Thousands of mink are on the loose near Eden Valley after someone set them free from a Minnesota farm.
Between 30,000 and 40,000 mink were released from Lang Farms, the Stearns County Sheriff's Office said in a news release. The farm raises mink for their pelts.
All told the mink are worth more than $750,000.
The sheriff's office says an unknown person entered the farm sometime between 10:30 p.m. Sunday and 5:30 a.m. Monday. They took down part of the exterior fence that surrounds the barns and then let all the mink out of their cages.
They'll probably die in the wild
Officials say the mink were released near wildlife management and wilderness preservation areas, but that doesn't necessarily mean they'll go on to live happy lives outside of captivity – the sheriff's office says they'll probably die.
"Because the mink were domesticated they will not survive in the wild, though some mink may survive initially and may be loose in the area," the release says.
Residents who see mink in the area are advised not to try to capture them, because they might bite. Lang Farms is asking people to call them at 320-453-4750 to let an experienced mink handler capture the animals.
Stearns County Sheriff Don Gudmundson told the Star Tribune he suspects animal rights activists are responsible letting the mink free.
“These nitwits think they are doing something good," Gudmundson told the paper.
It wouldn't be the first time – back in 2015, two people were arrested for releasing mink from a Minnesota farm as part of a cross-country "anti-fur spree" that lasted two years.
Anyone with information is asked to call the Stearns County Sheriff's Office at 320-251-4240 or Tri-County Crimestoppers at 1-800-255-1301. There's a reward of up to $1,000 for information leading to an arrest.