about 2½ miles northwest of Eden Valley, next to a grassy wildlife management area.

Vandals or burglars entered the mink farm about 30 miles southwest of St. Cloud, dismantled a fence and opened cages in the 25 to 30 sheds where they were being raised to let them free sometime between 10:30 p.m. Sunday night, July 16, and 5:30 a.m. the following morning.

Lentz said no one has been apprehended in the case, but he suspects it might be animal rights activists.

"No one has claimed responsibility," he said about any animal rights groups who fight against containment of animals."But in such a massive release the first place to look iis to one of those groups."

Lentz said Investigators doubt it was just someone that let the minks out "just for fun or as vandalism."

The chief deputy also wouldn't say whether they believe it was one person or several who were involved. But he said officials believe it was a "planned event." and that access to the farm was likely gained through the wildlife management area about only 50 yards from the mink operation.

What is known is that the domesticated mink are dying or likely will die as they can't survive for long in the wild.

Lentz said the stress of being out in the wild or being caught by the handlers in fishing nets is likely the reason most are dying.

About 9 out of 10 that were recovered die and are being buried, he said.

Some on the loose may live for awhile, but Lentz expects to get reports of live or dead mink spotted in the area for weeks as about 34,000 are still on the loose.

Not only will most of the mink die, but officials said release of the predatory domestic animals will have a negative impact on the surrounding native wildlife population.

There was a report Monday night from a nearby farmer who lost 10 chickens, likely to the mink.

The mink farm has a capacity of 40,000 mink and Lentz said it was full or nearly full at the time of the incident.

The value of the loss of the animals was estimated at about $750,000.

Numerous calls to Lang Farms LLC over the past few days weren't answered.

The sheriff's office has been working with state and federal officials with the case.

Anyone with information about the burglary is asked to contact the sheriff's office at 320-251-4240 or Tri-County Crimestoppers at 1-800-255-1301 for a possible reward.