When Don Rings stepped outside his condominium in the Christina Villas subdivision early in the morning of July 6, he got quite a surprise.

He also believes he found the answer to a question that has been puzzling him and his neighbors, he said.

"I couldn't believe what I was seeing -- it was a mink," Rings said. "I took a picture of it and a short while later, here were a few more."

The animals were making their way through the yards at his house and nearby residences, he said.

"I've never seen or heard about minks being in our area before," Rings said.

The Christina Villas development, near Hoover Road and Grove City High School, includes a small lake, and the residents typically enjoy the sight of baby ducklings.

"We haven't been seeing any this year," Rings said. "We're all wondering where all the ducks went."

One neighbor had a nest of duck eggs on her patio but woke one morning to find all of the eggs were gone, he said.

"I'm thinking it might be the minks who got at those eggs and may have gotten hold of other baby ducks," Rings said.

Minks are actually fairly common around central Ohio and all parts of the state, said Gary Comer, wildlife-management supervisor with District 1 Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

"They are a semi-aquatic animal, so they live near water, especially small streams, rivers and lakes," Comer said.

The animals are weasel- or ferret-like in appearance and typically are 2 feet in length, he said. Minks belong to the weasel family.

"They most often are nocturnal or early morning animals," Comer said. "It would be unusual for someone to see them during the day."

Like many wild animals, they also tend to stay away from humans, he said, but are around, even if people don't know it.

"There are all kinds of wildlife that are quite adaptable to living near humans," Comer said. "Coyotes are especially prevalent."

Where humans exist, sources of food for animals are available, which helps draw animals to suburban areas, he said. Minks are omnivores, meaning they eat both plants and animals, Comer said.

According to the ODNR wildlife website, minks typically eat small mammals, preferably muskrats, as well as birds, frogs, eggs, fish and crayfish.

Other animals may be responsible if the duckling population is being reduced at Christina Villas, Comer said.

"It may be more likely to be coyotes or some other predatory animals," he said.

"Minks are opportunistic, though, and if there's a source of food that's available to them, they may well come after it," Comer said.

Pet owners generally need not worry that minks could attack their dogs or cats, he said.

"They (minks) will protect themselves and their territory, so if they are attacked, they are going to fight back," Comer said. "As long as a dog or cat doesn't bother them, the minks are going to go their own way."

Rings said he would keep an eye out for minks -- or any other unexpected wildlife.

"If you pay attention, you never know what you'll see," he said.

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