EDEN LAKE TOWNSHIP, Minn. (KMSP) - Authorities in Stearns County are searching for the person or persons responsible for releasing more than 30,000 mink from a mink farm in Eden Lake Township overnight Sunday.
The animals were released from Lang Farms LLC, which raises mink for pelts. The suspects entered the property sometime between 10:30 p.m. Sunday and 5:30 a.m. Monday. According to the Stearns County sheriff's office, they dismantled areas of the exterior fence that surrounds the barns and opened every single cage.
Dan Lang, co-owner of the family farm says he lost around 38,000 mink. He values the loss at more than $750,000.
"We do nothing but care for these animals-- our whole life is these animals," said Lang. "For someone to come and do this is just--this is what we do and we're not going to stop doing this."
Lang said the community support has been overwhelming, as around 50 volunteers showed up at the farm Monday to help wrangle the animals.
They have been able to recapture many, but he says most are dying from stress and heat exposure as the domesticated mink cannot survive in the wild.
"They're going to starve to death. Oh, because that's better than being raised in a cage," said Stearns County Sheriff Don Gudmundson. "They're not animal rights activists because an animal rights activist would not do anything this deplorable."
Gudmundson says the farm did not have security cameras, but Lang has plans to install them immediately.
"They should come out here tomorrow and the next day and the next day after that and help me pick up the ones that they were supposedly letting run. And see what they do because it's not right," said Lang.
Michael Whelan with Fur Comission USA, the association that represents American mink farmers, believes this is the largest mink release in recent US history.
"They have not done any good. They have done evil in our society," said Gudmundson.
Anyone who sees a mink loose in the area is advised not to approach it because it may bite.
Anyone with information on the incident is asked to call the Stearns County sheriff's office at 320-251-4240 or Tri-County Crimestoppers at 1-800-255-1301.