Animal rights activists broke into a mink farm and released hundreds of the animals from their pens, police have reported.
Lindsey McMullin said "animal rights terrorists" hit his South Jordan farm the morning of Aug. 19 and released about 600 mink. Breeding records were also destroyed, he said.
Most of the mink were recovered, but several died after being hit by cars or from stress after they were returned to the farm, McMullin said. Others were dehydrated and lethargic.
"I would like to have every one of those guys who attacked my farm go out with me to recover these animals and see the damage they've done," McMullin said.
The press office for the Animal Liberation Front posted a statement from "a local soldier out of Utah" saying 300 mink had been released and breeding records destroyed. The loose-knit group opposes fur farms, contending they treat the animals cruelly before they are killed for their pelts.
The group doesn't know who posted the note, said spokeswoman Camille Hankins.
"These are done by underground activist groups who have a vested interest in remaining anonymous," Hankins said, adding that those involved are supposed to adhere to a credo of not harming animals or people.
South Jordan police declined to provide details about the case, saying investigators did not want to give additional publicity to those responsible. No arrests have been made, Lt. Matt Evans said.
There was a rash of vandalisms at mink farms in the late 1990s. In one case, the Fur Breeder's Cooperative in nearby Sandy was bombed. In others, thousands of mink were released from private farms.
The McMullin farm specializes in raising black mink for use in cold-weather clothing, according to Teresa Platt, director of Fur Commission USA, a trade group representing about 300 mink farms in 24 states.
More than 600,000 mink are raised each year at 66 mink farms in Utah, she said.