VAN WERT, Ohio -- Thousands of mink have been let loose in an Ohio community.
While the small mammals may look gentle, people living there worry the animals are going to wreak havoc in the wild.
The mink are on the run.
Tuesday, Van Wert police released a statement saying around 25 to 40,000 mink were released from their cages at Lion Farms USA Mink Farm in Van Wert, Ohio.
Mink may look furry and friendly, but people in the area tell me what they've seen is not pretty.
"The squirrel had its face chewed off and that mink was eating it," said Zavier Buzard.
Buzard lives in Van Wert and said mink may be detrimental to the local environment.
"If they survive, if they can feed themselves and stay warm with the winter upcoming, they are going to wreak havoc on populations of the small game for sure," Buzard added.
Tuesday evening, WPTA spoke with the farm's manager, Eddie Meyer, who declined a request for an on-camera interview.
Meyer said around 80% of the mink have been captured or stayed in their cages. However, he said they will have to shoot and kill the mink because they are susceptible to disease once outside of the cage.
Meyer said they have the cooperation of local police.
"If an individual has mink on their property, it may be a situation where they feel it's appropriate for a trapper to come and resolve the issue that way, they should do that. But a property owner that is faced with a different circumstance with mink coming on their property, they can take the steps they need to, to protect what they have," said Van Wert County Sheriff Tom Riggenbach.
When it comes to the group or individual responsible for vandalizing the farm and releasing the mink, police said it's still under investigation.
Meyer believes ALF, or the Animal Liberation Front, is responsible because of a spray-painted message that was found on the farm.
Buzard said if the vandals intention was to save the mink, they've done the exact opposite.
"They are either going to die of the cold or die of starvation. Let's say a number of them do live, they are gonna get trapped and gonna get shot because hunters, trappers and conservationists, we don't want a bunch of mink running around here," Buzard said.