Hundreds of mink released from Iowa farm

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Animal rights activists free 1,200 mink

Fur farm in Bremer County has recovered 600 animals

By REBECCA KLINE, Waterloo (IA) Courier

WAVERLY - A militant animal rights group has claimed responsibility for the release of more than 1,200 domesticated mink from a fur farm in Bremer County.

The Animal Liberation Front, a Canadian-based group, said its members freed the animals. The group made the statement in a press release issued Sunday and reported on the Fur Commission USA Web site.

Owner Nick Demuth said today about 600 mink have been recovered since their release sometime late Saturday night or early Sunday morning.

"The exact method of how they got in is still under investigation," Demuth said. "They entered and removed almost the entire guard fence that would have kept the mink in if they got out."

Pens were cut or wires were removed from pens allowing the animals to escape.

Demuth, 59, has been a part-time mink farmer for about 30 years. The operation is located about 10 miles north of Waverly.

Demuth said about 50 people turned up to assist in the recovery effort. Though several of the animals were hit and killed on the nearby highway, others are being found in good health.

"So far the animals have been in pretty good condition," he said. "The weather has been cool, so they are doing well."

However, Demuth said the longer the domesticated mink are in the wild, the worse off they will be.

"Another 24 hours and things will be deteriorating pretty quickly for the animals," he said.

The Bremer County Sheriff's Department, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Iowa State Patrol and Iowa Department of Natural Resources are investigating. Police advise the public to contact law enforcement officers if they come in contact with a mink because the animals could bite if cornered or picked up.

Demuth was uncertain how much money the farm would lose.

"We are itemizing things as we go here with what is involved financially," he said. "It is going to be substantial it appears."

In September 2000, about 14,000 minks were released near New Hampton. Animal Liberation Front at that time said a local chapter claimed responsibility.

After that release, Demuth said he had two dogs on the premise, but they disappeared last winter. No other precautions were taken, he said.

The animal rights group last year also released hundreds of mink in Hamilton County and water fowl and pigeons in Mills County in southwest Iowa.

Officials are asking anyone with information concerning the incident to contact the Bremer County Sheriff's Department at (319) 352-5400.
 

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