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

A partial image from the painting Kanaka Creek by Eric Hotz, which in the exhibit at the Pitt Meadows Art Gallery.
A Study of Nature exhibition opens at Pitt Meadows Art Gallery

Eric Hotz paintings feature familiar scenes from across the Lower Mainland

Shannon Belsito took this photo on Thursday morning, indicating the true arrival of spring. “Feeling the inspiring beauty and freshness of spring with these gorgeous magnolia blossoms near Kanaka Creek that just popped after the rain.” (Special to The News)
SHARE: Spring has arrived in all its splendor

Send us your photo showing how you view Maple Ridge or Pitt Meadows, and it could be featured soon.

A small memorial to Rich Goulet was started at Pitt Meadows Secondary after his recent death. (Neil Corbett/The News)
LETTER: Rename Pitt Meadows school gym in coach’s honour

Rich Goulet was considered one of the provinces best basketball coaches and died recently

Doug Nolin, a Maple Ridge senior, snapped this picture of his pet pigeons taking flight down by the old Albion ferry dock. “What a beautiful land we live in,” he said. (Special to The News)
SHARE: Chirp, chirp: Ridge senior captures pigeons taking flight

Send us your photo showing how you view Maple Ridge or Pitt Meadows, and it could be featured soon.

Pamela Franklin captured this picture of a raccoon in Maple Ridge, “chilling” in her backyard, on her storage bin. (Special to The News)
SHARE: Lounging in the spring sun

Send us your photo showing how you view Maple Ridge or Pitt Meadows, and it could be featured soon.

People take part in an anti-curfew protest in Montreal on Sunday April 11, 2021. Hundreds of people gathered in Old Montreal tonight in defiance of a new 8 p.m. curfew. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Giuseppe Valiante
VIDEO: Hundreds defy Montreal’s 8 p.m. curfew in violent, destructive protest

Quebec reported 1,535 new COVID-19 cases on Sunday, as well as five additional deaths linked to the virus

Dr. E. Kwok administers a COVID-19 vaccine to a recipient at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. to register people ages 40+ for COVID-19 vaccines in April

Appointments are currently being booked for people ages 66 and up

A volunteer disinfects a historical Mohabat Khan mosque ahead of the upcoming Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, in Peshawar, Pakistan, Friday, April 9, 2021. (AP Photo/Muhammad Sajjad)
For Canadian Muslims, second pandemic Ramadan is a time of hope and sadness

Many members of the association are trying to find ways ‘to help people stay connected to one another’

South Surrey farmland, March 2020. The province’s crackdown on secondary residences sparked protests that have the NDP government engaged in a lengthy rewrite of its legislation. (Tracy Holmes/Peace Arch News)
B.C. NDP now wants to keep even ‘non-farmers’ on the land

‘Grandfathering’ of second residences extended again

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

Photos of Vancouver Canucks players are pictured outside the closed box office of Rogers Arena in downtown Vancouver Thursday, April 8, 2021. The Vancouver Canucks say 25 players and coaches have tested positive during a COVID-19 outbreak that involves a variant of the virus. It is now the biggest reported outbreak in the NHL this season. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Canucks’ return to practice pushed back as player added to COVID protocol list

COVID outbreak has led to eight games being cancelled

People walk past the Olympic rings in Whistler, B.C., Friday, May 15, 2020. Whistler which is a travel destination for tourists around the world is seeing the effects of travel bans due to COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Adults living, working in Whistler, B.C., eligible for COVID-19 vaccine on Monday

The move comes as the province deals with a rush of COVID-19 and variant cases in the community

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
UPDATE: RCMP investigating after child, 6, dies at motel in Duncan, B.C.

The BC Coroners Service is conducting its own investigation into the circumstances around the child’s death

Most Read