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Van Wert Co. Sheriff: 25 to 40 thousand minks with a diet consisting of 'fresh kills' released from farm

At least one unknown suspect released the minks from a farm overnight Tuesday. Officials say they pose a risk to local wildlife and livestock.

VAN WERT COUNTY, Ohio — The Van Wert County Sheriff's Office is investigating after a break-in at a Hoaglin Township mink farm during which somewhere between 25,000 and 40,000 minks were released from their crates. 

According to a Facebook post from the sheriff's office, the incident occurred at the Lion Farms USA Mink Farm. At least one unknown suspect broke into and vandalized the property during the overnight hours of Tuesday, Nov. 15. The suspect(s) destroyed fencing, releasing up to 40,000 minks from their cages.

For reference, there were only 665 residents in Hoaglin Township in 2018. That is a 60:1 mink-to-human ratio at worst. At the county level, humans slightly outnumber minks on the lower end, but if the 40,000-mink estimate is used, then there are 1.4 loose minks per person in Van Wert County. 

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The sheriff's office warns that minks, which appear similar to weasels and ferrets, are highly destructive animals. They are carnivores that consume a diet "consisting of fresh kills," and regularly hunt prey "bigger than themselves." 

Credit: WTOL 11
A mink, spotted in a cornfield in Van Wert County, Ohio, after 25,000-40,000 minks were released from a farm by an unknown suspect. (Nov. 15, 2022)

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While not an immediate danger to humans, they pose a risk to livestock owners and property managers. Poultry ranchers are especially at risk, as minks will kill and consume chickens. The sheriff's office also warns homeowners with ornamental ponds filled with koi and other fish, as minks also hunt fish. 

The Van Wert County Sheriff's Office is investigating the situation will assistance from other agencies, including the Ohio Department of Natural Resources and the Ohio Emergency Management Agency, among others.

Anyone with information regarding the break-in of Lion Farms USA Mink Farm is asked to contact the Van Wert County Sheriff's Office at 419-238-3866, or Van Wert County Crime Stoppers at 419-238-7867. You can remain anonymous. 

Anyone needing assistance trapping nuisance animals may contact the following licensed trappers: David Burger, 419-203-6368 or Cody Feasby, 419-203-6238. 

Credit: Gina White/WTOL 11

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