ACTION ITEM: Water quality below threshold in NS mink farm territory

Millions of mink make millions of pounds and litres of excrement and urine. And, in a relatively small area, that excrement and urine has to go somewhere. We’ve talked about the potential environmental devastation the mink farms of Canada could cause – and now there are numbers to prove it.

A recent study commissioned by the Nova Scotia Department of Environment is showing that watersheds in mink farm territories are showing unsafe levels of fecal coliform bacteria, nitrogen and phosphorous.

The Kings County News reported: “There are 13 existing mink farms within the watersheds surveyed. As part of the study, samples were collected from nearby watercourses.

Samples were collected in the mouth or close to tributaries entering the main rivers, as well as at a number of river sites that were accessible by road. Surveys of water quality within existing mink farm areas were also conducted.

The results showed the fecal coliform numbers were above the guideline for Protection of Agricultural Water use in the Habitant River watershed in all of the tested sites except the Sheffield Mills Marsh. Two of the four sites tested also had levels near or well above the Health Canada guidelines for contact during recreational activities.

Of the 33 tributaries sampled of the Annapolis River watershed, 30 had levels above the fecal coliform levels for protection of agricultural use and 14 were above the guidelines for recreational contact use.

In the Cornwallis River watershed, study of the tributaries showed all but the most downstream sites were very high and all expired the guidelines for agricultural use. Eleven also exceeded the Health Canada guidelines for contact recreational activities.”

In brief: not only is this water unsafe to drink or use in cooking, cleaning or agriculture, it’s often unsafe to even be in.

For a province that is struggling to rebuild a faltering ecotourism industry, it is staggering that this has not wrought immediate action – and this is the first testing of area water by the Department of Environment, despite years of concerns and calls for tests.

In 2013, APFA visited several homeowners in Nova Scotia, who said since mink farm volumes increased, they have stopped using the water they live on – and in fact moved to Nova Scotia to live on – for fear of their own health and safety.

It is time for the government of Nova Scotia to step up and act like a government: protect the people and environment of the eastern province before this and other industries do irreparable harm. Otherwise, it won’t matter how much money mink fur brings in: no one will want to live there.


We need you to write to your MLA, local Councillors, local media and neighbours and let them know the dire situation growing in Nova Scotia’s waterways. You can contact your MLA through this list and your local town website will have a contact sheet for your Mayor and Councillors.

Sample Letter

Dear (insert name),

I recently read the news reports of the Department of Environment’s study on waterways near mink farms. I am urging you to immediately suspend the activities of fur farms in Nova Scotia until further environmental assessments can be completed. If we allow our water to degenerate further, it will not matter how much money this industry tries to bring the province – we will be too sick, in debt and unable to use it.

As a taxpayer whom you represent, it is your duty to act first to protect us – not an industry that is dwindling in value.

The full report on this incident can be viewed here:

The Association for the Protection of Fur-Bearing Animals is one of a number of groups who has prepared information regarding the environmental consequences of fur farming and I suggest you also visit their website for facts without spin from the fur industry at


(Your name and address)

Please send us a copy of any correspondence you may receive at

Photo of Nova Scotia fur farm by John Horton

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