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Hundreds of mink released from Cambria County farm

By Maria Miller

CAMBRIA TOWNSHIP, Pa. -- There could be hundreds of mink on loose in Cambria County after a fur farm near Ebensburg was raided earlier this week.

It happened at the Rykola Mink Farm in Cambria Township overnight Wednesday and a group on the national terrorist watch list has claimed responsibility.

Officials said mink are typically only aggressive if they're bothered. But the family dealing with this loss said they can't understand why they were attacked, saying they always put their animals first.

"An officer was responding to a call on Colver Road when they noticed several mink on the roadway running around," said Chief Mark Westrick of the Cambria Township Police Department.

Police tracked down the mink to the Rykola Mink farm in Cambria Township and discovered they were intentionally released.

"It is domestic terrorism," said Westrick. "It's unfortunate that they would target people like this. This farm has been in the area for more than 50 years."

Just how many mink were let go is unknown but the Animal Liberation Front, the group that's already claimed responsibility, said they released hundreds, citing filthy conditions and an unnatural environment.

Officials with the Fur Commission USA say it's not the first attack.

"The Animal Liberation Front itself is against all animal use by humans for any purposes," said Michael Whelen, executive director of Fur Commission USA. "They routinely burn down meat production facilities, they've attacked circuses and gone after the pet industry."

But the Rykolas told 6 News the mink were part of their family and safer with them than out in the wild.

"Not only is this an attack on a family farm, it's an attack on the animals," said Whelen. "These are domesticated animals. They don't know how to live in the wild, so not only do they die within 24 hours of dehydration, but they die painfully."

The Rykolas said they're devastated and can't understand why they would be targeted. They also denied all claims made by the ALF, saying their barns are clean and the animals are fed several times a day. But they didn't want to go camera, show 6 News the remaining mink or go inside their barns for fear of retaliation.

"I wouldn't want to be one of those guys that goes onto a farm right now in Cambria County," said Whelen. "Everyone is going to be on alert, on their toes. Nothing good is going to happen to the perpetrators."

Because the mink are tame -- raised from birth and cared for daily -- officials said they typically do not know how to hunt for themselves and farmers shouldn't be concerned.

Anyone who does see a mink on the loose should not go near it. They're asked to call Cambria Township police at 814-472-6040 or the Cambria County Non-Emergency number at 814-445-1525.

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Edgar Snyder

Washington Times