by SUSAN MANN
The Canada Mink Breeders Association has posted a $100,000 reward for information leading to the capture and prosecution of animal rights’ extremists who released 500 mink from a Brant County-area fur farm on the weekend.
In a May 3 press release, the organization says a group calling itself the ‘Mink Freedom Movement’ has claimed responsibility for the animals’ release.
The mink breeders association is the national non-profit group representing mink farmers across Canada.
In an April 30 release, the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) in Brant County say they were called to a farm on Maple Grove Road around 7 a.m. Saturday to investigate an overnight break in.
The vandals got into the farm’s barn by cutting holes in the walls sometime overnight Friday or Saturday morning, allowing 500 mink to leave, the release says. Many of the mink have been recovered, however it’s unlikely their recently-born kits (baby mink) will live, because “it’s impossible to ensure to they have been matched with the proper mother.”
The total number of kits affected is unknown, the OPP release says. “This is a very sad incident,” the report said. The vandals’ actions mean many newborn kits won’t live.
Alan Herscovici, Fur Council of Canada executive vice president, called the animal extremists action to release the mink, “stupid and irresponsible. Many of the released mink are nursing females. The kits are totally dependent on their mothers at this age for warmth to survive and for food.”
The fur council is a non-profit organization representing the fur trade.
Mink will sometimes adopt and care for youngsters they didn’t give birth to, but “it’s the luck of the draw,” he says. The stress of their mothers’ release will begin to impact the kits in the coming days. Many will die.
“From an animal welfare perspective, the mink release is just terrible,” Herscovici says.
Herscovici says the people responsible for the mink release should also face animal cruelty charges along with other charges.
“These are people who claim to care about animals and they’ve acted out of complete ignorance and lack of concern for the welfare of the animals,” he notes. “It’s just disgraceful.”
Ontario fur farmer Kirk Rankin, former president of the mink breeders association, says roughly 400 mink of the 500 released from the Brant County farm had kits, which range in age from one to 10 days old. The mothers usually nurse the kits for five to six weeks.
Mink have six or more kits each, Rankin says.
The minks’ release also damages the farm’s breeding program. The breeding information is posted on each of the animals’ cages and it’s impossible to tell which animal goes into each cage. The mink are too small to have identification tags attached to them.
“You don’t know who belongs to which cage and it wrecks the pedigree system altogether,” he says.
Rankin and Herscovici say the animal rights extremists broke into the farm last summer and made a video that were posted on YouTube. The farm also received threats that were called into police.
Rankin’s farm near St. Marys was one of two fur farms broken into last spring and summer. Extremists released 8,400 mink in those incidents.
After those incidents, many mink farmers beefed up their security and they’re planning to make additional investments in to secure their farms because of this incident, Rankin says.
Herscovici says it was likely the same people who broke into the two Southern Ontario farms in 2015, which broke into the Brant County farm on the weekend. “There aren’t many people ready to do such criminal and heartless activity. No one was caught last summer so one would presume it’s the same people at it again.”
Mink are produced on more than 200 farms across Canada, the mink breeders association release says. The Canadian fur trade was valued at $300 million in 2015. BF