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2,000 mink released from farm near New Holstein

Bob Zimbal holds one of his minks near rows of sheds at his fur farm in Sheboygan Falls. Zimbal's Mink Ranch is listed in the online publication 'The Final Nail' supported by the activist group Animal Liberation Front which endorses the destruction of fur farms. / AP

NEW HOLSTEIN - Police say about 2,000 mink were released from a fur farm early Saturday morning in Calumet County.

Calumet County Sheriff's deputies arrived to the area around 4:45 a.m. Saturday after 911 callers said the mink were loose on the roadway.

The Bonlander Furs farm was the site of the "intentional release" on Foundry Road in New Holstein, according to police. By Saturday afternoon, about 1,500 of the mink had been captured.

A 100-person crew of family, friends and other mink farmers were busy Saturday locating the loose Mink in traps and by hand, said Virginia Bonlander, who owns the ranch with her husband Gary.

"You have to wear heavy gloves and work them back into the mink sheds," Bonlander said. "They're very fast and very sly."

The Bonlanders have operated the farm since 1978 and have about 5,000 mink on the property. Most are shipped to Toronto for hats, coats and jackets.
A single mink can sell for up to $150 at auction, Bonlander said, and the individuals that released the mink likely had an agenda.

Wisconsin mink farms have been the target of animal rights activist groups in the past, and some endorse destruction of the farms. The Bonlander Ranch is listed on an online publication "The Final Nail" supported by the Animal Liberation Front.

"Whoever did it wrecked some of the latches on the cages, the wires were bent way over and some of the boxes were thrown out on the ground," Bonlander said.

The Sheriff's Department and FBI are investigating the incident.
— Nick Penzenstadler: 920-996-7226, or; on Twitter @npenzenstadler

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