Mink farmers in BC are decrying the government’s decision to end husbandry of the small animals grown for their fur, saying their industry is being unfairly targeted.
Last week, the BC government announced it’s permanently banning mink farming by forbidding mink breeding, prohibiting live mink on farms by April 2023, and mandating that operations cease and all pelts be sold by 2025.
The Canada Mink Breeders Association (CMBA) issued a statement on Saturday alleging the government is over-exaggerating the risk of COVID-19 tied to mink farms and is instead bowing to pressure from animal rights lobbyists.
“This arbitrary and radical decision by the BC government is simply devastating for farm families,” CMBA president Rob Bollert said. “It takes generations of work, including excellent nutrition and care … to develop the quality of mink that Canada is famous for — and these bureaucrats are destroying all that effort.”
BC health officials say they’re putting an end to mink farming because SARS-CoV-2 can thrive in mink populations, and there’s potential for the virus to mutate and be passed back to people.
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There are nine mink farms in BC, and animals at three of them tested positive for the virus in July 2021. Workers at two of the farms also tested positive for COVID-19, and at that time, the government put a moratorium on new mink farms.
Now, the BC government says the COVID-19 risk is too great to continue allowing mink farming.
The association of mink farmers, however, asked why instances of swine flu or avian flu haven’t led to shutdowns of pork or poultry farms. They also questioned why the pelts must be sold by 2025, saying that the fur alone can’t carry SARS-CoV-2.
“This will mean that farmers will be forced to kill perfectly healthy herds of animals,” Bollert said.
Of course, the farmed mink would have died early anyway. The animals have a lifespan of 10 to 12 years, but farmed mink kittens born in the spring are typically killed for their fur in the first winter they’re alive — when it thickens for the cold, according to the BC SPCA.
Across Canada, there are 60 mink farms, and Bollert said SARS-CoV-2 has been detected on approximately 5% of them. COVID-19 outbreaks also ravaged European mink farms earlier in the pandemic, leading to massive culls of the animals.