Mink farming’s days are numbered in BC, where public health concerns have led to the decision to end the practice.
According to a release from the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries shared on Friday, November 5, BC is set to completely ban mink farming.
The mink-farming industry will be phased out because of the risks associated with COVID-19.
Data from the BC Centre for Disease Control points to a potential for the “SARS-CoV-2 virus to mutate in mink and be passed back to people,” according to the release. The province is also concerned that future mutations could impact vaccine effectiveness.
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“This decision follows the recommendations of public health officials and infectious disease experts about managing the threat of the virus for workers at the farms and the broader public,” said Lana Popham, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries.
“Our government will work with affected farmers and workers to help them pursue other farming, business or job opportunities that support their families.”
Next steps include a permanent ban on breeding mink followed by a permanent ban on live mink farms by April 2023.
All operations must be ended and all pelts sold by 2025. The province will work with farmers to help support them in transitioning to new jobs, careers, or trades and licensed fur farms can get support through the province’s AgriStability income protection program.
“Public health supports government’s decision to take this action at this time for the safety of the broader population,” said Dr. Bonnie Henry, provincial health officer.
“Public health has been monitoring and managing outbreaks related to mink farming along with the Ministry of Agriculture and WorkSafeBC, but as this remains an ongoing public health issue, we believe the risk is too great for operations to continue as they were,” said Dr. Henry.
“This is a significant day for tens of thousands of mink being kept and killed for their pelts, and shows that the threats created by fur farming are being acknowledged by government,” said The Fur-Bearers, a wildlife defending organization, in reaction to the news.
“It is important to note this does decision keeps mink on farms for over a year, and does not include all species that can legally be farmed for fur in BC,” they said in a release.