Zombie mink, infected escapees, and COVID outbreaks: How mink farms became a political flash point

Mink farms are notoriously oppressive, but COVID-19 outbreaks at facilities are putting them in the spotlight

https://www.salon.com/2021/03/03/zombie-mink-infected-escapees-covid-outbreaks-how-mink-farms-became-a-political-flash-point/

By MATTHEW ROZSA
MARCH 3, 2021 10:59PM (UTC)

main article imageMink look out from their cage at the farm of Henrik Nordgaard Hansen and Ann-Mona Kulsoe Larsen as they have to kill off their herd, which consists of 3000 mother mink and their cubs on their farm near Naestved, Denmark, on November 6, 2020 (MADS CLAUS RASMUSSEN/Ritzau Scanpix/AFP via Getty Images)Facebook56TwitterRedditEmailcomments

Scott Beckstead remembers the mink that died from terror.

She was a beautiful female with a bluish shade to her coat — they’re known as “sapphires” in the mink industry — and he was at a mink farm owned by his grandfather. Beckstead describes his grandfather as a “kind, wonderful, generous man” who “sincerely tried to give his animals the best life he could.” That said, Beckstead recalled sadly, “there are some realities about mink farming that are just unavoidable.”Advertisement:https://fcbb08fbe086f07cd554333b80283d53.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html

This was one of them.

“The foreman pulled out this sapphire female, and she struggled and she screamed,” Beckstead told Salon, describing an incident occurred in one of the last year that he visited his grandfather’s southern Idaho mink farm. “Then she went limp. She literally died. There is no doubt that she was terrified. She had watched what was happening to the mink next to her. I think, honestly, the only explanation is that she died of sheer terror.”

His grandfather “cursed” when he saw that; “the sapphires are so fragile,” he rued. Beckstead was struck by the fact that his grandfather was genuinely upset at how that mink died. Though she was to be killed for her fur ultimately, he did not want her life to end in the way that it did.Advertisement:

Beckstead is now the director of campaigns for animal wellness action at the Center for a Humane Economy. The organization, a non-profit that tries to change how businesses behave in order to create a humane economic order, is supporting a recently-proposed bill that would ban mink farms in Oregon. There are many reasons to ban mink farms strictly from the perspective of animal rights, but a new reason has incentivize that movement: The COVID-19 pandemic.

For biological reasons, the novel coronavirus is particularly prevalent among mink, as mink and other mustelidae such as ferrets are notorious for unwittingly serving as virus mutation factories. Mink are so prone to developing COVID-19 infections that outbreaks have repeatedly disproportionately cropped up in areas with mink farms. The problem is extremely serious, to the point that last year Denmark ordered thousands of mink to be killed and buried in shallow graves to halt the spread of SARS-CoV-2. This led to the unappealing sight of bloated, decayed mink carcasses literally rising out of their graves as their corpses filled with gas.

Even when diseased minks aren’t threatening humans through zombie-like behavior, mink often put human beings at risk simply because they act like — well, like intelligent, wild animals.Advertisement:https://fcbb08fbe086f07cd554333b80283d53.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html

“When they’re put in confinement, they are in this very unnatural situation,” Lori Ann Burd, environmental health director at the Center for Biological Diversity, told Salon. Unlike pigs, cows, chickens and other animals that have spent generations being domesticated, mink don’t have that history; they still think and behave like wild animals. This is not to say that factory farms aren’t already vectors for disease and pollution (they are), or that mink won’t already be particularly prone to illness from living in such close quarters (they will).

In any case, minks strongly resist being held captive in small cages. And those wild instincts exacerbate matters.Advertisement:

“They’re extremely stressed in those situations,” Burd explained. “Because that confinement is so unnatural, mink are extraordinarily good escape artists.” There was already one instance where an Oregon farm had a COVID-19 outbreak and, despite being under quarantine, three of the mink managed to escape. Of those mink, two tested positive for COVID-19.

“We don’t have any exact numbers on the percent of mink that escape, but it’s obvious that escapes are common,” Burd explained. “They happen even when the facility is supposed to be under a strict quarantine.”

Not surprisingly, Oregon mink farmers are fighting against Senate Bill 832, which would ban mink farms in the state. Burd told Salon that to address this reality, the bill would offer assistance to people who would lose their jobs as a result of the ban. Yet many Oregon officials seem inclined to sweep the issue under the rug.Advertisement:

“They said, you know, ‘Don’t worry about it. We have everything under control,'” Burd recalled when describing how Oregon authorities reacted after her organization contacted them with concerns about mink farming and COVID-19 outbreaks. “That very day, the first outbreak at an Oregon farm was reported.” The Center for Biological Diversity reached out again to express concern that mink could spread the disease to wild animals, which subsequently happened.

Despite their concerns being validated, however, the facility ended its quarantine after testing a “minuscule” percentage of the mink and found them to be negative.

“Workers can come and go freely,” Burd told Salon. “Mink breeding is continuing and we’re very, very concerned because just because a few of the mink tested negative. [That] does not mean it’s not in this facility and COVID-19 in mink is unpredictable in its manifestations.”Advertisement:

Beckstead echoed Burd’s concerns, describing how the mink farming crisis has reached a new level of urgency because the conditions there make them ripe for COVID-19 outbreaks. He also spoke from the heart about how, when one understands the mind of a mink, it is easy to see how the farming practices are inherently cruel.

“This is an animal that has the instinct to be out roaming over vast territory,” Beckstead explained. “The animals are semi-aquatic, so they have a strong instinct to spend a lot of time in the water. To take a wild species and raise it on factory farm conditions is inherently cruel, which I think is why the animal welfare community has long wished that they would eventually become obsolete or extinct.”

He recalled another story from the days on his grandfather’s mink farm, the fact that he was not allowed to visit the mink yard when the females were having their babies because “the slightest disturbance would cause them to cannibalize their litters.”

“Those kinds of stories just speak to me of how unnatural of a setting these mink farms are,” Beckstead explained. “This is not a species that belongs on factory farms. I mean, no species belongs in factory farms, but to factory farm an inherently wild species, I think, adds an additional layer of suffering and misery.”

Poland finds first case of COVID-19 in mink

Author of the article:ReutersReutersPublishing date:Feb 01, 2021  •  7 hours ago  •  1 minute read

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WARSAW — Poland has found its first case of COVID-19 in mink, the agriculture ministry said, raising fears of costly culls in an industry that counts over 350 farms in the country.

With new variants of the coronavirus threatening global efforts to get the pandemic under control, authorities in several countries have begun mass culls of the animals due to fears of a mutated strain of the illness being transmitted to humans.Impaired driving charges in northern Ontario surge by 50 per cent in 2020 https://c5x8i7c7.ssl.hwcdn.net/vplayer-parallel/20201216_1412/ima_html5/index.htmlhttps://c5x8i7c7.ssl.hwcdn.net/vplayer-parallel/20201216_1412/videojs/show.html?controls=1&loop=30&autoplay=0&tracker=e6791365-0a29-412a-bb47-d1cf2908b27f&height=218&width=387&vurl=%2F%2Fa.jsrdn.com%2Fvideos%2Fcdgv_nationalpost%2F20210201061542_60179b47850f9%2Fcdgv_nationalpost_trending_articles_20210201061542_60179b47850f9_new.mp4&poster=%2F%2Fa.jsrdn.com%2Fvideos%2Fcdgv_nationalpost%2F20210201061542_60179b47850f9%2Fcdgv_nationalpost_trending_articles_20210201061542_60179b47850f9_new.jpg

Late on Sunday the ministry said in a statement it had been informed by veterinary inspectors on Saturday of a case in Kartuzy county in northern Poland.

“I hope this is a single case, although we must take all measures to limit possible transmission of the virus,” Deputy Health Minister Waldemar Kraska told local broadcaster Radio Gdansk on Monday, adding that all mink at the affected farm would be culled.

Denmark, the world’s top exporter of mink furs, ordered a cull of the country’s entire population of some 17 million mink in 2020, and in January announced it would compensate farmers with up to 19 billion Danish crowns ($3.09 billion).

In a statement sent to state-run news agency PAP, representatives of the Polish fur industry said the state was not offering any compensation for culled animals, and that they would launch a class action lawsuit demanding damages.

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The agriculture ministry did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment.

The General Veterinary Inspectorate said in a statement it was investigating whether the farm had followed sanitary regulations and that possible compensation or penalties would depend on its findings.

The Regional Veterinary Inspectorate in Gdansk said four samples from the farm had tested positive on Saturday, and that 5,845 mink were in the area affected by the outbreak.

Utah allegedly didn’t disclose mink fur farm worker’s death due to COVID. Sweden suspends mink farming

By Kitty Block and Sara Amundson

January 27, 2021 0 Comments

Utah allegedly didn’t disclose mink fur farm worker’s death due to COVID. Sweden suspends mink farming

Mink fur farming poses such a risk that fur farmers in Wisconsin will be eligible for the next round of vaccines in the state, along with educators and essential workers. Above, a mink in the wild. Photo by Wendy Keefover/The HSUS

One more nation, Sweden, announced today that it will suspend all mink fur farming this year to prevent the spread of the coronavirus and its mutations.

Sweden’s announcement contrasted starkly with a media report in the United States this week that authorities in Utah, one of the nation’s largest fur producing states, allegedly did not disclose the fact that a worker at an infected mink fur farm had died of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. As we have been reporting, the United States has failed to act on concerns about the pandemic risk posed by fur farms even as other nations with infected mink have acted swiftly to curtail it, with some even ending mink fur farming for good.

A Utah Department of Health spokesperson, in an interview with Newsweek, appeared to continue to downplay the risk, saying, “At the time the person became ill, community spread had been increasing rapidly in the surrounding area. No additional deaths associated with mink farms have been reported. Currently, there is no evidence of mink-to-human transmission in the United States.”

Such continuing failure to acknowledge and act on the terrible risk mink fur farming poses to public health is appalling and dangerous. Utah residents—and residents of Michigan, Oregon and Wisconsin, the other fur-producing states in the United States where mink have tested positive—deserve more transparency and concern for public health from their authorities. In December, there were reports of a mutation of the virus discovered on a mink fur farm in Utah.

Mink fur farming poses such a risk that fur farmers in Wisconsin will be eligible for the next round of vaccines in the state, along with educators and essential workers.

We are hopeful that the Biden administration will take steps to end the fur farming industry in the United States. Around the world, we have seen nations act swiftly and decisively to temporarily or permanently shut down the mink fur farming industry over fears of pandemic spread. The Netherlands, the first country where such infections were reported, moved swiftly last year to announce a permanent end to its mink fur farming industry, two years ahead of a previously set deadline. By December last year, all mink cages on fur farms in that country stood empty.

While Sweden’s ban is temporary, we are urging it to use this opportunity to shut down this cruel industry altogether. Denmark, which suspended mink fur farming temporarily until 2022, is moving to proactively shut down the industry, by offering fur farmers funding to transition to other industries.

In November, Hungary announced a ban on fur farming for certain species like fox and mink, which are not farmed in the country now, to prevent fur farmers from other parts of Europe moving there. Officials attributed the ban to fears of zoonotic disease spread from fur farming.

France also announced plans to end mink fur production and one of the farms there has already shut its doors following a coronavirus outbreak.

With the pandemic raging through U.S. mink fur farms, we need similar action here. There is already great momentum for ending fur farming in this country, and in 2019, California became the first state to ban fur sales. Lawmakers in Hawaii and Rhode Island introduced similar proposals last year. The town of Wellesley, Massachusetts, passed a fur sales ban last year.

As we’ve also reported, the mink industry in the United States is in free fall, with 2019 being the industry’s worst on record, according to latest data in a U.S. Department of Agriculture report. Fashion designers, retailers and consumers are increasingly turning away from fur.

Millions of animals live and die in extremely inhumane conditions on fur farms each year for this unnecessary commodity, as our investigations have revealed. They are denied the most basic needs, confined in tiny cages, bludgeoned to death, and sometimes skinned alive. The pandemic has given us one more compelling reason why every nation that still allows fur farming needs to stop this cruelty for good.

Sara Amundson is president of the Humane Society Legislative Fund.

Flying fur prices put fox in focus as mink cull sparks shortage

DECEMBER 13, 20204:24 PMUPDATED 13 DAYS AGO

By Silvia AloisiNikolaj Skydsgaard

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-mink-fur-focus-idINKBN28O00U?fbclid=IwAR2mYNEdjBTTWH5-8KPSwJ39PilaX1WSPUNnuoY0W69C20Q_VtOZuv8xviU

6 MIN READ

MILAN/COPENHAGEN (Reuters) – Denmark’s coronavirus-driven mink cull has put the fur business in a spin, with industry officials expecting fashion houses such as Louis Vuitton, Dior and Fendi to snap up fox and chinchilla to fill the gap.kill 17 million farmedhttps://imasdk.googleapis.com/js/core/bridge3.432.0_en.html#goog_1953459022 

The global fur trade, worth more than $22 billion a year, is reeling from Denmark’s decision to kill 17 million farmed mink after COVID-19 outbreaks at hundreds of farms led to the discovery of a new strain of coronavirus in the mammals.

Worries of a sudden shortage of slinky mink pelts, of which Denmark was the top exporter, have lifted prices by as much as 30% in Asia, the International Fur Federation (IFF) says.

Now, all eyes are on Finland, where one million mink and 250,000 fox pelts will soon be up for grabs for buyers in Korea, China, the United States and elsewhere next week. Auction house Saga Furs plans to hold the international sale, the first since the Danish cull, via livestream from Dec. 15.

A sales programme offers mink fur from both Europe and North America, such as “Pearl Velvet” and “Silverblue Velvet” mink, in addition to “Silver Fox”, “White Finnraccoon” and Russian sable.

Saga Furs, which last year took over its North American rival NAFA, expects to sell all the pelts, compared with a 55% take-up so far in 2020 as a result of the coronavirus crisis.

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“The market will strengthen, an increase in prices will help our business in general,” Saga Furs CEO Magnus Ljung said of the industry, which has seen years of falling prices.

“We’ve already had more requests about foxes, if people see that there is a lack of mink, they could consider using something else,” Ljung told Reuters.

LVMH’s head of sustainability Helene Valade said this week that the French luxury group obtains fur from Finland. The owner of Louis Vuitton, Dior and Fendi, which relies on brokers to bid, says it is using only 100% certified mink, fox and finnraccoon.

Fur demand has been falling since the 1950s, except for a rise between 2000 and 2013 when it was popular on fashion runways and Chinese appetite for luxury pelts boomed, Lise Skov, an academic who researched the Danish fur industry, said.

A typical mink pelt sold for more than $90 at auction in 2013, while last year skins fetched around $30. This was despite a fall in global production to just under 60 million pelts last year, from more than 80 million in 2014.Slideshow ( 5 images )

Euromonitor predicts the value of fur and fur products, both real and faux, will fall by 2.6% this year.

IS FUR FINISHED?

A Danish breeder-owned cooperative that sold 25 million mink hides last year, or 40% of the global total, is considering selling its brand and other assets after announcing that it would gradually shut down operations over the next 2-3 years.

Kopenhagen Fur CEO Jesper Lauge Christensen told Reuters he had received expressions of interest from Chinese customers to take over the auction house’s brand, which he said could be valued at up to 1 billion Danish crowns ($163 million).

It still plans to sell some 25 million pelts over the next two years, from Danish farms not infected by the virus, frozen stocks and foreign animals.

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Animal activists hope the Danish debacle, which has had political repercussions in the country, will finish off the fur industry and demand for items such as $1,700 fur trinkets, $16,000 fur vests and $60,000 fur coats will disappear.

Countries and states which have already banned fur farms or fur products includes Britain, Austria, the Netherlands, France, Norway, Israel and California.

PJ Smith, director of fashion policy at Humane Society International, says that brands still using real fur will ditch it soon, following Gucci, Prada, Armani and others.

But for now, Kopenhagen Fur’s Christensen said fashion brands in Europe had expressed concern they will not be able to find a similar quality to the Danish mink furs.

“One of the biggest challenges from the brand perspective is that the unique Danish qualities will be disappearing from the collection and you cannot source that product elsewhere.”Slideshow ( 5 images )

He said he was looking at selling warehouse facilities and equipment such as automated vision machinery to grade the skins.

China, followed by Russia, is the biggest buyer of Danish fur as its own mink are considered of lower quality than those raised in Europe, where breeding standards are generally higher.

“We wouldn’t choose Chinese-made fur due to its poor quality,” Zhang Changping, owner of China’s Fangtai Fur, told Reuters, adding that it had already bought enough fur at least for the first half of 2021.

Fangtai would shift to auctions in Finland if Denmark failed to supply enough mink in the future, he said.

Niccolò Ricci, chief executive of Italian luxury designer label Stefano Ricci which has many clients in Russia and eastern Europe, said he expected mink prices to increase by up to 50% but that high-end labels like his would continue to seek top quality pelts, mainly from U.S. suppliers.

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“The real shortage could come from 2022, but by then we are hoping mink farmers in Canada, Poland, America and Greece will increase production to replace Danish output,” said IFF head Mark Oaten. Russia and China are also expected to hike output.

“People will also be looking at other types of fur. Fox has been very popular for trimmings, in parkas for example. Wild fur is also becoming more popular, as is chinchilla,” Oaten added.

Reporting by Nikolaj Skydsgaard in Copenhagen and Silvia Aloisi in Milan; additional reporting by Shanghai newsroom and Sarah White in Paris; Editing by Vanessa O’Connell and Alexander Smith

U.S. inaction on infected fur farms poses serious public health risk

By Kitty Block and Sara Amundson

November 23, 2020 3 Comments

U.S. inaction on infected fur farms poses serious public health risk

There have been coronavirus outbreaks on 15 U.S. fur farms, but the infected farms have continued to operate, posing a dangerous potential health risk. Photo by HSI232SHARES

In the midst of a booming coronavirus surge across the United States, a related crisis is brewing on the nation’s mink fur farms where outbreaks have failed to be treated with the same level of concern and seriousness we have seen from other countries.

A recent striking example of this inaction can be found in how the United States has responded to news that a mutation of the coronavirus has been found on mink fur farms in seven countries, including in the United States.

Other countries have already taken steps to counteract fears that the COVID-19 mink variant could interfere with progress on a vaccine. Earlier this month, Denmark, where the variant was also found, ordered a cull of all 17 million mink on its fur farms and last week Irish authorities said they were planning a nationwide cull of mink on fur farms over concerns the animals may have a mutated version of the virus detected in Denmark.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has said that it could be too early to gauge the impact of the mink variant on the vaccine. “When you look at the binding sites [on the spike protein] … it does not appear at this point that the mutation that has been identified in the minks is going to have an impact on vaccines and the effect of vaccine-induced immune response,” Dr. Fauci told The Independent. “It might have an impact on a certain [number] of the monoclonal antibodies that are developed against the virus – we don’t know that yet.”

Infected mink have been found on 15 fur farms in Utah, Wisconsin and Michigan. But state officials in Utah and Wisconsin have continued to insist that there is little evidence of the virus spreading from animals to people, despite confirmed reports from the Netherlands and Denmark that mink do indeed spread the virus to humans (so far, mink are the only species known to transmit the coronavirus back and forth to humans).

Guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Department of Agriculture for fur farmers on handling infected mink has only gone as far as saying animals should be quarantined if it is believed they have contracted COVID-19 and workers should take precautions like wearing a mask and washing their hands.

This lack of action is creating a public health risk for the workers and for the American public. It is also resulting in added suffering for the mink caged on these fur farms.

It is true that there are no good endings for these curious, intelligent animals who are bred and subjected to a life of misery on fur farms before they are slaughtered for their fur. But the coronavirus has multiplied that suffering many times over. Millions of mink have been gassed to death worldwide. Mink are semi-aquatic, meaning they can hold their breaths longer, which only prolongs their suffering when they are gassed.

What is even more inhumane is that in the United States, most of the animals are being allowed to die of respiratory failure, no doubt after they have suffered immensely from the effects of the virus and without any medical care.

The coronavirus crisis has forced us to reexamine our relationship with animals and how we treat them, in the wildlife trade, in factory farms, and on fur farms in particular. Some nations are moving proactively to face this challenge. The Netherlands has announced it will move up its deadline for closing all of its fur farms by two years, to 2021. Denmark is also under pressure to close down its fur industry and recently, the world’s largest auction house, based in Denmark, announced it would close its doors for good. Israel has announced its intentions to ban fur sales, and France has said it will shut down its fur industry.

The U.S. government, too, should immediately take steps to stop the spread of the virus on fur farms, and press for closing down the nation’s fur industry. We already know that U.S. demand for fur is dropping every year with more and more Americans turning to fur alternatives. The coronavirus has shown us that fur’s ill effects stretch far beyond animal suffering, and there is no reason at all to let this cruelty continue for a day longer.

Sara Amundson is president of the Humane Society Legislative Fund.

An Oregon mink farm has reported a Covid-19 outbreak

By Alaa Elassar, CNN

Updated 7:23 PM ET, Sat November 28, 2020

https://www.cnn.com/2020/11/28/us/oregon-mink-farm-covid-19-outbreak-coronavirus-trnd/index.html

Deadly Covid-19 outbreak hits mink farm in Wisconsin

(CNN)An Oregon mink farm has reported an outbreak of coronavirus among mink and farmworkers.Ten mink samples submitted all came back positive for coronavirus, the Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) said in a news release on Friday. The farm has been placed under quarantine, meaning “no animal or animal product can leave the farm until further notice,” according to ODA.

10,000 mink are dead in Covid-19 outbreaks at US fur farms after virus believed spread by humans

10,000 mink are dead in Covid-19 outbreaks at US fur farms after virus believed spread by humansThe farmer and his staff have been advised to self-isolate after multiple coronavirus cases were reported among workers on the farm, the release said.”We have been engaged with the Oregon mink industry for some time, providing information on biosecurity to prevent the introduction of SARS-CoV-2 and were ready to respond,” ODA veterinarian Dr. Ryan Scholz said.Content by Voltaren Arthritis Pain GelChasing the Joy of MovementThis is how world champion cyclist Kristin Armstrong manages her osteoarthritis in a life of constant movement.Content by Voltaren Arthritis Pain GelChasing the Joy of MovementThis is how world champion cyclist Kristin Armstrong manages her osteoarthritis in a life of constant movement.”The farmer did the right thing by self-reporting symptoms very early and he is now cooperating with us and Oregon Health Authority (OHA) in taking care of his animals and staff. So far, we have no reports of mink mortalities linked to the virus but that could change as the virus progresses.”A public health veterinarian team is working with those affected by the outbreak by ensuring staff have personal protective equipment and the supplies needed to follow coronavirus guidance, according to OHA.close dialog

Want tips for navigating the changing workplace?We’ve got you.SIGN ME UPBy subscribing you agree to ourprivacy policy.“Worker safety is critical to protect people and animals on mink farms,” said OHA public health veterinarian Dr. Emilio DeBess. “Our best weapon against the virus right now is education. We are providing testing, specific workplace guidance and support, and supplying additional PPE to the farmer, the employees and their families to help reduce further spread of the virus.”

Coronavirus could drive the last nail into the mink fur trade

Coronavirus could drive the last nail into the mink fur tradeThis year, the virus was detected in mink in seven countries, including the Netherlands, Denmark, Italy, Sweden, and Spain, and three US states, Utah, Michigan, and Wisconsin, according to ODA.Thousands of mink have died at fur farms in Utah and Wisconsin after a series of coronavirus outbreaks. In Utah, ranchers have lost at least 8,000 mink to Covid-19.There is currently no evidence that animals, including mink, play a significant role in transmitting the virus to humans, according to the CDC and the US Department of Agriculture. The risk of animals spreading Covid-19 to humans is considered low.The USDA announces confirmed coronavirus cases in animals each time it is found in a new species. All confirmed cases in animals are posted on the department’s website.

Dead Minks Culled in Denmark Are Rising from Their Shallow Graves After COVID Mutation Concerns

Dead Minks Culled in Denmark Are Rising from Their Shallow Graves After COVID Mutation Concerns

Benjamin VanHoose  1 day ago


Bizarre Swan Deaths Reported in Europe As Birds Die After Bleeding From…Democrat Georgia Rep. Defends GOP Secretary of State After Trump Calls…Dead Minks Culled in Denmark Are Rising from Their Shallow Graves After COVID Mutation Concerns

Minks that were culled in Denmark over coronavirus concerns are beginning to rise out of their shallow graves, according to local news reports.a small grey animal: JENS SCHLUETER/DDP/AFP via Getty Minks© Provided by People JENS SCHLUETER/DDP/AFP via Getty Minks

Earlier this month, Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said at least 12 people were infected with a mutated form of the coronavirus, originating at mink farms, prompting Denmark to order that more than 15 million minks be culled over fears that the strain would spread to humans.a small grey animal: Minks© JENS SCHLUETER/DDP/AFP via Getty Minks

In a new development, some of the dead mink bodies have begun to come up out of the spots they were buried, creating a new public health concern.

“As the bodies decay, gases can be formed,” a national police spokesman told a local news outlet, according to The Guardian. “This causes the whole thing to expand a little. In this way, in the worst cases, the mink get pushed out of the ground.”

RELATED: Rescue Turkeys Get ‘a Seat at the Table, Not on it’ to Enjoy Their Own Thanksgiving Dinnera rodent in a cage: HENNING BAGGER/Ritzau Scanpix/AFP via Getty Minks© Provided by People HENNING BAGGER/Ritzau Scanpix/AFP via Getty Minks

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“This is a natural process. Unfortunately, one meter of soil is not just one meter of soil — it depends on what type of soil it is. The problem is that the sandy soil in West Jutland is too light. So we have had to lay more soil on top,” the spokesperson added.

Overall, there are between 15 and 17 million minks on about 1,100 farms in Denmark.

“It is very, very serious,” Frederiksen said earlier this month, according to Reuters. “We have a great responsibility towards our own population, but with the mutation that has now been found, we have an even greater responsibility for the rest of the world as well.”

According to ABC News, it will cost Denmark — the world’s largest producer of mink furs — up to 5 billion kroner ($785 million) to cull the country’s 15 million minks.

RELATED: Denmark Will Eliminate Its Entire Mink Population as COVID Mutation Spreads to Humans

A COVID-19 outbreak in mink population has also recently spread in the United States, specifically at fur farms across Wisconsin, Michigan and Utah.

Last month, a spokesperson for the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection confirmed to PEOPLE that more than 2,000 minks have died since animals at a farm in Taylor County tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19 in humans.

The Michigan Department of Agricultural & Rural Development also announced last month that minks at one of the state’s fur farms tested positive for SARS-CoV-2. In Utah, nearly 10,000 minks have died of COVID-19 at nine different fur farms, NBC News reported on Oct. 9.

“Minks show open mouth breathing, discharge from their eyes and nose, and are not sick for several days before they pass away,” Utah veterinarian Dr. Dean Taylor told NBC News. “They typically die within the next day.”

Minks were first discovered to be susceptible to SARS-CoV-2 in April when farms in the Netherlands suffered several outbreaks in its animal population, the Associated Press reported. Outbreaks among minks in Spain have since been detected.

As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from the WHO and local public health departments. PEOPLE has partnered with GoFundMe to raise money for the COVID-19 Relief Fund, a GoFundMe.org fundraiser to support everything from frontline responders to families in need, as well as organizations helping communities. For more information or to donate, click here.

Mick Barry TD questions Agriculture Minister about upcoming fur farming legislation

PETITION UPDATE

Irish Council Against Blood Sports ICABSIreland, Ireland

https://www.change.org/p/ban-fur-farming-in-ireland/u/27393155?cs_tk=AiK39gzH5vAXAP8FI18AAXicyyvNyQEABF8BvHTQ1tEdghkRs-ltTsquPMo%3D&utm_campaign=c102a16d7de74500986e50879657e2e1&utm_content=initial_v0_4_0&utm_medium=email&utm_source=petition_update&utm_term=csJUL 27, 2020 — 

Thanks to Mick Barry TD (Cork North Central, Solidarity) for asking Agriculture Minister Dara Calleary about “the progress on legislation regarding the prohibition of fur farming”.

Responding, Minister Calleary said that the Department of Agriculture “is in the process of preparing a Bill to provide for the phased introduction of a ban on fur farming which will include a prohibition on mink farming”.

ACTION ALERT

Contact Minister Calleary and tell him that you want fur farms shut down now (instead of being phased out). Remind him that an 80 per cent majority want fur farming banned.

Email: dara.calleary@oireachtas.ie
Tel: (096) 776 13 OR (01) 618 3331
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/daracalleary
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/daracalleary

Dail Question, 21 July 2020

Mick Barry (Cork North Central, Solidarity): To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine his views on prohibiting fur farming; the progress on legislation regarding the prohibition of fur farming; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17062/20]

Dara Calleary (Mayo, Fianna Fail): My Department is in the process of preparing a Bill to provide for the phased introduction of a ban on fur farming which will include a prohibition on mink farming.

Along with animal welfare considerations, social and economic aspects in relation to the industry need to be taken into account. The Bill will make it illegal for any new fur farms to be established and will put in place phase-out arrangements for the small number of current operators. This will allow for an orderly wind down of the sector and allow time for employees to find alternative opportunities.

The Programme for Government 2020 contains a clear commitment regarding the prohibition of fur farming and Department officials are currently preparing the appropriate draft heads of a Bill to facilitate the achievement of this objective with a view to seeking Government authority at an early date.

https://www.kildarestreet.com/wrans/?id=2020-07-21a.1401


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Spain orders cull of nearly 100,000 farmed mink after animals test positive for Covid-19

By Laura Pérez Maestro and Sara Spary, CNN

https://www.cnn.com/2020/07/17/europe/spain-culls-mink-scli-intl/index.html

Updated 6:19 AM ET, Fri July 17, 2020Almost 100,000 mink on the farm are to be culled after 78 out of 90 animals tested -- equivalent to 87% of the sample -- tested positive for coronavirus.Almost 100,000 mink on the farm are to be culled after 78 out of 90 animals tested — equivalent to 87% of the sample — tested positive for coronavirus.

(CNN)Spanish authorities have ordered the culling of almost 100,000 mink following an outbreak at a farm, where the animals are bred for fur,after a number tested positive for the novel coronavirus.The Department of Agriculture, Livestock and Environment of Spain’s Aragon region said in a statement on Thursday that it had ordered the slaughter of the 92,700 mink after seven workers on the farm tested positive for Covid-19 and the animals were found to be infected with the coronavirus.

A mink may have infected a human with Covid-19, Dutch authorities believe

A mink may have infected a human with Covid-19, Dutch authorities believeAs a precaution the department shut down the farm, in Teruel, eastern Spain, on May 22, for monitoring before conducting a number of tests at random, which initially returned a negative result.However, subsequent tests, the most recent of which was July 7, confirmed 78 out of 90 animals tested — equivalent to 87% of the sample — had become infected with the coronavirus.Content by CNN UnderscoredThe best deals in Apple’s Amazon storeYes, Apple has set up shop on Amazon. That means you can get official Apple products with free Prime shipping.In the statement, the department said no conclusions could be drawn as to whether “there is human-to-animal transmission or vice versa,” and that “no abnormal behavior has been detected in the animals nor has there been an increase in mortality in them.”However, it said all mink on the farm would be slaughtered as a preventative measure.

Can animals spread Covid-19 to humans?

This is not the first mink farm to have seen a coronavirus outbreak. In May, Dutch authorities introduced mandatory testing at all mink farms in the Netherlands after they said they believed a mink might have infected a human with Covid-19.The testing has led to the culling of up to one million mink in the country at two dozen farms, according to animal welfare charity Humane Society International.”On the basis of new research results from the ongoing research into Covid-19 infections at mink farms, it is plausible that an infection took place from mink to human,” the Dutch government said in a statement at the time. “It also appears from this research that minks can have Covid-19 without displaying symptoms.”

The virus hunters who search bat caves to predict the next pandemic

The virus hunters who search bat caves to predict the next pandemicThe Dutch government also said it believed cats may play a role in the spread of the virus between farms. “Ongoing research shows the viruses at two of the infected farms are very similar,” the statement said. Covid-19 was found in three out of 11 cats at one mink farm, it said.The virus has been seen in a variety of other animals, including a number of tigers in New York’s Bronx Zoo in April and a dog in Hong Kong.According to the World Health Organization, while it is not possible to determine precisely the source of the virus, it most likely originated in bats. However, more research needs to be conducted to determine how the virus potentially spreads from animals to humans as the role animals play in the spread of the virus remains unclear.

CNN’s Mick Krever, Rob Picheta and Julia Hollingsworth contributed to this story.

HSI undercover investigation shows foxes bludgeoned, skinned alive on Asian fur farms

July 7, 2020 0 Comments

HSI undercover investigation shows foxes bludgeoned, skinned alive on Asian fur farms

The animals are crammed into tiny wire cages where they can barely move. It’s the only space they’ll ever know, and it is a terrible one. Feces pile up under the cages, and their water bowls are either dry or a fetid pool of algae.Share186TweetRedditEmail186SHARES

The cruelty of fur is on terrifying display in these scenes from a fur farm, captured on video by investigators working with Humane Society International. Foxes are pulled out of their cages, one by one, usually by their tails as they try to cling to the wire walls in terror. Each is thrown to the ground and repeatedly bludgeoned in the head and face with a metal rod. The animals struggle and tremble, badly injured but not yet dead. The ground is stained with the blood that pours out of their heads.

Moments later, if you can still bear to watch (warning: the linked video contains images that many will find disturbing), you’ll see men skinning the animals, some still alive, after which their bodies are dumped like trash. The camera moves to a pile of discarded carcasses, including one skinned animal who raises his head, slowly and painfully.

It’s hard to imagine a worse way to die. But the lives of the nearly 100 million animals killed each year for their fur, including foxes, raccoon dogs and mink, are hardly any better: they spend all of their days in captivity at fur factory farms like these. As you see in the undercover footage, the animals are crammed into tiny wire cages where they can barely move. It’s the only space they’ll ever know, and it is a terrible one. Feces pile up under the cages, and their water bowls are either dry or a fetid pool of algae. The animals are never seen by a veterinarian, and many exhibit symptoms of mental distress and decline.

Skinned animals are heaped in a pile at a fur farm. Animals are sometimes skinned while still alive.

Investigators filmed this footage at 11 randomly selected fur farms in one of the top fur-producing countries in Asia. We are choosing not to reveal the country in order to protect the identity of the investigators. Besides, it’s important not to lose sight of the true culprits here: fur factory farms like these would not exist if designers, retailers and consumers did not provide a market for these cruel products.

With growing awareness about the immense suffering of animals in the fur industry, major fashion houses and retailers the world over have shunned it. In the last few years alone, we have worked with major fashion brands and retailers, including Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s, Prada, Gucci, Armani, Michael Kors, Jimmy Choo, YOOX Net-A-Porter, Farfetch, Donna Karan, Burberry, Coach and others, to announce fur-free policies. California last year became the first U.S. state to ban fur, and we are working to pass similar bans in cities and states across the United States, including Minneapolis, Rhode Island and Hawaii.

Globally, HSI has kept up the momentum against fur. HSI/United Kingdom spearheads the campaign to make Britain the first country in the world to ban the sale of fur. The U.K. banned fur farming two decades ago but still imports tens of thousands of pounds of fur each year. More than a dozen European countries, including Austria, the Czech Republic and Norway, have also banned fur production.

The Netherlands, once the third largest fur farming country in the world, banned fur production in 2013 with an 11-year phaseout. But in recent months, the coronavirus crisis has added even more urgency to end the fur trade there and around the world. After two fur farm workers in the Netherlands were reported to have contracted the virus from infected mink, the country killed hundreds of thousands of mink, most of them pups, on 20 Dutch fur factory farms to stop any further spread of the virus. The Dutch government is now considering a permanent closure of all mink fur farms in the country. Denmark, which is Europe’s largest mink producer, has also discovered infected mink on three fur farms. Infectious disease experts had already warned fur farms could act as reservoirs for the disease, and with this cull, we have seen even more needless suffering play out for these animals.

The fur trade has nothing to offer except the worst sort of cruelty for a product no one needs. So many warm and stylish alternatives indistinguishable from animal fur are now widely available to consumers, and even a single animal bred and killed for their fur is one too many. This gruesome video is a reminder that we still have a long way to go, but we won’t stop until this cruel commodity is wiped out for good, and no animal is beaten to death and skinned alive on a fur farm anywhere in the world.

Warning: Video below contains images many may find disturbing.https://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/YtNXaYk12e4?wmode=transparent&iv_load_policy=1&modestbranding=0&rel=0&autohide=1&feature=youtu.be&autoplay=0