As many as 40,000 mink were released into the wild on Tuesday in an act of vandalism. Wildlife rescue cannot deal with them as the animals are domesticated.
WHITEHOUSE, Ohio — An animal rescue organization in northwest Ohio is warning of the dangers posed by thousands of mink still on the loose in Van Wert County after an act of vandalism.
Nature’s Nursery Center for Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation shared its thoughts on the bizarre situation on Tuesday evening. The center warns that this number of mink could cause immense damage to the area.
“[The release] could have devastating effects on wildlife populations in the region, not to mention farms and domestic animals,” a press release from the center said. . When you add this large amount of predators to an area, the whole balance of the ecosystem can be affected for many years.”
Multiple agencies are investigating a break-in that occurred Tuesday night at Lion Farms USA Mink Farm in Hoaglin Township. Somewhere between 25,000 and 40,000 mink were released from cages.
Many were shot by local residents or run over by vehicles, but around 10,000 were missing as of Tuesday night.
Chances of survival decrease as the weather continues to get colder.
“Farmed mink are not likely to have all of the inherent wild instincts necessary to survive,” the Nature’s Nursery statement said. “These animals are susceptible to malnutrition as the amount of prey is reduced due to competition among the large group. Also, with temperatures now dropping into the 20s and 30s at night, and the minks not having established dens, they will have no place to survive long term.”
Nature’s Nursery, located in Whitehouse, admits wildlife from an 18-county region, including the area where the minks were released. However, the organization is unable to take care of these animals.
“The mink that have been released are raised on the farm and considered domestic, not wild,” said executive director Allison Aey. “We only rehabilitate animals that can possibly be released back into the wild and those mink shouldn’t be in the wild.”
Mink are not an immediate danger to humans, but they do pose a risk to livestock owners and property managers. Poultry farmers are particularly at risk, as mink kill and consume chickens.
WTOL 11 spoke to a resident on Tuesday who said their friend’s chicken farm had been attacked.
The Van Wert County Sheriff’s Office also warns owners of ornamental ponds filled with koi and other fish, as minks also hunt fish.