The coronavirus has been detected in mink on a fur farm in British Columbia’s Fraser Valley. It’s the 3rd time a fur farm in Canada that has been affected by the virus.
The Government of British Columbia announced that a mink farm has been placed under quarantine after one mink has tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, two other mink are suspected positive for the virus. The government refuses to name the location of this farm, but indicates this farm has 25,000 animals, making it one of the largest industrial fur farms in the province.
March to June is normally breeding season, after which farmed mink populations will increase to 5 times their size. It is undetermined if mink kits were already born on this farm or if the thousands of breeding females have yet to give birth to their young.
British Columbia has seen COVID-19 outbreaks on two other farms in December 2020 and remains the only province in Canada with documented cases of COVID-19 on mink farms. Citing animal welfare concerns and an overwhelming body of evidence that has warned about the public health risks of fur farming during the COVID-19 pandemic, The Fur-Bearers called on the BC Government to close fur farms in the province and support farmers and workers to transition out of this industry. Despite the public health risks and calls from infectious disease experts and scientists to close BC’s fur farms, the BC Government announced in March 2021 that it will allow fur farms to resume breeding for 2021.
While no workers have tested positive for COVID-19 on this farm and the government is working to identify the source of infection, documents obtained by The Fur Bearers have revealed that significant movement of personnel and machinery between mink farms is commonplace in BC’s fur farm industry.
Despite reassurances from the government that biosecurity measures are in place to prevent COVID-19 outbreaks, the repeated biosecurity failures that have resulted in the transmission of this disease on fur farms not only puts animals in danger, but also the public. We are reiterating our calls to the Government of British Columbia to close all fur farms in the province.
Residents of British Columbia are encouraged to contact their MLA and Minister of Agriculture Lana Popham (AGR.Minister@gov.bc.ca or by phone at 250-387-1023) and politely voice their opposition to BC’s fur farming industry. You can find your BC MLA by clicking here.
– British Columbia currently has 11 fur farms in operation. 10 mink farms, 1 chinchilla farm. All mink farms are located in the Fraser Valley.
– Most recent Statistics Canada data (2018) shows 281,600 mink were bred in BC that year.
– A 2020 poll conducted by BC public opinion firm Research Co., found that 85% of the population of BC are opposed to killing animals for their fur.
– 7738 Canadians signed Government of Canada E-petition e-3096 that calls for nationwide ban on fur farming for all species of animals.
– The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the World Organisation For Animal Health (OIE), and the Word Health Organization (WHO) published a risk assessment for fur farms: SARS-CoV-2 in animals used for fur farming: GLEWS+ risk assessment. The risk assessment identified Canada has having a “very likely” likelihood of introduction and spread of SARS-CoV-2 within fur farms, and a “likely” likelihood of transmission of the SARS-CoV-2 virus from fur farms to susceptible wildlife populations.