A mink at a farm, taken on July 9, 2015. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Geoff Robins

A mink at a farm, taken on July 9, 2015. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Geoff Robins

Quarantined B.C. mink farm resumes breeding after COVID-19 outbreak

Province approves resumption of breeding at Fraser Valley farm, and 8 others not in quarantine

A mink farm that is still quarantined after a COVID-19 outbreak has begun its annual breeding program along with eight other farms in British Columbia.

The Agriculture Ministry said the province’s chief veterinarian, Dr. Rayna Gunvaldsen, has approved the resumption of breeding while the farm remains under quarantine to reduce the risk of the virus spreading.

About 200 mink died late last year at the farm where COVID-19 was detected among employees, and Gunvaldsen has said the animals were likely infected after eight people became ill.

However, a second farm that remains quarantined is not currently breeding stock, the ministry said in a statement Wednesday about the Fraser Valley facility where a breeder decided to euthanize about 1,000 mink in January after three of the animals died.

Staff are in contact with all licensed mink farms to ensure precautions are in place to minimize any transmission of COVID-19 from humans to animals or from animals to humans, it said.

The B.C. chapter of the SPCA has called for a moratorium on mink farming, saying the animals are kept in tightly packed cages where infection spreads quickly and they shouldn’t be killed for clothing.

A non-profit society called The Fur-Bearers has also said it’s time to end the practice of using fur for apparel, especially because the industry is not a big economic driver for the country.

Alan Herscovici of the Canada Breeders Association said years of research has gone into the optimal raising of mink, and animal rights group that have opposed fur farming for years are now using COVID-19 to spread fear against a mostly family-run “artisanal” industry.

“That’s really irresponsible and not true and not fair,” he said from Ste-Agathe-des-Monts, Que.

“This is not a time to be attacking farmers. It’s a time to be supportive. Frankly, it’s offensive. And it’s all happening because of what happened in Denmark,” he said of the world’s largest supplier of mink fur, where at least 15 million mink were culled last year to reduce the spread of COVID-19 from farm to farm.

Canada is known for producing some of the highest-quality mink fur in the world, as is the United States, Herscovici said.

“That’s only done with excellent care for the animals.”

Sixty mink farms across the country established strict precautions last year to restrict visitors, require employees to wear personal protective equipment and tell them not to come to work if they are feeling sick.

“They’ve apparently been very successful because we’ve only had these two farms in all of Canada where COVID was brought to the animals and the animals were infected,” Herscovici said.

Four mink farms also experienced outbreaks in separate U.S. states, and all of them followed similar procedures, he added.

The National Farm Animal Care Council develops codes of practice, the same for other livestock, he said, and provincial governments license and inspect the farms.

Most of Canada’s mink farms are in Ontario and Nova Scotia.

AgricultureFarming

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

Just Posted

Kira Stowell rode her way to first place in the senior pole bending event at the combined High School Rodeo in Quesnel in the only event of 2020. All regional high school events have been cancelled, although there are still hopes for provincials. (Cassidy Dankochik Photo - Quesnel Cariboo Observer)
High school rodeo events cancelled

Rodeos were planned for Williams Lake and Quesnel in early May

Responding to the layoffs announced at Gibraltar Mine north of Williams Lake this week, B.C.’s Minister of Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation Bruce Ralston said the ministry is working diligently to see the situation resolved as quickly as possible. (Taseko Mines photo)
Gibraltar Mine permit change consultation period extended to May 7, 2021: energy and mines minister

“We are working dilgently to see this resolved as quickly as possible,” minister said

Quesnel city council approved a pride crosswalk, similar to the one installed in Williams Lake in 2018. Williams Lake Pride supporters Denise Deschene, Charlotte Mortimer, Charlie Konopke (standing) and Pride interm president Chasity-Blu Wright were on hand to see it painted. (File Photo)
COUNCIL BRIEFS: A packed meeting

Quesnel city council was kept busy on April 20

Dawson Road Maintenance crews have been working on road base failures on Highway 20. (Dawson Road Maintenance Facebook photo)
ROAD REPORT: Dawson Road Maintenance provides update on Cariboo Chilcotin road conditions

Road bases still soft, saturated at multiple locations in Cariboo Chilcotin due to spring freshet

A Quesnel Volunteer Firefighter gets a hose on flames shooting from a house trailer completely engulfed in flames. (Cassidy Dankochik Photo - Quesnel Cariboo Observer)
WATCH: Fire crews respond to fire in North Quesnel

Emergency crews are on scene near Lear Road for what appears to be a residential fire

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and United States President Joe Biden smile as they say farewell following a virtual joint statement in Ottawa, Tuesday, February 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau pledges to cut emissions by 40% to 45% by 2030, short of U.S. goal

Trudeau announced target during a virtual climate summit convened by U.S. President Joe Biden

MLA Shirley Bond, right, answers questions during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on February 19, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Former B.C. gaming minister says she wasn’t told directly about dirty cash flowing to casinos

Shirley Bond said Thursday civil forfeiture, gang violence and gambling addiction were also major concerns in 2011

RCMP Constable Etsell speaks to tourists leaving the area at a police roadblock on Westside Road south of Fintry, B.C., Thursday, July 23, 2009. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Yvonne Berg
B.C. police say they take ‘exception’ to conducting roadblocks limiting travel

Asking the police to enforce roadblocks exposes officers to further risk and possible COVID-19 infections, says federation president Brian Sauve

As part of the province’s strategy to combat the opioid overdose crisis, take-home naloxone kits have been distributed throughout the province. (Courtesy of Gaëlle Nicolussi)
Vancouver Island could be at its worst point of overdose crises yet: medical health officer

Island Health issued overdose advisories for Victoria, various communities in the last two weeks

BC Hydro released a survey Thursday, April 22. It found that many British Columbians are unintentionally contributing to climate change with their yard maintenance choices. (Pixabay)
Spend a lot of time doing yard work? It might be contributing to climate change

Recent BC Hydro survey finds 60% of homeowners still use gas-powered lawnmowers and yard equipment

Journal de Montreal is seen in Montreal, on Thursday, April 22, 2021. The daily newspaper uses a file picture of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau dressed in traditional Indian clothing during his trip to India to illustrate a story on the Indian variant of the coronavirus. Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press
Montreal newspaper blasted for front-page photo of Trudeau in India

Trudeau is wearing traditional Indian clothes and holding his hands together in prayer beside a caption that reads, ‘The Indian variant has arrived’

Nanaimo RCMP say a man was injured while pouring gunpowder on a backyard fire in Harewood on Wednesday, April 21. (File photo)
Nanaimo man hospitalized after pouring gunpowder onto backyard fire

RCMP investigating explosion in Harewood also came across a still for making alcohol on property

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry arrives for briefing on the COVID-19 situation, B.C. legislature, Oct. 26, 2020 (B.C. government)
B.C. sees 1,006 COVID-19 cases Thursday, ‘alarming’ 502 in hospital

Vaccine bookings for people aged 60 and older set to start

Most Read