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Community on edge as released mink wander on properties

By Maria Miller

CAMBRIA TOWNSHIP -- A federal investigation is underway to track down the people who released hundreds of mink from the Rykola Farm in Cambria Township late Tuesday night.

The Animal Liberation Front has already claimed responsibility. It's an anonymous, radical group known nationally for trespassing, vandalizing and sometimes destroying property in an attempt to "free" any animal used by humans.

6 News stopped by the Rykola's farm Friday morning. They said they have their guard up and are worried they'll be attacked again. In the meantime, the community is on edge as some mink have started wandering onto properties.

"Actually, you don't even know it's there," said Steve Sral, who lives nearby. "There's no smell or nothing."

Sral and his family have lived near the Rykola's farm for more than a decade. He told 6 News it wasn't until just a few years ago that he found out what the farm really was.

"It's back in the distance, off in the woods," said Sral. "It just looks like a farm. That's it."

According to the state, there are 11 mink farms in Pennsylvania. The Rkola's isn't the only one in Cambria County. There are three others -- in Carrolltown, one in Nicktown and another near Ebensburg. The Fur Commission USA told 6 News Thursday that mink, especially those that are tame, are scared of humans but could attack pets.

"They're territorial so they'll kill small animals," said Michael Whelan, executive director of the Fur Commission. "They'll kill cat, they'll kill chickens and nesting birds because they're an aggressive animal."

And that's exactly what Sral fears.

"We have a couple chickens and cats running around all the time in the barn, so yes, we're worried," said Sral.

Just down the road at a neighboring home, police said a Samoyed got into a fight with a mink. The owner didn't want to go on camera but told 6 News her dog was attacked by the animal and fought with it for more than an hour until police came and shot it.

While many people in the area say they have the same fears, they say it's also upsetting that something so awful would happen in their community.

"Those people, that's their livelihood. That their livelihood down the drain," said Sral.

Because this attack is considered a federal crime and the group claiming responsibility is on the domestic terrorist watch list, the FBI will be assisting the Cambria Township Police Department with the investigation. Until then, anyone who feels threatened by a mink can call 9-1-1. 

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Edgar Snyder

Washington Times