A mink at a farm, taken on July 9, 2015. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Geoff Robins

A mink at a farm, taken on July 9, 2015. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Geoff Robins

Quarantined B.C. mink farm resumes breeding after COVID-19 outbreak

Province approves resumption of breeding at Fraser Valley farm, and 8 others not in quarantine

A mink farm that is still quarantined after a COVID-19 outbreak has begun its annual breeding program along with eight other farms in British Columbia.

The Agriculture Ministry said the province’s chief veterinarian, Dr. Rayna Gunvaldsen, has approved the resumption of breeding while the farm remains under quarantine to reduce the risk of the virus spreading.

About 200 mink died late last year at the farm where COVID-19 was detected among employees, and Gunvaldsen has said the animals were likely infected after eight people became ill.

However, a second farm that remains quarantined is not currently breeding stock, the ministry said in a statement Wednesday about the Fraser Valley facility where a breeder decided to euthanize about 1,000 mink in January after three of the animals died.

Staff are in contact with all licensed mink farms to ensure precautions are in place to minimize any transmission of COVID-19 from humans to animals or from animals to humans, it said.

The B.C. chapter of the SPCA has called for a moratorium on mink farming, saying the animals are kept in tightly packed cages where infection spreads quickly and they shouldn’t be killed for clothing.

A non-profit society called The Fur-Bearers has also said it’s time to end the practice of using fur for apparel, especially because the industry is not a big economic driver for the country.

Alan Herscovici of the Canada Breeders Association said years of research has gone into the optimal raising of mink, and animal rights group that have opposed fur farming for years are now using COVID-19 to spread fear against a mostly family-run “artisanal” industry.

“That’s really irresponsible and not true and not fair,” he said from Ste-Agathe-des-Monts, Que.

“This is not a time to be attacking farmers. It’s a time to be supportive. Frankly, it’s offensive. And it’s all happening because of what happened in Denmark,” he said of the world’s largest supplier of mink fur, where at least 15 million mink were culled last year to reduce the spread of COVID-19 from farm to farm.

Canada is known for producing some of the highest-quality mink fur in the world, as is the United States, Herscovici said.

“That’s only done with excellent care for the animals.”

Sixty mink farms across the country established strict precautions last year to restrict visitors, require employees to wear personal protective equipment and tell them not to come to work if they are feeling sick.

“They’ve apparently been very successful because we’ve only had these two farms in all of Canada where COVID was brought to the animals and the animals were infected,” Herscovici said.

Four mink farms also experienced outbreaks in separate U.S. states, and all of them followed similar procedures, he added.

The National Farm Animal Care Council develops codes of practice, the same for other livestock, he said, and provincial governments license and inspect the farms.

Most of Canada’s mink farms are in Ontario and Nova Scotia.

AgricultureFarming

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

In a feature article published April 10, 2021 in The Times of London, ‘headlined British Columbia has what it takes to rival Napa Valley,’ the valley is praised extensively for its natural beauty and wine. (File photo)
From the U.K. with love: Okanagan wine, scenery receives international praise

The Times of London newspaper recently featured the valley in a wine and travel piece

FILE — In this March 31, 2021 file photo, a nurse fills a syringe with a dose of the Johnson & Johnson’s one-dose COVID-19 vaccine at the Vaxmobile, at the Uniondale Hempstead Senior Center, in Uniondale, N.Y. The U.S. is recommending a “pause” in administration of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine to investigate reports of potentially dangerous blood clots. In a joint statement Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration said it was investigating clots in six women in the days after vaccination, in combination with reduced platelet counts. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File)
72 new COVID-19 cases in Interior Health

This brings the total number of cases in the region to 9,666 since the pandemic began

Conservation officers caught three men over fishing bull trout in Kinbasket Lake. (Facebook)
B.C. men fined $1.7K for overfishing near Revelstoke, Golden

The seized fish were donated to the Golden Food Bank

Kootenay-Columbia MP Rob Morrison. Photo courtesy Conservative Party of Canada.
MP Morrison hopes for economic recovery plan in upcoming federal budget

Kootenay-Columbia Conservative looking for post-pandemic recovery plan in next week’s Liberal budget

The airport was one of several to receiving funding for its medevec services. (Columbia Valley Airport photo)
Fairmont airport receives $90,000 in Provincial funding

It’s one of several airports to receive provincial funding

Restaurant patrons enjoy the weather on a patio in Vancouver, B.C., Monday, April 5, 2021. The province has restricted indoor dining at all restaurants in B.C. due to a spike in COVID-19 numbers. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C.’s COVID-19 indoor dining, drinking ban extending into May

Restaurant association says patio rules to be clarified

Marylou Jensen. (Contributed)
Kelowna RCMP searching for missing senior

Marylou Jensen left her Grenfell Road home on foot at 5 p.m.

A dumpster was on fire behind a residential complex in downtown Penticton Tuesday afternoon. (Brennan Phillips Western News)
Dumpster fire extinguished in downtown Penticton

There has been a string of dumpster fires lately

Skogie’s Express Tunnel Wash on Anderson Way in Vernon. (Submitted photo)
Lawsuit dismissed after vehicle damaged while inside Okanagan car wash

Civil Resolution Tribunal dismisses driver’s claim following a collision inside Skogie’s car wash in Vernon

The future of the Eagle Pass Lookout cabin is being discussed. (File photo)
Options presented for future of former Eagle Pass fire lookout in Shuswap

Stakeholders met in 2020 to discuss the restoration, or possible removal of the cabin

(Mayor Cindy Fortin - Peachland)
Peachland mayor declines early vaccination offer

Mayor Cindy Fortin said she wants seniors, immunocompromised individuals to get the shot first

B.C. Premier John Horgan speaks at the B.C. legislature. (B.C. government)
Tougher COVID-19 restrictions in B.C., including travel, still ‘on the table’: Horgan

John Horgan says travel restrictions will be discussed Wednesday by the provincial cabinet

NorKam secondary student Karis Wilson in the outfit that got her sent home from school on Feb. 23, 2021. (Kamloops This Week photo)
Clothing that ‘detracts from learning process’ removed from SD73 student dress code

Policy change underway after student in knee-length dress, long-sleeve turtleneck sent home

A shop up on Grand Oro Road near Twin Lakes burned down on Monday. (Facebook)
Fire rips through shop in small South Okanagan town

The building was destroyed despite community efforts to fight the fire

Most Read