3 Utahns with animal-rights group claim they freed minks

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KAYSVILLE - Three Utah members of the Animal Liberation Front claimed credit Monday for breaking into a Kaysville farm early Sunday, destroying property and releasing thousands of minks.

A statement posted on the ALF Web site states that the group entered the farm, released the minks and destroyed all breeding records. It states that they destroyed an electrical fence, vandalized trucks and equipment and cut about 100 holes in the perimeter fence.

The FBI has labeled ALF a domestic terrorist organization. The group has resorted to arson and the use of explosives to protest what they call the exploitation of animals for fur, food and lab testing.

Juan Becerra, spokesman for the the FBI's Salt Lake City office, said his bureau was assisting local detectives, but that it was too early in the investigation to speculate on "subjects or suspects" involved.

The FBI and Kaysville police began conducting interviews into the break-in but have not identified any group or person involved, they said. The Davis County Sheriff's Office is handling animal control.

Kaysville Capt. Paul Miya said Monday afternoon that there were no suspects whatsoever. After hearing of the news release, he said, "It's something we'll look into, but I don't give [ALF] a lot of credit for what they say."

Lt. Brad Wilcox with the Davis County Sheriff's Office said all but about 500 of the 6,000 minks released from Lodder Fur Farm had been recovered by Monday. About 500 of the minks died of heat exhaustion.

The break-in was the second recently in which minks were released in Utah and for which the ALF has taken credit. The other case occurred Aug. 19 in South Jordan and is still under investigation. The culprits there destroyed breeding records, and many of the minks died from stress or being hit by cars. Meanwhile, in the Kaysville area, Wilcox said the Davis County Sheriff's Office and animal control have been inundated with calls from residents in the west part of Kaysville and in Farmington west of Interstate 15 who have reported minks showing up in their yards.

Davis County animal control field supervisor Bryan Smith said he has received calls from locations up to 7 miles from the farm, which is near Shepard Lane and Sunset Drive.

"All day today, we've been getting calls on them," he said.

At least two animal control officers have been fielding those calls and catching the minks with nets. At least 40 were rounded up Sunday and 19 were captured Monday morning. "They're real fragile animals," Wilcox said. "They shouldn't be in this area naturally."

Anyone who finds minks in the yard should call Davis County Animal Services at 801-444-2200.