Between 30,000 and 40,000 farm-raised minks were released into the wild in central Minnesota earlier this week. Burglars, presumed to be animal rights activists by investigators, cut the fence to a mink-pelt farm and opened the cages holding the animals- releasing them into the wild. However, the misguided attempt at vigilantism has resulted in the deaths of the creatures who were born and raised in captivity.
The Stearns County Sheriff’s office says someone entered the Lang Farms property in Eden Valley late Sunday or early Monday. Lang Farms raises minks for pelts. According to the Sheriff’s office, an unknown person or persons dismantled areas of the exterior fence that surrounds the barns and released all the minks from their cages. Minks are native to Minnesota, but because the minks were domesticated, wildlife officials believe it highly unlikely that these “rescued” minks will survive.
Dan Lang, the owner of Lang Fur Farms, estimated that more than half his animals are dead. The Washington Times reports that Lang and a group of his neighbors have spent hours rounding up the dead minks along with the live ones, who are now fighting among each other because their social groupings have been disrupted- and are dying as a result.
“We just threw mink in pens to try to get as many back as we could. And now they are killing each other,” Lang said. “And they’re still dying. They are still dying from heat stress.”
Authorities are still searching for approximately 14,000 released minks. Around 11,000 minks recovered are still alive, but around 15,000 mink bodies have been found thus far.
“I wish these people that did this would come here every day for two weeks, and they could help pick up the dead ones,” Lang told reporters. Don Gudmundson, the town’s sheriff, agreed.
“If they actually cared about animals they wouldn’t release thousands of mink to die out in the heat,” Gudmundson said. I wouldn’t go so far as to call it an act of ‘domestic terrorism’ as some outlets are, but I’m inclined to agree.
Minks are weird but adorable little animals that look like a cross between otters and ferrets. As Slate perfectly describes, if you have ever seen a mink in real life, their front and back halves move independently when they run, so it looks like two tiny people pretending to be one horse. While the idea of thousands of these creatures flopping through a field is entertaining for a minute, this whole situation is bizarre and rather sad. It’s a perfect demonstration that good intentions do not cancel out negative repercussions.
As a huge animal lover, the idea that animals are being born and cared for simply to be killed for their fur is abhorrent. I strongly believe that animal rights need to be protected and practices like this should end. But this reckless act of releasing thousands of minks into the wild hurts the cause more than anything. These animal rights activists have created “absolute chaos” as Gudmundson described it, and does nothing to help these creatures.
Born in captivity, they are entirely dependent on people to survive. As demonstrated by the thousands of little bodies piling up, they can’t just move to the nearby wildlife preservation and management area and live happily ever after. There are aspects of living in the wild that these poor animals don’t know, and if they don’t die from the summer heat, they may very well starve to death. Should their instincts somehow kick in, the sudden invasion of 40,000 minks that feast on frogs, fish, ducks, and worms will completely disrupt the ecosystem and could have negative effects on the local wildlife.
No activists or animal rights groups have come forward at the time of writing to claim responsibility for the incident, but numerous groups have shared their support- and I just don’t get it. Are they incapable of thinking of long-term repercussions? Sure, the Lang Farms have lost an estimated $750,000.00 in potential revenue, and the Langs may never recover from this loss as their mink breeding records are no longer relevant. Hey, that’s definitely a win- but only temporarily. Neighbors and other mink farmers- some from other states and countries- have reached out and offered support in whatever means necessary to get the Lang Farm running. It’s only a matter of time before things are back where they were, and then what?
Additionally, with this projected loss in mink pelts, one can only presume this will drive the cost of mink fur-related items up. Simple supply-and-demand concept. Any company supplied by Lang Farms will have a drop in supply, and any farms that are still producing mink pelts will have to inflate their prices to compensate for the increase in demand. If anything, releasing all those minks is creating more profit for these farmers.
Ordinarily, this would be a non-story for me, but I find it infuriating that animal rights groups are patting themselves on the back for this when realistically, incidents like this make things worse. Back in 2013, several hundred minks were released from Grand Meadows farm- around 200 miles away from Lang’s property. The man and woman responsible were on a mink-freeing road trip that spanned 40,000 miles and were caught and charged. Evidently, these groups have learned nothing. If you want to end animal cruelty and animal farming, then you need to educate the public. If people stop buying mink-related products, then guess what? All these terrible places end up shutting down and lo and behold, no more animals being bred just to be killed!
I know it’s not as satisfying as arbitrarily “saving” animals to generate media buzz, and it’s a much slower process- but it actually works. Hell, look at the new Canada’s Food Guide informing people to shift away from dairy products and red meat. Do you think that happened overnight? So stop taking cues from the useless PETA and stop with these ridiculous grand gestures. These only generate resentment and anger towards animal rights. After accidentally killing thousands of innocent minks, perhaps you need to take a step back and start trying to figure out how to actually help these creatures in the long term.