After COVID-19 outbreaks on three mink fur farms in British Columbia, BC’s Provincial Health Officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry, issued an order that placed a moratorium on mink farming in the province. In this post, we explain the key information in this order, and what you can do to help the movement to end fur farming in British Columbia.
Order of the Provincial Health Officer - MINK FARMS
On July 26, 2021, a government news release announced that more mink at a Fraser Valley mink farm tested positive for the SARS-CoV-2 virus, including mink that escaped their cages and were found through a wildlife surveillance project. The news release included the order from BC’s Provincial Health Officer which issued a moratorium on mink farming and breeding. Click here to read the full order.
What does BC's Provincial Health Officer say about the risks of mink farming?
Included in the order is the rationale that forms the basis for the moratorium. The order states:
“I have reason to believe and do believe that:
- “mink farming is a health hazard as it is an activity which endangers or is likely to endanger public health”
- “there is a risk mink infected with SARS-CoV-2 could result in infection of workers at mink farms, which could lead to further transmission in human populations”
- “there is a risk the mink could escape into the wild and pose a risk of transmission of SARS- CoV-2 to wild animals, also posing a risk of potential transmission from wild animals to human populations”
- “the susceptibility of mink to infection with SARS-CoV-2 creates a risk of development of variants of concern which pose a threat to public health and could undermine the efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccination program in British Columbia; and”
- “any increase in the number of mink farms or the number of farmed mink in British Columbia would increase the threat to public health arising from mink farming.”
What activities were banned because of the order?
- New mink farms – Anyone that wants to open a new mink farm in BC is prohibited from doing so.
- Mink breeding – Mink farm operators are prohibited from breeding any new mink into existence.
- Acquiring more mink – Mink farm operators are prohibited from acquiring any live mink by any means.
Are there any problems with this order?
Placing a moratorium on mink farming and mink breeding is an important first step in reducing the risks that mink farms pose to the public, to mink, to workers, and to wild animal populations. However, the dangers inherent in mink farming still exist. BC’s mink farms are large industrial operations and are still allowed to operate.
The primary problem with this order is that it expires January 31, 2022. If no further action is taken prior to this date, all of BC’s mink farms will be allowed to breed mink again for next year’s breeding season. Anyone that wants to open a new mink farm in BC will be allowed to do so as well.
What needs to be done?
It’s time for the BC government to act and place a permanent ban on breeding and end fur farming in the province before this order expires. On October 7, 2021, a group of 29 infectious disease doctors sent an open letter to Premier John Horgan calling on the province to permanently ban fur farming. The province needs to act now.