Public health orders for people to wear masks or that restrict people’s ability to meet and potentially spread the COVID-19 virus are in place across the world. Leaders in public health issue these orders based on the best scientific evidence available on how to control the spread of the virus.
However, there is another health crisis taking place within the COVID-19 crisis: animal farming. COVID-19 itself is a zoonotic disease, one that was transmitted to humans from animals, so it should be no surprise that we continue to see new cases of zoonotic diseases spring up around the world amidst the current pandemic.
We have talked previously of animal agriculture in general as a source of zoonotic disease transmission. Now, a more specific area of concern is the fur industry, specifically within mink farms in B.C. and the transmission of COVID-19. After eight workers were originally found to have contracted the virus at a BC mink farm, now over 200 mink on the same farm have died from it. This is with all the biosecurity protocols being followed.
In Denmark, nearly 17 million mink were recently killed due to outbreaks of COVID-19 on over 200 mink farms across the country. In the Netherlands, 1 million mink have been killed to control the virus and a ban on mink farming has had its timeline moved up to March of 2021. Several other countries have also had mink farm outbreaks including Spain, Sweden, Italy, and the US.
Furthermore, there are concerns that with mink being particularly susceptible to respiratory viruses such as COVID-19, that the virus could mutate within them and new strains could be transferred back to humans again. This has already happened in a few cases.
According to Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, in 2018 there were 98 mink farms in Canada. However, the Fur Council of Canada recently stated there are now only about 60 fur farms left. These farms kill about 1.6 million mink a year and they sell their pelts for an average of $28 a piece.
Fur farms fall under provincial jurisdiction and the minister of Agriculture. However, because COVID-19 is a national health concern, there is an impetus for the ministry of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada to step-up and issue a moratorium on mink farming across the country. You can email the BC minister of Agriculture, Lana Popham, here. You can contact the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Marie-Claude Bibeau, here.
The Fur-Bearer Defenders who have long advocated against the fur industry also have a letter you can send here.
The larger question at hand is why the B.C. and Canadian governments aren’t taking more decisive and pro-active measures to ensure that the spread of COVID-19 that has happened on mink farms around the world does not get worse in Canada. Fur farming is already in decline, are sites of extreme animal suffering, environmental degradation, and contribute very little economically.
The Animal Protection Party of Canada is opposed to the farming, trapping, and killing of animals for their fur. Fur farming causes prolonged suffering to animals raised in inhumane conditions where they are prevented from practicing natural behaviours. Trapping of animals for their fur kills a significant number of non-target species, lacks public oversight, and is a cruel death for any animal.
Compassionate politics demands that we see the current COVID-19 health crisis as an opportunity to reshape our social and political world based on the needs of animals, people, and the environment. Fur farming for fashion or otherwise has no place in our society and must be phased out.
Animal Protection Party of Canada