More calls to ban mink farms after animal at 3rd B.C. facility tests positive for coronavirus
VANCOUVER -- With a mink on another B.C. farm testing positive for the virus that causes COVID-19 this week, a growing a list of an animal welfare advocates have banded together to demand that the B.C. government ban mink farms in the province.
The BC SPCA, The Humane Society International, The Fur-Bearers and The Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs have joined the call first introduced in a letter written by infectious disease experts in March.
"It is at the point that anything less than a total ban would be the B.C. government putting private interest ahead of public health," said Kelly Butler of Humane Society International, Canada.
Members of the group told CTV News Vancouver they warned the government about the spread of the virus on farms when Europe – particularly Denmark – killed millions of mink as a precaution last year.
At the time, the B.C. Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries vowed to tighten farm screening protocols, and the industry similarly promised changes.
"But it has happened again," said Dr. Sara Dubois, chief scientific officer at the BC SPCA. "We knew this was inevitable. There’s only 10 mink farms in British Columbia, and now three of them have had an outbreak."
The former director of the Fur Council of Canada accused the groups of using the pandemic to further their agenda.
"They’ve jumped on this COVID story, and are fanning fears, which I think is really unfair and unfortunate," said Alan Herscovici.
He argued the mink that tested positive this week in the Fraser Valley – and the two that are suspected of being positive – weren't showing sings of illness.
"And a quarantine was put in place, so that just shows that the system is working,” he added.
In a statement, the provincial government said its focus is on keeping the public safe from COVID-19.
"As our response and recovery from the pandemic increases, we will have the opportunity to better research, review and understand the susceptibility of mink to COVID-19, how other jurisdictions are responding to it, and the best course forward for B.C.," reads the statement from The B.C. Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries.