A mink sniffs the air as he surveys the river beach in search of food, in meadow near the village of Khatenchitsy, 65 kilometres northwest of Minsk, Belarus on September 4, 2015. The Union of BC Indian Chiefs (UBCIC) is the latest group to speak out against mink farming in the province. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Sergei Grits

A mink sniffs the air as he surveys the river beach in search of food, in meadow near the village of Khatenchitsy, 65 kilometres northwest of Minsk, Belarus on September 4, 2015. The Union of BC Indian Chiefs (UBCIC) is the latest group to speak out against mink farming in the province. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Sergei Grits

Union of BC Indian Chiefs latest group to call for moratorium on B.C. mink farming

With other countries phasing out mink farming, time is now for province to follow suit, says union VP

The Union of BC Indian Chiefs (UBCIC) is the latest group to speak out against mink farming in the province.

It joins the BC SPCA and other advocates calling for a moratorium on B.C. industrial mink ranches to end the farming of wild animals for luxury products.

Mink farming has been making headlines since December 2020 when COVID-19 made its way to two farms in the Fraser Valley, including one in Chilliwack, over the course of a few weeks. During that month, more than 200 mink died at the Chilliwack location and at least 23 at the second Fraser Valley farm. An additional 1,000 were euthanized as a precaution.

“UBCIC supports the ethical harvesting of fur for cultural and ceremonial purposes, and for purposes that align with Indigenous ways and respect values of conservation and stewardship,” said Grand Chief Stewart Philip, UBCIC president. “However, UBCIC does not condone the industrial breeding, confinement and slaughtering of minks for international luxury markets especially as, notwithstanding the current public health risks, mink farms have long been implicated in cruel and inhumane fur farming practices that have led to unacceptable animal welfare outcomes.”

Just two days after the Dec. 6, 2020 COVID-19 outbreak that was declared at the first mink ranch, Pamela Anderson penned a letter to B.C. Premier John Horgan asking him close down fur farms in British Columbia.

READ MORE: Pamela Anderson calls on Horgan to ban fur farming after COVID-19 outbreak at mink farm

Later that same month, the BC SPCA called for a moratorium through an immediate suspension of all mink farm licenses.

“For the BC SPCA there are two issues,” said Geoff Urton, spokesperson for the BC SPCA. “The first is the ongoing suffering caused by keeping wild animals in tiny wire cages. The second is the continued risk to people and animals in our communities amid a pandemic.”

READ MORE: BC SPCA calls for moratorium after minks, workers at farm contract COVID

In January, several prominent environmentalists and experts, including David Suzuki, spoke out against mink farms in a letter to two B.C. ministers.

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

There are 13 mink ranches in B.C., almost all of which are in the Fraser Valley.

“With many countries having banned fur farming altogether, and with COVID-19 leading countries like the Netherlands and France to accelerate their phasing out of mink farms, the time is now for the province to follow suit and issue a moratorium on mink farming, including immediately suspending breeding programs at all 13 mink farms in B.C.,” said Chief Don Tom, UBCIC vice president.

In 2018, more than 260,000 mink were killed for fur in B.C., despite 85 per cent of British Columbians opposing such a practice, Tom added.

“UBCIC calls upon the province to consider the long-term viability and impacts of industrial fur farming.”

READ MORE: COVID-19 outbreak declared at Chilliwack mink ranch

READ MORE: COVID-19 has made its way to second B.C. mink farm, no workers sick


 

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