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

Dr. Bonnie Henry, provincial health officer, updates British Columbians about COVID-19 at a press conference earlier this week. (B.C. Government image)
B.C.’s 1st case of COVID-19 confirmed a year ago today

Here’s a look at some of the key dates in the province’s fight against the novel coronavirus

Maple Ridge Mayor Mike Morden. (The News files)
Maple Ridge grants extension for rezoning applications

Applicants now have until Jan. 1, 2022

Ridge Meadows Search and Rescue swift water team drives up the Lower Falls trail at Golden Ears Park to help a women who lost her way. (Ridge Meadows Search and Rescue/ Facebook)
Ridge Meadows Search and Rescue aid woman stranded by waterfall

Hiker found herself unsure of the way back while walking in Maple Ridge’s Golden Ears Park

Coun. Chelsa Meadus
Maple Ridge councillor calls out province on homelessness

MLA says he has been willing to meet with the city, more addiction treatment coming

British Columbia Health Minister Adrian Dix looks on as Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry addresses the media during a news conference at the BC Centre of Disease Control in Vancouver B.C. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)
B.C. announces 485 new COVID-19 cases, fewest deaths in months

‘The actions we take may seem small, but will have a big impact to stop the virus,” urges Dr. Henry

Grad student Marisa Harrington and her supervisor Lynneth Stuart-Hill say preliminary results from a study into the affects of stress on hospital nurses show an impact on sleep and heart variability. (Courtesy of Marisa Harrington)
University of Victoria study shows stress impact on B.C. nurses

Stress may be impacting sleep, heart health of hospital nurses in Victoria region

Sooke’s Amy McLaughlin holds Theodore, a bunny who will be going to a new owner in Nanaimo within the coming days if all goes will at an upcoming bunny play-date. (Aaron Guillen/News Staff)
Vancouver Island woman looking to hop into bigger space for bunny rescue operation

Amy McLaughlin has rescued more than 400 bunnies, pushing for the capacity to help more

Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News
Search called off for small plane that went down in rough water south of Victoria

Plane bound for Port Angeles from Alaska believed to have one occupant, an Alaskan pilot

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

BC Place Stadium in a photo posted to cisc-icca.ca.
Roof of BC Place a stage for performers during online music festival

‘This will be the first time any artists have performed from the 204-foot iconic Vancouver rooftop’

Royal B.C. Museum conservator Megan Doxsey-Whitfield kneels next to a carved stone pillar believed to have significance as a First Nations cultural marker by local Indigenous people. The pillar was discovered on the beach at Dallas Road last summer. Museum curatorial staff have been working with Songhees and Esquimalt Nation representatives to gain a clearer picture of its use. (Photo courtesy Royal BC Museum)
Stone carving found on Victoria beach confirmed Indigenous ritual pillar

Discussion underway with the Esquimalt and Songhees about suitable final home for the artifact

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
Driver crashes vehicle twice in one day near Princeton

Abbotsford woman, 29, wasn’t injured in either incident

Former Vancouver Giants forward Evander Kane is seen here in Game 7 of the second round of the 2009 WHL playoffs against the Spokane Chiefs (Sam Chan under Wikipedia Commons licence)
Gambling debts revealed in details of bankruptcy filing by hockey star Evander Kane

Sharks left winger and former Vancouver Giants player owes close to $30 million total

Most Read