Authorities say the release of nearly 10,000 minks from a ranch near Mount Angel was the act of well-trained eco-terrorists.
“They were professionals. It took a lot of people to do what they did,” said Rick Arritola, who owns the property.
Arritola and other farmers were able to retrieve about 1,300 mothers. But he said many mothers as well as their babies have died or will soon die in the wild. The babies weren’t weaned, he said.
The FBI has joined the investigation with the Marion County Sheriff’s Office.
“As far as I’m aware, no one has claimed responsibility,” FBI spokesman Pat Geonetta said Friday night.
The organization most often linked to this type of activity is the Animal Liberation Front, a militant animal rights group. A World Wide Web site claiming to be sponsored by the ALF is on the Internet with explicit instructions on how to attack fur farms and the industry.
“If scores of fur farms were raided, then the industry would be devastated and many would stop raising fur animals for fear of losing their entire investment,” according to the Web site. “Remember most fur farmers do this part time and are not solely dependent on fur animals to make a living. Therefore they are much easier to push out of business as opposed to a chicken farmer, etc.”
Marion County Sgt. David Hussey said Friday’s loss could amount to several hundred thousand dollars.