Coronavirus confirmed on Utah mink farms

Mink on a BC fur farm

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced the first confirmed cases of SaRS-CoV-2 (which causes COVID-19 in people) on two mink farms in Utah.

In a news release issued August 17, the USDA said, “These are the first confirmed cases of SARS-CoV-2 in mink in the United States. The affected farms also reported positive cases of COVID-19 in people who had contact with the mink.”

The USDA issued a 7-page information package regarding the coronavirus and mink, including updated practices on how to best manage mink during the pandemic and what to do should there be concerns the virus is present on farms. The package does not state if culls will be necessary or mandated when outbreaks are confirmed.

More than one million mink in Europe were culled in recent weeks after the coronavirus ripped through farms in the Netherlands (33 farms confirmed positive), Denmark and Spain.

Canada has some 98 mink farms holding approximately 346,000 mink (as of 2018, the last year StatsCan has available). British Columbia’s 13 mink farms went without animal welfare inspections from at least December 2019 through March 2020, prior to the pandemic beginning.

In the latest communication from Minister of Agriculture Lana Popham’s office to The Fur-Bearers, it was stated that Ministry staff will perform inspections at the province’s fur farms this fall, after kits are weaned, while following biosecurity and enhanced COVID-19 measures. The letter also indicated that information is being shared with the owners of fur farms but does not outline what information that is. There was also no mention of existing or planned testing of mink and workers for the presence of SaRS-CoV-2, despite the outbreaks in Europe.

The Fur-Bearers sent letters to the Ministries responsible for farmed mink in all provinces requesting they consider enhanced monitoring and reporting for the coronavirus as well as consideration to close down farms due to ongoing animal welfare concerns.

We will continue to monitor the international and Canadian situations and update our members with the latest information. With your support we will #MakeFurHistory.

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Established in 1953, The Fur-Bearers is a charitable, non-partisan organization whose goals are to end the commercial fur trade and promote solutions for wildlife coexistence in communities. Your donation is tax-deductible. Charitable registration number: 130006125RR0002

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