WHITEHOUSE, Ohio — A northwest Ohio animal rescue organization is warning of the dangers posed by thousands of minks still on the loose in Van Wert County after an act of vandalism.
Nature's Nursery Center for Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation shared thoughts on the bizarre situation Tuesday night. The center warns this many minks could cause immense harm to the area.
"[The release] could have devastating effects on the area wildlife populations, not to mention farms and domestic pets," a news release from the center stated. "As incredible hunters, mink can kill animals twice their size, resulting in a significant variety of species being their prey. When you add this large amount of predators into an area, the entire balance of the ecosystem can be impacted for many years to come."
Multiple agencies are investigating a break-in that occurred overnight Tuesday at Lion Farms USA Mink Farm in Hoaglin Township. Somewhere between 25,000 and 40,000 minks were freed from cages.
Many were shot by local residents or run over by vehicles, but about 10,000 were unaccounted for as of Tuesday night.
Chances of survival will dwindle as the weather continues to grow colder.
"Farm-raised mink are not likely to have the complete inherent wild instincts needed to survive," the release from Nature's Nursery stated. "These animals are likely to become malnourished as the quantity of prey is reduced due to competition among the large group. In addition, 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 not able to care for these animals.
"The mink that were released are farm bred and considered domestic, not wild” Executive Director Allison Aye said. “We only rehab animals that can eventually be released into the wild and these mink should not be in the wild.”
Minks are not an immediate danger to humans, but they pose a risk to livestock owners and property managers. Poultry ranchers are especially at risk, as minks will kill and consume chickens.
WTOL 11 spoke with a resident Tuesday who said their friend's chicken farm was attacked.
The Van Wert County Sheriff's Office is also warning homeowners with ornamental ponds filled with koi and other fish, as minks also hunt fish.