Hundreds of thousands of animals are farmed for their fur every year in Canada. The vast majority of these animals are mink, followed by foxes. Other fur-bearing animals are also farmed for their fur. In British Columbia for example, provincial regulation permits the farming of chinchillas, fishers, martens, and nutrias in addition to mink and foxes.
Mink are semi-aquatic animals that have a natural territory of up to 2,500 acres, while the home ranges of foxes can span dozens of square kilometres. On fur farms however, both species spend their entire lives trapped in small wire cages stacked together in long sheds where they eat, sleep, urinate and defecate. Their movement is so severely restricted that they are unable to run, hunt, hide, or socialize. Fur farmed animals are prevented from engaging in virtually all the natural behaviours that they would exhibit freely in the wild. Severe physical and psychological conditions are well-documented among animals living in fur farms.
In addition to the cruel conditions that fur-farmed animals endure, the negative implications of fur farming extend beyond the animals that are subjected to extreme confinement in fur farms. Although industrial fur farms tend to operate hidden from the public eye, their impact is felt by communities located in close proximity to these operations.
The adverse impacts to the environment are even further reaching, where manure runoff from areas with high concentration of fur farms can affect surface and groundwater in nearby watersheds. The COVID-19 pandemic has also highlighted the risks that fur farming poses to public health and the environment. The world has seen human-animal-human transmission of the SARS-CoV-2 virus in mink. Epidemiologists have identified mink-related variants of the virus and have warned about virus spillover into wild animal populations where the virus can potentially become permanently established.
For these and other reasons, it is unsurprising that public opposition to fur farming is extremely high, both in Canada and across the world.
For more information about fur farming in Canada, visit the following pages: