BC SPCA calling for ban on mink farming following COVID-19 outbreak

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It was found and tested near an infected fur farm, and that has some national groups raising alarms.

The BC SPCA is calling for a moratorium on mink farming in British Columbia through an immediate suspension of all mink farm licenses, after eight workers on a Fraser Valley fur farm tested positive for COVID-19.

"The cramped conditions of thousands of mink on farms creates risky conditions or the spread of SARS-CoV2". As a result, Denmark made a decision to cull its entire mink stock: more than 15 million mink.

Minks can be farmed in B.C. because of exemptions to the provincial Wildlife Act's ban on the keeping of native wildlife, Urton says. But until now, no wild mink cases had been detected, despite ongoing testing of mink, raccoons, skunks, and other animals around farms with infections.

Several animals from different wildlife species were sampled and all tested negative, the USDA added.

The USDA has notified the World Organisation for Animal Health about this development but the American agency stressed that it is still not confirmed that coronavirus has spread across wild populations around infected mink farms.

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"Outbreaks at mink farms in Europe and other areas have shown captive mink to be susceptible to SARS-CoV-2, and it is not unexpected that wild mink would also be susceptible to the virus", says USDA spokesperson Lyndsay Cole.

The BC SPCA has written to B.C.'s Chief Veterinary Officer, the Provincial Health Officer and Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries, expressing concerns for public and animal health and the need to immediately suspend all fur farm licenses.

The virus has also been found in zoo tigers and household cats and dogs.

In Denmark, mink also sickened farm workers, according to genomic analysis.

There are 13 mink farms in the province, mostly in the Fraser Valley, for fur production.

An American mink, like the one pictured here, is the first wild animal to test positive for the coronavirus. "Given the risk that this nightmare scenario is unfolding in Utah, we urge officials in every state with mink farms to take aggressive measures to ensure that this awful disease does not decimate wildlife populations".

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