It’s time to put fur farming to a stop

Fur farming in Canada raises public health, environmental and animal welfare concerns

Baltic Devon Mink fur farm in Latvia. (Wiki.commons)

Fur farming is an industry that involves farming animals for the use of their fur in luxury products, and its practice should be banned in B.C.

Mink can spread and contract COVID-19 to and from other mink and people, which increases the health risk for our populations already struggling to cope with the pandemic. From an animal welfare perspective, conditions in the mink farms are concerning since the animals are often subjected to suffering and inhumane conditions.

In B.C., many mink populations are kept in cages on farms to eventually be slaughtered and processed for their fur, which is used in luxury cosmetic and outerwear products for the international market.

Mink are wild, carnivorous foragers that can swim and roam over large areas of land.

An open letter signed by David Suzuki and other experts and professors Ken Langelier, Sarah Otto, Daniel Coombs, and Ian Duncan, explains that keeping mink in cages goes against their free-roaming and foraging nature, and can cause these animals to undergo frustration and undue stress.

Unfortunately, due to the confined spaces they live in at the farms, mink can spread COVID-19 to other mink very easily, and potentially pass the virus to the workers at these farms. Outbreaks of COVID-19 were declared in multiple B.C. mink farms in December, prompting authorities to quarantine the farms. Hundreds of mink died, and eight workers tested positive for COVID-19.

Scientists that wrote the open letter argue that mink farms can become a hotbed for spreading the virus, and increase the risks of people contracting COVID-19 and mutations developing.

Native wildlife in B.C. is a cornerstone of our environment, and scientists worry that minks that escape could cause potentially damaging effects to the wildlife and local ecosystems.

This is a real problem for humans and native wildlife, and there were recent reports of an infected mink escaping a farm in Oregon with the potential to cause fatal outbreaks. If more infected mink escape those farms, the risk of nearby humans and animals contracting COVID-19 could increase significantly.

The strategy for wildlife preservation in B.C. involves ensuring that native wildlife and environments are safeguarded from changes that could be damaging to them and their way of life. It is morally reprehensible to continue keeping an industry that directly threatens that through its business practices.

We need to change the viewpoints around the environment, luxury items, animal welfare rights, and animal farming to stop the practice of fur farming in B.C. for good. According to a North American poll taken by Research Co., 81 per cent of Canadians oppose killing animals for their fur.

Mink farming is dangerous to humans, native wildlife, and mink and far outweigh any benefits that the farming industry may have. Fur farming should be banned in B.C., and hopefully we can work towards that goal.