Thousands of Mink Released From PA Fur Farm: Authorities Term It 'Agricultural Criminal Mischief.'

A typical wild mink. (Credit: YouTube/6ABC)

Thousands of pen-raised mink are on the run in Pennsylvania, apparently after someone cut holes in the fur farm fence.

Over the weekend, Pennsylvania State Police reported that holes were cut into Richard Stahl Fur Farm’s fence in Rockefeller Township, Northumberland County. The incident has led to an estimated 6,000 to 8,000 minks roaming free in the Sunbury area.

“Right now it’s like living in some sort of sci-fi movie or horror film,” local resident Erin Bourinski wrote in a Facebook post. “Everywhere you look, there’s minks — running through the fields, standing in the roads, trying to find shelter in random houses.”


Mink are nasty little predators. Mustelids -- that's the weasel family, of which the mink is a member -- are one of the few predators that will kill more than they can eat. This sudden influx of mink into a local ecosystem will do a lot of damage to the local ecosystem, and the mink themselves will suffer badly. 

It’s unclear who the hole-cutting culprit was, but a state police report says the act is being considered “agricultural criminal mischief.”

Multiple law enforcement agencies are investigating the holes in the fence.

In the past, animal activism groups like The Animal Liberation Front have led similar mink-freeing initiatives, but no direct ties to this instance have been drawn.

There are better ways to not destroy the environment.

The Animal Liberation Front (ALF) and the allied Earth Liberation Front (ELF) have carried out not only acts of vandalism and animal releases like this but also have been accused of bombing and arson attacks. In 2004, the FBI named them as domestic terrorists. It's not clear whether or not the ALF was responsible for this release, but it's certainly the kind of thing they got up to; if not an ALF cell, this act may well have been carried out by someone with ALF sympathies.


These mink have been released into a strange environment, one for which they are not prepared. They have been pen-raised, and while mink are by nature very competent little predators, these have no experience out in the wild, and, while the sheer number of animals released (6-8,000) guarantees some adverse effect on local wildlife, most of them will starve to death if not quickly recaptured. Mink are animals with high metabolisms, to boot, so if not recaptured quickly, starvation is a very real threat.

It seems likely that, if this was an animal rights or other environmental group or sympathizer that carried this out, they did so hoping to spare the animals from cruel treatment. Instead, they have treated them cruelly themselves, condemning most of them to starvation, thirst, the fright of strange surroundings, and eventually, a slow death.

This was a release of animals raised for fur. It could have been far worse. Back in the mid-Nineties, my wife worked in a large animal agricultural research company, and one of their projects involved swine deliberately infected with salmonella, in order to research treatments for that disease. There was at least one attempted release of these animals during the project, which, if it had been successful, could have been disastrous for the livestock in the area. Animals are also used for research into diseases like Ebola, which could be catastrophic if the test animals were released by well-meaning but ignorant activists.


Whatever one thinks of raising animals for fur, this isn't the answer. Vandalism and the release of unprepared, inexperienced predators into an ecosystem is far more cruel to the animals involved than any other conceivable fate they may have in store. Whoever is responsible for this really otter leave well enough alone.


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