MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A farmer says the escape of thousands of animals from his central Minnesota farm will cost him more than $750,000.

Someone released more than 30,000 mink from a farm in Eden Valley. Some of the animals have been recaptured, but this crime could have a bigger impact on the area.

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Dan Lang believes his mink farm was targeted.

“They were on a mission when they did this. They knew what they were doing,” Lang said. “They took down the fence in three different areas.”

Lang says someone used the cover of darkness to invade his property and release 30,000 to 40,000 mink.

“We have mink dying,” he said.

Mink found dead in Eden Valley (credit: CBS)

Lang and his family are now in recovery mode, with neighbors, friends and complete strangers helping to track down the animals.

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“They just say, ‘Hey, we got one of your mink. We’re watching it for you til you get here,'” he said. “They mean everything to our family. We’ve been doing this since 1936 and this is all that … this is what I do.”

Sadly, Lang believes more than half of his mink will die. He says whoever thought they were saving the animals by setting them free actually sentenced them to death.

“There are groups out there that are strongly opposed to this type of commercial operations for raising mink,” said Stearns County Chief Deputy Jon Lentz.

The sheriff’s office is working with its state and federal partners to track down the people responsible for this crime.

“Right next to the farm is a wildlife management area and wildlife preservation area,” Lentz said. “We think perhaps from what we’ve developed out there that maybe that’s the way they came onto the farm.”

He says no one has claimed responsibility for releasing the mink.

Fur Commission USA is offering a $10,000 reward for information leading the arrest of the persons responsible for this crime.

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Anyone with information is urged to call the Stearns County Sheriff’s office.

Reg Chapman