DECLO, Idaho -- Ranchers are frustrated after an extreme animal rights group broke into a mink ranch in Declo, Idaho, and released thousands of animals from their cages.
Mark Moyle is the manager at the Moyle Mink Ranch. "I was downright upset!"
He found a surprising scene Monday morning. About 20 percent of his animals had been let loose from their cages. Some were still on the ranch, but many of those had run through holes in the outer fence.
"What they did is, they came in from the south side, cut that perimeter fence up on that side," said Moyle. "After they did that, they came in and opened up the pens over on this side here, six sheds of pens. That's 3,600 mink that escaped."
Moyle also found breeding papers thrown into a pile, severely hampering their breeding programs.
Moyle says they've recovered about 90 percent of the mink, but some are still showing up at neighbors, and some they're finding killed on the road. Moyle says that's because the animals are used to being fed by machines, and so they run right to the oncoming cars.
"These people are releasing mink and they're domesticated animals out there," said Moyle. "Unfortunately, what they did wasn't humane because now they're getting run over on the highway."
Claiming responsibility is the Animal Liberation Front, an extreme animal rights group that also claimed responsibility for arson at a Middleton fur shop in 2011.
"They're just terrorists, plain and simple," said Cassia County Undersheriff George Warrell. "They're a terrorist group. They do a lot of damage, and in an area like this where we have a rural farm-base community, that really affects us."
Warrell is concerned that this could happen again at another mink ranch in the area or another livestock operation. That's why he's asking everyone in the county to be on the lookout for suspicious activity. "We want to stop it before it happens."
While the Animal Liberation Front is taking responsibility, the members of that group are all anonymous, and Warrell will only call them suspects at this point. He says they are pursuing leads right now and there are other agencies investigating as well.