Up to 8,000 mink are on the loose after escaping from a Pennsylvania farm, posing a serious threat to wildlife and pets in the community.
Sometime between midnight and 7 a.m. Sunday, an unknown vandal sneaked onto the Rockefeller Township fur farm to cut holes in the fence surrounding the enclosure Pennsylvania State Police.
Between 6,000 and 8,000 mink scurried from their pens into the forested community about 85 miles northwest of Allentown.
The prison break sparked an intensive search involving numerous agencies in a race against time to recapture the weasels.
The tiny creatures are considered one of the state’s “most efficient predators,” according to the Pennsylvania Game Commission.
“They are agile and fierce fighters, killing prey with a hard bite to the back of the head,” the government said.
Their preferred food includes mice, voles and muskrats. They are also known to hunt rabbits, fowl and fish – but will take anything they can get.
“In general, a mink is an opportunist, feeding on whatever is easiest to catch or find,” the PGC said.
Due to her aggressive nature, Sunbury Animal Hospital warned residents not to approach the mink.
“When a mink approaches, you move far away from it. If possible, keep all pets indoors. Monitor your pets when they are outside,” the hospital said said on Facebook.
“If someone catches a mink, it can be taken to the veterinary clinic dead or alive. Again, do not approach these animals or try to catch them by hand.”
Some of the minks have been recovered, but rescuers have not yet been able to harm the escaped population that is running amok in the community.
The problem is so bad that Senator Lynda Schlegel Culver (right) and Representative Michael Stender (right) have set up a hotline to speed up the mink hunt.
The police are still looking for the perpetrator or perpetrators against whom charges have been brought for criminal damage to agriculture.
Last year, 10,000 mink were released under similar circumstances after vandals destroyed the fence around a farm in Ohio.
Many of the animals were killed by fast-moving cars before they could enjoy their newfound freedom.