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

February 17, 2021 - Kaelyn (L) and Costin Campbell are Goldstream News Gazette 2021 Local Heroes.
Pint-sized duo inspires others to be green

Costin and Kaelyn Campbell are this year’s Environmental Heroes

Erin Oldman received a scholarship through Royal Roads University (RRU), called the Legacy Award, which is given out once every five years. Oldman graduated from RRU with a Masters of Arts in Human Security and Peacebuilding, and is using the award to establish a charity called International Humanitarian Assessments, which helps people in war-torn areas of the Middle East. (Photo contributed by Erin Oldman)
Royal Roads University graduate receives $25,000 award

Erin Oldman will use the award to establish a charity in the Middle East

Sandy Carmichael is a Goldstream Gazette 2021 Local Hero as Seniors’ Champion. (Don Denton/Black Press Media)
Worker bee returns to volunteer: Sandy Carmichael a fixture at Langford Royal Canadian Legion

Sandy Carmichael is the 2021 recipient of the Seniors’ Champion Award

SD 62 (Sooke) has announced a COVID-19 exposure at David Cameron Elementary in Colwood. Potential exposure dates are Monday, Feb. 22; Tuesday, Feb. 23; and Wednesday, Feb. 24. (Black Press Media File).
COVID-19 exposure at Colwood’s David Cameron Elementary

Potential exposure dates are Monday, Feb. 22; Tuesday, Feb. 23; and Wednesday, Feb. 24.

Central Saanich has received funding for a new multi-use pathway that promises to improve access to Butchart Gardens. (Black Press Media File)
Central Saanich receives grant for multi-use pathway to Butchart Gardens

Province funds entirety of $322,800 project through economic recovery grant program

A health worker holds a vial of AstraZeneca vaccine to be administered to members of the police at a COVID-19 vaccination center in Mainz, Germany, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021. The federal state of Rhineland-Palatinate, start with the vaccination of police officers in internal police vaccination centers. (Andreas Arnold/dpa via AP)
B.C. officials to unveil new details of COVID vaccination plan Monday

Seniors and health-care workers who haven’t gotten their shot are next on the list

Lone orca from a pod that made its way north from Georgia Strait and into Discovery Passage on Saturday, Feb. 27, 2021. Photo by Ella Smiley/<a href="https://www.facebook.com/Comoxvalleywildlifesightings/?ref=page_internal" target="_blank">Comox Valley Wildlife Sightings </a>
Island wildlife viewers thrilled by close view of passing Orca pod

Group gives wildlife photographers a classic oportunity to view them off Campbell River shoreline

An investigation is underway after a man was shot and killed by Tofino RCMP in Opitsaht. (Black Press Media file photo)
Man shot and killed by RCMP near Tofino, police watchdog investigating

Investigation underway by Independent Investigations Office of British Columbia.

B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver on Tuesday December 11, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C.’s compromise on in-person worship at three churches called ‘absolutely unacceptable’

Would allow outdoor services of 25 or less by Langley, Abbotsford and Chilliwack churches

Baldy Mountain Resort was shut down on Saturday after a fatal workplace accident. (Baldy Mountain picture)
Jasmine and Gwen Donaldson are part of the CAT team working to reduce stigma for marginalized groups in Campbell River. Photo by Marc Kitteringham, Campbell River Mirror
Jasmine’s story: Stigma can be the hardest hurdle for those overcoming addiction

Recovering B.C. addict says welcome, connection and community key for rebuilding after drug habit

A Vancouver restaurant owner was found guilty of violating B.C.’s Human Rights Code by discriminating against customers on the basis of their race. (Pixabay)
Vancouver restaurant owner ordered to pay $4,000 to customers after racist remark

Referring to patrons as ‘you Arabs’ constitutes discrimination under B.C.’s Human Rights Code, ruling deems

Dasher is back home with mom Christine Girvin thanks to some help from BC Ferries staff. Photo supplied
The cat came back, with help from BC Ferries staff

After Dasher made a dash, staff in Comox found her and got her home safe

Nanaimo children’s author and illustrator Lindsay Ford’s latest book is ‘Science Girl.’ (Photo courtesy Lindsay Ford)
B.C. children’s writer encourages girls to pursue the sciences in new book

Lindsay Ford is holding a virtual launch for latest book, ‘Science Girl’

Most Read