Fines that cap out at $50, two-page check lists, and entire farms falling “through the cracks” were revealed in a stack of documents obtained by The Fur-Bearers in British Columbia.
A Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Request filed by The Fur-Bearers directed at the BC Ministry of Agriculture farm inspect reports and communications unearthed the many curiosities of fur farm oversight in the province.
In one case discussed between a handful of Ministry of Agriculture higher ups, a mink farm operating without a license for 11 years was only discovered after thousands of the mink were released or escaped the property (October 2013).
Another email chain shows that the maximum fine for failure to comply with regulations is a $50 fee. The inspection reports used by ministry staff have only sixteen points – and failure does not necessitate a fine or removal of permit. One such inspection, which listed issues with pens, nest boxes, drainage, and manure, gave nearly a full year of time for corrections before the next visit from officials.
Ministry officials regularly note that they are restricted by legislation in dealing with neighbouring property owners’ concerns, that financial restrictions make inspections difficult, and, in other briefing notes, point out how highly profitable and important the fur farm industry is to British Columbia.
Concerns about wildlife attractants in the form of feed, waste, and carcasses are barely acknowledged, let alone responded to.
This FOIA request has shown one thing: the oversight of fur farming in British Columbia is under funded, under staffed, and completely unable to protect any animals or the environment.