On 17th September 2023, between 6,000 and 8,000 minks were released by an unknown person who cut a hole in a fence of a fur farm in Rockefeller Township, 60 miles north of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, US. Two days later, it is believed most of the escaped minks had been recaptured by the fur farmers, as many had remained close to the farm and were rounded up. The motive for the break-in at the rural farm owned by Richard H. Stahl Sons Inc. is unknown, but liberating minks from farms is something that some animal rights groups have done in the past.
A spokesperson for the Sunbury Animal Hospital in Rockefeller Township told Pennsylvania’s Fox56 that only a few hundred of the animals were still on the loose. As these are American mink, although some may die after being freed it is more likely that some will survive and be mixed with local populations than if they had been released in Europe, where American mink are also kept captive for their fur in countries where they are considered alien species. None of the thousands of minks recaptured will survive, though, as they will all be killed for their fur.
In November 2022, up to 40,000 minks were set free in Van Wert county in Ohio. The animal rights group PETA has been campaigning against fur farming, stating that farmed minks are kept in miserable conditions in “dismal, often filthy places where thousands of animals are usually kept in wire cages for their entire lives…The anguish and frustration of life in a cage leads many animals to self-mutilate, biting at their skin, tail and feet; frantically pace and circle endlessly; and even cannibalize their cagemates.”
Mink farming has been banned in many European countries. The last one to do so was Bulgaria. France did the same in November 2021. The European Citizens’ Initiative Fur Free Europe has called for a total ban on all fur farms and all fur products from the European market (there is a petition for this purpose).