State police say thousands of minks were released from a central Pennsylvania fur farm by one or more people who cut holes in the fence surrounding the farm.
Police in the Stonington barracks in Northumberland County said Monday that troopers were called to the Richard H. Stahl Sons Inc. farm in Rockefeller Township outside of Sunbury shortly after noon Sunday.
Troopers were told that sometime during the early morning hours Sunday, holes had been cut in the farm's fence and about 6,000 to 8,000 minks were released from their pens. Police said numerous state agencies and farm staff are trying to recover the animals.
The Sunbury Animal Hospital posted a notice on its Facebook page Monday morning saying, "There are mink all over the area surrounding the animal hospital."
"These animals should not be approached as they can be aggressive," the animal hospital said. "They are not pets, and should not be taken in a home or to a rescue. If one of these minks were to approach you get far away from it. Keep all pets inside if possible."
The Daily Item reported that Mark Stahl of the Stahl fur farm would only say he was unsure what happened and warned people not to approach the animals. An email message from The Associated Press seeking comment was sent to the company; a telephone message could not be left for the firm.
State police said they had opened a criminal mischief investigation and asked anyone with information to call investigators.
Cassie Marks of Sunbury told The Daily Item that she helped capture four of the animals to return to the hospital.
"We did not touch the animals," she said. "We just wanted to help out here."
In November, vandalism freed an estimated 10,000 minks at a rural northwest Ohio farm. Van Wert County Sheriff Thomas Riggenbach said the property owner initially estimated 25,000 to 40,000 mink were released at Lion Farms, but employees were able to corral many that remained on the property less than 15 miles from the Indiana state line.
So many minks were killed crossing a nearby road that a plow was brought in to help clear the carcasses away, Riggenbach said.