As many as 8,000 mink are on the loose after escaping from a Pennsylvania farm — posing a serious threat to wildlife and pets in the community.
An unknown vandal crept onto the Rockefeller Township fur farm sometime between midnight and 7 a.m. Sunday to cut holes in the fence surrounding the enclosure, according to Pennsylvania State Police.
Between 6,000 and 8,000 mink scurried from their pens and into the wooded community, about 85 miles northwest of Allentown.
The jail break ignited an intense search involving numerous agencies in a race against time to recapture the weasels.
The tiny creatures are known as 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 skull,” the government said.
Their food of choice include mice, voles and muskrats and are also known to hunt down rabbits, poultry and fish — but will take whatever they can get.
“Generally, a mink is an opportunist, feeding on whatever is most easily caught or found,” the PGC said.
Because of their aggressive nature, the Sunbury Animal Hospital warned residents not to approach the mink.
“If a mink were to approach you get far away from it. Keep all pets inside if possible. Monitor your pets when they are outside,” the hospital said on Facebook.
“If anyone traps a mink, it can be brought to the animal hospital, dead or alive. Again do not approach theses animals or try to catch them by hand.”
Some of the mink have been recovered, but rescuers have not yet made a dent in the escaped population running amok in the township.
The issue is so dire that state Sen. Lynda Schlegel Culver (R) and state Rep. Michael Stender (R) established a hotline to expedite the mink hunt.
Police are still looking for the culprit or culprits, who will be charged with criminal mischief regarding agriculture.
Last year 10,000 mink were set free in similar circumstances after vandals destroyed fencing around an Ohio farm.
Many of the animals were killed by speeding cars before they could enjoy their newfound freedom.