Moffat County mink farm relocation proposal causing a stink

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— A mink farm is causing controversy in Moffat County.

A group of farmers brought a proposal before Moffat County commissioners Tuesday to re-establish their mink farm in a new location.

The mink farm currently is in the Western Knolls subdivision, an agricultural community about 8 miles west of Craig. But community members next to the existing mink farm and near the proposed site spoke against the proposal and requested that commissioners deny the farmers a conditional permit.

They complained about the conduct of the farmers and the maintenance of the farm — namely, that the smell of mink feces was offensive, that escaped mink were dangerous to children and that they were concerned about water being contaminated.

James Gore, who leases the property for the proposed site, said the plans for the new farm are to maintain it meticulously; therefore, it would not pose a problem to neighbors. Since it would be under a conditional lease, complaints by neighbors would stop the operation, incentivizing the farmers to be diligent.

“We’re trying to keep the smell down,” he said about the farm where it exists now. Many neighbors in the new location “don’t have a problem with it as long as we have it under control.”

Husband and wife Lanny and Janice Lambrecht contested.

“I’m not opposed to the mink farm operation, just opposed to it being in our neighborhood,” Lanny Lambrecht said. “Consider whether you would or wouldn’t want this sort of operation near your house.”

Monte Ages, who has been building the new mink sheds on the new mink property, said neighbors misunderstand the situation.

“We have not tried to go under the radar in any way,” he said.

They started building the mink sheds before they got a permit but didn’t attempt to move the mink, Ages said.

“We’re just trying to make a living,” he said.

If they can’t set up in the new location or stay in Western Knolls until December — when they have a contract to sell mink — the farmers will have to kill the animals early, making the fur worthless.

“If we kill them ahead of time, those pelts are worthless,” he said.

Gore introduced a map of the property and the location of the mink farm to the commissioners. Neighbors would have plenty of distance from the central operation, he said.

But Janice Lambrecht disputed the idea that the map could indicate the whole problem.

“It doesn’t show on the maps which direction the wind blows,” she said.

Ryan Venzke lives next to the farm and complained about how it’s been managed. He called into question the maintenance of the farm and the conduct of the farmers.

It got so bad that he can’t imagine keeping his family there if it remains in Western Knolls, Venzke said.

“I can’t stand to live there another year,” he said. “You can’t stand the smell of it.”

The farm was supposed to be relocated in June, said Moffat County Commissioner Chuck Grobe. It remains at Western Knolls, so Grobe said he was not pleased with how the mink farmers have handled the situation.

“I’d like to see the operation go on, but I have a problem with how this has gone on,” he said.

Grobe opted to table the issue for at least another week so he could determine what the legal implications of handing over a conditional permit would be.

“I have a couple legal issues I want answered,” he said.

The mink farm issue will be discussed again at Tuesday’s Moffat County commissioner meeting.

Erin Fenner can be reached at 970-875-1794 or efenner@CraigDailyPress.com.

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