MSNBC has a story on the mink released near Seattle earlier this year. I posted on the story in September and followed up a couple of weeks ago, but this piece has a few interesting notes. Among them:
THE ESCAPEES STINK to high heaven, but that is the least of [Washington native] Weaver’s complaints. They have slaughtered dozens of his ducks and chickens, feasted on fingerling salmon in his creek and had the temerity to bite his dog in the throat. One of them leaped out of the shadows and scratched his arm. “For the size of the animal, I have never seen such a killer,” said Weaver, 48, a laid-off Boeing worker who now works as a fishing guide. “They are brutal little guys.”
In the first few hours after the minks got loose, cars squashed a couple hundred of them. Kate Roesler, whose husband has helped run the fur farm here for 25 years, explained why so many minks ran into oncoming traffic.
“We feed them from motorized carts,” she said. “They have been conditioned to associate the sound of a motor with food.”
Jeffery Weaver, who owns a pair of night-vision goggles, has observed them adapting, with apparent aplomb, to life on the wild side.
He said he has sat up all night on his wooded, creek-braided three-acre property and, wearing his night-vision gear, watched minks nibble on ripe blackberries, catch small salmon and kill his ducks.
However, some of those that have eluded capture seem to be adapting.
“A few weeks ago, when they first got out, they were freaked,” Weaver said. “Now, some of them are starting to do quite well.”
Ruth Milner, district biologist for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, agrees that some of the minks will probably be able to carve out a niche for themselves in the foothills of the Cascades. The area is laced with rivers and rich in fish, rodents and other small mammals upon which minks prey.
“There is a pretty brutal learning curve for predators in the wild,” Milner said. “But if they survive the first few months or get through the first winter, they’ll probably make it.”
I imagine that a number of the minks are going to make it through the winter and go on to live in the wild. The article notes that there are already wild mink in the area, so apparently the setting is good and if the escapees can be assimilated into the local population, they’ll have it made.
What if all 10,000 had remained on the loose, however? If residents are seeing (and smelling) trouble now, what would it be like with ten times as many of the little guys on the loose? More would have survived, based on the large number, but I doubt the percentage would be as high as it will now. And I doubt the percentage is going to be all that high the way it is.
While not at all apologizing for the fur industry, this is not the way to help. And as long as extremist groups like the Animal Liberation Front, who performed the break, carry on like this, the more level-headed proponents of animal rights are not going to be a able to make much headway.