COVID-19 outbreak on BC factory fur farm underscores urgent need to end fur farming across Canada

Provincial and federal action is needed now to phase out cruel fur farming and protect Canadians from potentially devastating disease outbreaks

Humane Society International / Canada


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MONTREAL—In the wake of a COVID-19 outbreak among workers and animals at a factory fur farm in BC’s Fraser Valley, Humane Society International/Canada is once again calling on provincial and federal governments to end fur farming in Canada. Of those holding an opinion, 78% of Canadians support a national ban on fur farming (Insights West, 2020). Yet in stark contrast to Canadian opinion, a 2020 CBC News analysis revealed that more than $100 million in federal and provincial funds have been allocated to the mink farming industry since 2014 alone.

Eight workers and at least five minks at the BC factory fur farm have contracted SARS-CoV-2. In other major mink producing nations, including Denmark, significant outbreaks of COVID-19—and alarming mutations of the virus, as well as transmissions to people—have been well documented in factory mink farms. These outbreaks have led to the decision to slaughter more than 15 million minks in horrific ways, along with the quarantining of hundreds of thousands of people. Clearly, the millions of minks that are intensively confined in Canadian factory fur farms are highly susceptible to contracting, mutating and transmitting SARS-CoV-2, which can result in outbreaks in human populations and undermine medical progress.

Kelly Butler, wildlife campaign manager for HSI/Canada, stated, “Factory fur farms cannot begin to meet the most basic of needs of the wild animals they imprison and kill for fashion and they create a strong opportunity for transmission and mutation of zoonotic diseases including COVID-19. It is unconscionable that our federal and provincial governments continue to allow and subsidize this cruel industry and put the health and safety of Canadians at risk simply to serve the whims of the fashion industry.”

Multiple investigations of Canadian fur farms in recent years have exposed the horrific conditions on factory fur farms. In one of these, the chief scientific officer to the BC SPCA discussed her 2014 observations at a BC fur farm, stating, “70,000 mink squirmed in cages the size of two shoe boxes as heaps of their own excrement mounted on the floor beneath them. Many were missing limbs, digits and ears, and one animal—mysteriously paralyzed—had to be euthanized on site.”

Nearly two million animals are slaughtered on fur farms in Canada annually. Fur farming has already been banned in 12 countries, and is effectively banned or being phased out in many others.

ENDS

Media Contact: Michael Bernard, HSI/Canada, deputy director: 613.371.5170; mbernard@hsi.org

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