FILE – A mink sniffs the air as he surveys the river beach in search of food, in meadow near the village of Khatenchitsy, 65 kilometers (40 miles) northwest of Minsk, Belarus on September 4, 2015. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Sergei Grits MANDATORY CREDIT

FILE – A mink sniffs the air as he surveys the river beach in search of food, in meadow near the village of Khatenchitsy, 65 kilometers (40 miles) northwest of Minsk, Belarus on September 4, 2015. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Sergei Grits MANDATORY CREDIT

David Suzuki, experts pen letter bashing B.C. mink farms’ role in COVID spread

Two mink farms in B.C. have had COVID-19 outbreaks

Several prominent environmentalists and experts are speaking out against mink farms in the province in a letter to two B.C. ministers.

The letter, released earlier this month by the Fur-Bearers, touches on three points: the risk of COVID-19 spread and mutation due to mink farms, the welfare of the minks and the risk they pose to wildlife populations.

“The dangers of keeping wild animals in captivity in crowded conditions in close proximity to people and domesticated animals should be all too clear given the virus’s origins,” the letter states, noting that mink farms can serve as a reservoir for the virus.

Thousands of mink have been killed both in B.C. and in other countries around the world after outbreaks at two fur farms in the Fraser Valley. According to a report from Dr Jaspinder Komal, the chief veterinary officer and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency to the World Organisation for Animal Health, more than 10,000 mink were slaughtered as a result of the two outbreaks.

READ MORE: BC SPCA slams proposed changes to mink farm standards after 2 COVID outbreaks

The letter, signed by people such as David Suzuki, Order of B.C. recipient and veterinarian Dr. Ken Langelier of Island Animal Hospital and University of B.C. mathematics professor Daniel Coombs, said that B.C. needs to look at why it allows mink farming when other wild animals are not allowed to be kept in captivity in the same way.

The letter also points to a recent infected mink escaping a quarantined fur farm in Oregon.

“If the potential for native wildlife to contract SARS COV-2 from infected mink on farms as seen in the U.S. already does not qualify as a disease threat to these populations, we cannot imagine what would.”

Aside from the risk of COVID-19 spread, the letter cites the animal welfare of mink as a rising concern. It notes that mink are “highly intelligent animals who typically roam, swim, and forage over a large territory.”

The letter notes that despite countries such as Canada decrying wet markets, where live animals are sometimes kept in close quarters, active mink farms in B.C. represent similar conditions.


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

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

AnimalsCoronavirus

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

Just Posted

Wyatt McCullough didn’t make it look easy, but he managed to succeed in the steer wrestling event at the High School Rodeo, held during in 2020 at Alex Fraser Park. This was the first rodeo event held in Quesnel in 2020 after everything else was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Cassidy Dankochik Photo - Quesnel Cariboo Observer)
Saddle up: Quesnel Rodeo Club planning three 2021 events

Club president Ray Jasper said the rodeos could include rough stock events

(Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
Murder charge laid in February 2020 stabbing death of Smithers man

Michael Egenolf is charged with the second-degree murder of Brodie Cumiskey

Island Health chief medical officer Dr. Richard Stanwick receives a first dose of Pfizer vaccine, Dec. 22, 2020. (B.C. government)
COVID-19: B.C. seniors aged 90+ can start to sign up for vaccination on March 8

Long-term care residents protected by shots already given

Joeseph Hayworth shared the code his brother and him discovered years ago on his Youtube channel. (Youtube)
Quesnel gamer shares lost secrets of retro game

Joeseph Hayworth and his brother discovered the secret years ago

?Esdilagh First Nation health department staff were thrilled to rollout out the community’s first COVID-19 vaccines Friday, Feb. 26. L-R: registered nurse Sam Riczu, elder worker Marie Conway, wellness coordinator Linda Siwalace, community health representative Sharon Palmantier and youth coordinator Dakotah Casey. (photo submitted)
?Esdilagh First Nation receives first COVID-19 vaccine

Vaccination clinic held Feb. 26 for high-risk elders

Langley resident Carrie MacKay shared a video showing how stairs are a challenge after spending weeks in hospital battling COVID-19 (Special to Langley Advance Times)
VIDEO: Stairs a challenge for B.C. woman who chronicled COVID-19 battle

‘I can now walk for six (to) 10 minutes a day’

Nanaimo RCMP are looking for a suspect who smashed the window of an adult toy store and made off with more than $1,200 in merchandise. (File photo)
Vancouver Island sex shop out $1,200 in merchandise after suspect steals ‘colossal’ product

Suspect smashed window of Nanaimo store, cutting himself in the process

Riverside Calvary Church in Walnut Grove. (Langley Advance Times file)
B.C. is ‘stereotyping’ churches as riskier for COVID than other spaces, lawyer argues

Judge said that freedom of expression, religion are not at issue in the case

B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell gets acquainted with Tsawwassen First Nation Chief Kim Baird’s 10-month-old daughter Sophia, husband Steve and four-year-old Amy at the B.C. legislature before a ceremony to endorse the Tsawwassen Treaty, Oct. 15, 2007. (Sharon Tiffin/Black Press)
Indigenous consent comes first and last for B.C. industrial projects

Environment minister can still approve permits without consent

B.C.’s court of appeal in Vancouver. (File photo: Tom Zytaruk)
Kootenay man appeals 7-year conviction for New Year’s Eve kidnapping, beating

Brandon Coons, 27, was convicted on five charges, including assault with a weapon

An investigation is underway after two VPD officers were recorded posing for pictures near a dead body at Third Beach on Feb. 24. (Screen grab/Zachary Ratcliff)
Vancouver officers placed on desk duty after filmed posing next to dead body

Pair put in ‘non-deployable, admin positions’ as the investigation into their conduct continues

(Black Press file photo)
Homicide team to look into death of 11-year-old Agassiz boy

Agassiz RCMP were called out Friday to assist with a child in medical distress

A publicly accessible defibrillator as well as naloxone and first aid kits are included in a stand that has been installed at Crescent Beach. It is one of two planned for the South Surrey neighbourhood as St. John Ambulance works to install 1,000 of the life-saving devices around the province. (Contributed photo)
St. John Ambulance aims to install 1,000 publicly accessible AEDs across B.C.

Sponsors sought for stands that cost about $8,000 to equip and install

Most Read