New report emphasizes dangers of mink farming

Mink can catch, transmit and die from COVID-19

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Mink farms spread COVID-19.

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North American scientists, vets, epidemiologists and animal advocacy groups continue to call for an end to mink farming, something that is already being acted upon — and quickly — across Europe.

Mink are the only animals besides people that transmit, become sick, and die in large numbers from COVID-19, contributing to viral mutation in the process.

The Center For a Humane Economy and Animal Wellness Action have released a 96 page report by Dr. James Keen, outlining the health threats posed by mink farms.

At a recent press conference, Dr. Keen, currently a visiting fellow in Harvard Law School’s Animal Law and Policy Program, spoke about the short and long-term concerns associated with mink farms.

That 40% of all COVID infections in humans in the Netherlands in 2020 came from farmed mink, traceable by a specific mutation, is a short-term problem.

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Long term, farmed mink have the potential to unleash COVID into the wild mink population — at which point, disease transmission will be unstoppable.

“In wildlife, it will be ineradicable,”said Keen, mentioning brucellosis, rabies and tuberculosis as examples of exactly what that means.

There are wild mink throughout North America.

The horrific conditions farmed mink live in contribute to their susceptibility to COVID.

These are solitary animals accustomed to roaming freely over vast areas, and they are semi-aquatic; on farms they live crammed together in wire cages, stressed and aggressive.

Said Keen, “We complained about China due to the live wildlife markets. We should look in the mirror. Mink farming is wildlife farming. Many believe mink are the intermediary between bats and people.”

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This year, new mink farm outbreaks occurred in Spain, Latvia, and British Columbia. 

At least 431 outbreaks of COVID have occurred on mink farms in Europe and North America, including 18 U.S. outbreaks in Michigan, Utah, Wisconsin, and Oregon.

And yet, there is almost no domestic market for mink pelts in North America or Europe.

Nearly all the pelts go to China.

In Canada, the same concerns have been raised about mink farms. A petition to ban fur farming in Ontario has nearly 25,000 signatures.

Weeks ago, after the third COVID outbreak on a BC mink farm, the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs (UBCIC), infectious disease specialists, the BC SPCA, the Fur-Bearers, and Humane Society International (HSI)/Canada called on the BC Government to end fur farming. 

Canada Mink Breeders estimate there are 60 farms in Canada. For both humans’ and animals’ sake, they need to close.

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