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

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

COVID-19 outbreak declared at Chilliwack mink ranch

News spurs renewed call from animal rights groups to end the fur trade

The Chilliwack Progress has learned that the COVID-19 outbreak identified by Fraser Health at a mink ranch in the Fraser Valley is in Chilliwack.

Eight people at the farm have tested positive, according to a Dec. 6 news release from Fraser Health. The health authority is now screening employees and conducting case management and contact tracing.

Animal rights activists responded by calling for an end to the fur trade altogether.

A spokesperson for Toronto-based World Animal Protection called the outbreak a wake-up call for Canada to end the farming and trade of wild animals for luxury products.

“Although the mink are still being tested for the virus here, COVID-19 has spread like wildfire on mink farms in Europe and several states in the U.S.,” Melissa Matlow said via email. “A number of countries have banned fur farming and COVID-19 has led the Netherlands to accelerate their phase-out of the industry. World Animal Protection is strongly encouraging Canada to follow their lead.”

Virginia-based People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) similarly used the outbreak as a renewed call to end the fur trade.

“Minks were among the animals infected during the SARS outbreak in 2003, and they are known to carry a variety of pathogens and diseases that can be passed on to humans, including hepatitis E and influenza,” said Paula Moore on behalf of The PETA Foundation.

“In addition to being a public health issue, this is also a moral one. Many animals on fur farms slowly go insane and even self-mutilate from the stress of intensive confinement before they are violently killed.”

READ MORE: COVID-19 outbreak declared at Fraser Valley mink farm

Denmark recently culled 17 million minks in response to COVID-19 outbreaks at more than 200 farms in the country. A concern raised by health scientists is that the ferret-like animals can contract COVID-19 and the virus can mutate, and pass it back to humans.

Fraser Health said that as with all individuals who test positive or are close contacts with those who test positive for COVID-19, the farm operators and staff are self-isolating.

“The site has been inspected by Fraser Health and WorkSafeBC and we continue to work with the site on their COVID-19 mitigation strategies.”

The farm has been ordered to restrict all transport of animals, products and goods from the location, under the BC Animal Health Act. The minks’ welfare is being supported by the Ministry of Agriculture, and enhanced measures are being put in place to keeps the farm owner and creatures safe.

On Monday, both driveways to the Chilliwack farm were taped off. The Progress is not identifying the location.

COVID-19 can be naturally acquired by a small number of animals, including domestic cats, lions and tigers, dogs and minks, according to the BC Centre for Disease Control, and clinical illness can result in cats and farmed mink.

All employers in B.C., including mink farms, are required to implement COVID-19 safety plans, Fraser Health said. This includes requirements to assess any risks to workers, and plans to prevent the transmission of COVID-19 in the workplace.

The outbreak is being addressed through a partnership of BC Ministry of Agriculture, BC Ministry of Health, WorkSafeBC and BC Centre for Disease Control to support the health of farm operators and staff.

WorkSafeBC’s Consultation & Education Services team is now reaching out directly to other mink farms across the province to discuss requirements.

The Progress did try to connect with the mink ranch via email for a comment but did not get a response.

– with files from Patrick Penner


Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email:
editor@theprogress.com

@TheProgress
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

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

Mission

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

Just Posted

CP’s proposed logistics park would be in the fields just across the tracks from its intermodal yard in Pitt Meadows. (Google)
Pitt Meadows wants higher tax rate for CP Rail

Councillors decry a rate that equates railway to a dentist’s office

Almost every health region in the province saw an increase in overdose calls last year. (Blackpress files)
Overdose call numbers reach five-year-high in Maple Ridge.

BC Emergency Health Services responded to almost 500 local calls in 2020

Cam Blake released his first album called <em>Bad Vacation</em> on Jan. 15. (Special to The News)
Maple Ridge musician releases first album

Cam Blake’s first album, Bad Vacation, released Jan. 15

Members of the Maple Ridge Disc Golf Club team up to update the “frolf” course at Thornhill Park. (Special to The News)
Maple Ridge Disc Golf Club helps upgrade local course

Thornhill Park frisbee links usage has skyrocketed since pandemic

Cody Malawsky at the box lacrosse provincials in 2019. As the highly skilled player adds size he will dominate junior, predicts longtime coach Daren Fridge. (Tim McCormick/Special to The News)
Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, vice-president of logistics and operations at the Public Health Agency of Canada, speaks at a news conference on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa, on Friday, Jan. 15, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
B.C. records 500 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday, 14 deaths

Outbreak at Surrey Pretrial jail, two more in health care

Vancouver Canucks’ Travis Hamonic grabs Montreal Canadiens’ Josh Anderson by the face during first period NHL action in Vancouver, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Horvat scores winner as Canucks dump Habs 6-5 in shootout thriller

Vancouver and Montreal clash again Thursday night

A woman writes a message on a memorial mural wall by street artist James “Smokey Devil” Hardy during a memorial to remember victims of illicit drug overdose deaths on International Overdose Awareness Day, in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, on Monday, August 31, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. paramedics respond to record-breaking number of overdose calls in 2020

On the front lines, COVID-19 has not only led to more calls, but increased the complexity

Eighteen-year-old Aidan Webber died in a marine accident in 2019. He was a Canadian Junior BMX champion from Nanaimo. (Submitted)
Inadequate safety training a factor in teen BMX star’s workplace death in 2019

Aidan Webber was crushed by a barge at a fish farm near Port Hardy

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

Southern resident killer whales in B.C. waters. Research shows the population’s females are more negatively influenced by vessel traffic than males. (Photo supplied by Ocean Wise Conservation Association)
Female orcas less likely to feed in presence of vessel traffic: study

Research the southern resident population raises concerns over reproduction capacity

(Black Press Media files)
Transport Canada not budging on enclosed deck rules, despite calls from BC Ferries union

There have been at least 23 cases of the U.K. variant detected in Canada, four of which are in B.C.

The Elk Valley Hospital is adapting to meet the needs of patients in the Elk Valley.
1-in-5 COVID tests coming back positive in and around Fernie, sparking concern

Dr Ron Clark of Elk Valley Hospital said one in five tests was returning positive for COVID-19

Throughout December, RCMP conducted CounterAttack road checks as police worked to keep roads free of impaired drivers. (BLACK PRESS file photo)
‘You can’t make this stuff up’: Stories from the B.C. CounterAttack campaign

Amusing, yes, but a reminder impaired driving affects ability to drive and to make good decisions

Most Read