Danger tape blocks off driveways at a mink farm in Chilliwack on Dec. 7, 2020 after an outbreak was declared. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress file)

Danger tape blocks off driveways at a mink farm in Chilliwack on Dec. 7, 2020 after an outbreak was declared. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress file)

BC SPCA calls for moratorium after minks, workers at farm contract COVID

More than 200 mink have died already at farm affected by COVID-19 in Chilliwack

The BC SPCA is calling for a moratorium on mink farming in this province through an immediate suspension of all mink farm licenses.

The call comes after eight workers on a Chilliwack fur farm tested positive for COVID-19. More than 200 mink have died on the farm, and samples from mink on the property have tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19 in humans.

READ MORE: COVID-19 outbreak declared at Chilliwack mink ranch

The BC SPCA, the province’s largest animal welfare organization, has written to B.C.’s Chief Veterinary Officer, the Provincial Health Officer and Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries, expressing concerns for public and animal health and the need to immediately suspend all fur farm licenses. Geoff Urton of the BC SPCA said the moratorium is needed to reduce the risk of further disease spread in B.C. communities, including the risk to wild animals.

“Mink themselves also stand to suffer from SARS-CoV-2 as, unlike other animals who have contracted the virus and show little-to-no symptoms, mink can become sick and die when infected,” he said. “At this time, the practice of mink farming is at odds with the Animal Health Act due to the close contact between farmed mink and farm staff.”

Urton added that mink are permitted to be farmed in B.C. through exemptions to the provincial Wildlife Act’s prohibition on keeping of native wildlife.

“The mink who are farmed in B.C. are native species who would be far-ranging in movement in their natural settings, and are solitary, and semi-aquatic animals,” he said. “In B.C., mink are confined to small barren wire cages, tightly packed together in high densities on farms.”

The BC SPCA stated that around the world there have been increasing cases and concerns about the virus passing from humans to minks, and back to humans. The cramped conditions of thousands of mink on farms creates dangerous conditions for the spread of SARS-CoV2.

“In addition to the threat to public health, the BC SPCA is deeply concerned about the suffering of thousands of mink raised on farms in B.C.,” said Urton. Currently there are 13 mink farms in B.C., almost all of which are in the Fraser Valley, producing fur for international luxury markets. In 2018, more than 260,000 mink were killed for fur in B.C., a practice the BC SPCA said 85 per cent of British Columbians oppose.

Urton added that the BC SPCA is opposed to killing animals for clothing, as wild-caught animals experience unacceptable harms, and wild animals suffer when raised on fur farms.

Pamela Anderson has also spoken up about mink farms following the COVID-19 cases, on behalf of PETA. Anderson called on Premier John Horgan to close down all fur farms in the province.

“The world is a much different place than it was even a few months ago. No one, including minks, deserves to die of COVID-19, and I hope to hear that you will make the lifesaving decision to shut down British Columbia’s mink farms without delay,” Anderson wrote.

The BC SPCA have started an online pledge to end fur farming, available at spca.bc.ca/mink-farming-pledge.

READ MORE: Pamela Anderson calls on Horgan to ban fur farming after COVID-19 outbreak at mink farm


@CHWKcommunity
jpeters@theprogress.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

animal welfare

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. is investigating the shooting of an Indigenous woman in the Ucluelet First Nation community of Hitacu. (Black Press Media file photo)
NTC president calls for ‘massive change’ after Indigenous woman shot by police in Hitacu

“We need to get to the root of what is actually happening with the RCMP and our communities”

Hotel Zed Tofino has won a Vancouver Island Real Estate Board Commercial Building Award. (Westerly file photo)
Hotel Zed Tofino wins commercial building award

Vancouver Island Real Estate Board holds virtual gala.

The District of Ucluelet is fast-tracking temporary use permits for RVs/campervans as seasonal housing. (Westerly file photo)
Ucluelet reviews 11 applications for RVs as seasonal housing

“Housing is so essential to everyone, and an issue that cases a lot of stress to business owners.”

A bullet hole is seen in the windshield of an RCMP vehicle approximately 4 km from Vancouver International Airport after a one person was killed during a shooting outside the international departures terminal at the airport, in Richmond, B.C., Sunday, May 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Homicide team IDs man in fatal YVR shooting as police grapple with spate of gang violence

Man, 20, charged in separate fatal shooting Burnaby over the weekend

RCMP are searching for Philip Toner, who is a ‘person of interest’ in the investigation of a suspicious death in Kootenay National Park last week. Photo courtesy BC RCMP.
RCMP identify ‘person of interest’ in Kootenay National Park suspicious death

Police are looking for Philip Toner, who was known to a woman found dead near Radium last week

Vancouver Canucks goaltender Thatcher Demko (35) makes a save on Winnipeg Jets’ Nate Thompson (11) during second period NHL action in Winnipeg, Monday, May 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Greenslade
Vancouver Canucks see NHL playoff hopes dashed despite 3-1 win over Winnipeg

Montreal Canadiens earn final North Division post-season spot

The B.C. legislature went from 85 seats to 87 before the 2017 election, causing a reorganization with curved rows and new desks squeezed in at the back. The next electoral boundary review could see another six seats added. (Black Press files)
B.C. election law could add six seats, remove rural protection

North, Kootenays could lose seats as cities gain more

Nurse Gurinder Rai, left, administers the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to Maria Yule at a Fraser Health drive-thru vaccination site, in Coquitlam, B.C., on Wednesday, May 5, 2021. The site is open for vaccinations 11 hours per day to those who have pre-booked an appointment. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
COVID vaccine bookings to open for adults 40+, or 18+ in hotspots, across B.C.

Only people who have registered will get their alert to book

Dr. Victoria Lee, CEO of Fraser Health, hosts an update on efforts to contain B.C.’s COVID-19 transmission in Surrey and the Fraser Valley and protect hospitals in the Lower Mainland, May 6, 2021. (B.C. government video)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate slowing, 20 more people die

Deaths include two people in their 40s, two in their 50s

Oak Bay resident Hugh Thompson died Friday, May 7. (GoFundMe photo)
Oak Bay dad dies mountain biking near Shawnigan Lake

Community rallies around family with online fundraiser

Most Read