Animal rights activists are claiming responsibility for releasing approximately 6,000 mink from a fur farm in Aldergrove, B.C., over the weekend.
In a message on an animal rights website, activists called the fur industry cruel and inhumane, and said the release was part of something called "Operation Bite Back."
The website said the animals were freed near a park where they could survive, but the operators of the mink farm said the way the animals were released shows the people who carried out the action have no concern for their welfare.
The mink were born and bred in captivity and can't survive in the wild, and unless they are recaptured, they'll die of exposure or end up as road kill, the owners said on Thursday.
On Thursday, the bodies of numerous mink were already scattered along nearby 8th Avenue.
The farm owners had managed to recover all but 500 of the animals by mid-afternoon, but they said would have other problems to deal with now.
The farm had kept detailed breeding histories of the animals on each of their individual cages, but after they were freed, there was no way to tell which animal was from which pen.
This isn't the first time the Rippin fur farm has been targeted. In 1995, animal rights activists opened cages and cut mesh, freeing about 4,000 mink.
Langley RCMP Const. Peter Thiessen said those responsible for the latest release could face charges of mischief and trespassing if arrested.
But on the animal rights website a number of other Fraser valley farms were listed, along with the message "Shut them down".