Fur Commission USA and CrimeStoppers are offering an $11,000 reward for information leading to those who released approximately 38,000 minks from a farm in Stearns County this week.

The reward comes after vandals invaded Lang Farms near Eden Valley under the cover of darkness late Sunday or early Monday and set loose the fur-bearing minks valued at more than $750,000.

Thousands of the minks have died, and continue to die, from heat and stress as well as dehydration, said Michael Whelan, executive director of the mink farmers’ national trade association. As domesticated livestock, the minks are not equipped to live outside the farm environment, where they are fed, watered and cared for daily, he said.

“Anyone who thinks they are helping the animals by doing this are severely misinformed,” Whelan said. “This is a crime against the animals as much as against the Lang family.”

The large majority of the animals that died were still juveniles and many had not yet been weaned from their mothers. Those that have survived continue to suffer from dehydration and stress and many more will die in the coming weeks, Whelan said.

Whelan said the incident falls under the Federal Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act statute and is being investigated by the Stearns County Sheriff’s Office as well as the FBI. Fur Commission USA is offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for the attack and Tri-County CrimeStoppers is offering up to $1,000.

Residents who see any minks loose in the area are asked not to approach them but to notify Lang Farms LLC so that experienced mink handlers may recapture the animals.

The Lang family has been raising minks for four generations.

Anybody with information is asked to call the Stearns County Sheriff’s Office at 320-251-4240 or Tri-County CrimeStoppers at 800-255-1301.