The Canada Mink Breeders Association is offering up a $100,000 reward for any information leading to the capture of what it calls the “animal rights extremists” responsible for releasing 500 minks from a southwestern Ontario farm.
Ontario Provincial Police were called to the farm in Brant County after a report of a break-in Saturday morning, after holes were cut into the walls of the farm and minks were let out of their cages.
“We are shocked that any person or group would commit such a cruel and irresponsible act. Most of these mink were nursing females; their newborn kits are all under two weeks old – some are only days old,” CMBA President Marianne Patten said in a release.
“They are completely dependent on their mothers for warmth and frequent feeding at this stage and many will die.”
The CMBA said a group calling itself the “Willow Pond Mink Freedom Movement” claimed responsibility for the “farm invasion” by posting on an animal “extremist website” that allegedly publicizes animal rights and criminal activities against the use of animals for food or other purposes.
“This is a despicable and irresponsible act,” Kirk Rankin, an Ontario mink farmer and former president of the CMBA, said in the statement.
“Several Ontario farms were attacked like this last summer. These criminals don’t think that people have a right to use animals, fine, but these are domesticated animals that have been raised on farms for more than 100 generations.
“They cannot fend for themselves in the wild, so most will die. And the few that do survive will endanger domesticated ducks or chickens in the region. Releasing nursing females is cruel and just plain stupid.”
But OPP Const. Ken Johnston said investigators don’t have any confirmation that the release of the mink was done by an animal extremist group.
“At this point we’re following every lead we have,” he said. “We’re not tunnel visioning and only looking at animal activist groups, we’re looking at everything.”
The CMBA said the standards of care for raising farmed mink in Canada are set out in a newly revised Code of Practice prepared by the National Farm Animal Care Council.
The not-for-profit association said the value of Canadian fur exports topped $300 million in 2015, with mink produced on more than 200 farms across Canada.
It added that more than 60,000 Canadians work in various sectors of the fur trade, as trappers, fur farmers, craftspeople and other support sectors.