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Thursday, September 17, 1998 Published at 20:09 GMT 21:09 UK


UK

Activists release 8,000 mink

Once recaptured the mink are returned to the farm


BBC News' George Eykyn: scores of escaped mink run over or shot
Animal rights activists are thought to be behind the release of up to 8,000 mink from a farm at Onneley in north Staffordshire.

Mink farmer Len Kelsall, 60, has slammed those responsible as "terrorists", saying that he was "utterly devastated" by the release which occurred shortly before 6am.


[ image: Local volunteers have been helping to capture the mink]
Local volunteers have been helping to capture the mink
More than 3,500 cages had been hacked open but 5,000 mink have been contained on Newhouse farm near Newcastle under Lyme.

The remainder escaped into the countryside and attempts are being made to catch them.


Len Kelsall: "The loss is horrendous"
Trolley full of carcasses

Mr Kelsall, standing by a supermarket trolley full of carcasses recovered from surrounding roads and fields, said: "This is not animal rights, this is animal cruelty.


Staffordshire police spokesman on their efforts to deal with the situation
"These people are terrorists, targeting people who run legitimate businesses."

The mink are farmed for sale on the Russian fur market where they fetch £15 per pelt.

The distraught farmer said: "I've had this farm for 40 years and I have asked these people to come in to see the farm and see how the animals are kept.


[ image: Local residents have been warned to keep pets and small children indoors]
Local residents have been warned to keep pets and small children indoors
"This farm is not cruel - but this is," he said, holding up the carcass of a dead mink. "Yesterday this was a healthy, happy male mink. Now look at it."


The BBC's Ishbel Matheson: Mink leave trail of havoc
Police have issued an urgent warning to residents and motorists to keep their doors and windows shut and not to approach the animals which could attack domestic pets. They have asked to be informed of any sightings.


Toni Vernelli of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals: Supports release
A police spokesman said: "Scenes of crime officers are at the scene and we are investigating the possibility that his was done by animal rights activists, but as yet no-one has admitted it.

"We would advise the public to avoid the area at all costs."

The animals are causing chaos on the roads around the farm.

RSPCA condemn 'foolhardy' release

The RSPCA is assisting in the operation to round up the animals. Its spokesman said the release was "extremely foolhardy".

He said both the escaped animals and the surrounding wildlife would suffer as a result.


Noted vegetarian Alan Clark MP: "Mink farms are cruel"
"The mink will be extremely distressed as they are arm-trained animals not used to being in the wild.

"They are also effective predators and this could be catastrophic for the local wildlife. Especially vulnerable is the water vole, whose numbers have fallen drastically over the last few years."

Second release

In August about 7,000 mink were released in to the New Forest following two attacks on Crow Hill farm near Ringwood, Hampshire.

The animals killed pets and even attacked a fisherman. Thousands were recaptured but many were shot by desperate landowners.

Police are liaising over the two incidents.



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Relevant Stories

18 Aug 98†|†UK
Activists warn of more mink releases

16 Aug 98†|†UK
More mink freed

11 Aug 98†|†UK
Anti-fur campaigners slam mink release

09 Aug 98†|†UK
Animal rights group claims responsibility for mink release

08 Aug 98†|†UK
Mink terrorise Hampshire after farm release





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Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals


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