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.

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

Just Posted

Elvira D’Angelo, 92, waits to receive her COVID-19 vaccination shot at a clinic in Montreal, Sunday, March 7, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
110 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

Provincial health officers announced 1,005 new cases throughout B.C.

Tala MacDonald, a 17-year-old student at Mount Sentinel Secondary who is also a volunteer firefighter, has won the $100,000 Loran Scholarship. Photo: Submitted
West Kootenay student wins $100K scholarship

Tala MacDonald is one of 30 Canadians to receive the Loran Scholarship

Kristian Camero and Jessica Wood, seen here, co-own The Black Cauldron with Stephen Barton. The new Nelson restaurant opened earlier this month while indoor dining is restricted by the province. Photo: Tyler Harper
A restaurant opens in Nelson, and no one is allowed inside

The Black Cauldron opened while indoor dining is restricted in B.C.

First-year Selkirk College student Terra-Mae Box is one of many talented writers who will read their work at the Black Bear Review’s annual (virtual) launch on April 22. Photo: Submitted
An early shot of Nakusp’s Centennial building. (Contributed)
Nakusp library turns 100 years old

The instiution has more than books

Vancouver resident Beryl Pye was witness to a “concerning,” spontaneous dance party that spread throughout social groups at Kitsilano Beach on April 16. (Screen grab/Beryl Pye)
VIDEO: Dance party erupts at Vancouver’s Kitsilano Beach to the dismay of onlookers

‘It was a complete disregard for current COVID-19 public health orders,’ says Vancouver resident Beryl Pye

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland responds to a question during Question Period in the House of Commons Tuesday December 8, 2020 in Ottawa. The stage is set for arguably the most important federal budget in recent memory, as the Liberal government prepares to unveil its plan for Canada’s post-pandemic recovery even as a third wave of COVID-19 rages across the country. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Election reticence expected to temper political battle over federal budget

Opposition parties have laid out their own demands in the weeks leading up to the budget

A syringe is loaded with COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. to open up COVID vaccine registration to all B.C. residents 18+ in April

Registration does not equate to being able to book an appointment

(Black Press file photo).
Multiple stabbings at Vancouver Island bush party

Three youths hospitalized after an assault in Comox

Selina Robinson is shown in Coquitlam, B.C., on Friday November 17, 2017. British Columbia’s finance minister says her professional training as a family therapist helped her develop the New Democrat government’s first budget during the COVID-19 pandemic, which she will table Tuesday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. finance minister to table historic pandemic-challenged deficit budget

Budget aims to take care of people during pandemic while preparing for post-COVID-19 recovery, Robinson said

Each spring, the Okanagan Fest-of-Ale is held in Penticton. This year, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the festival will not be held. However, beer is still available. How much do you know about this beverage? (pxfuel.com)
QUIZ: How much do you really know about beer?

Put your knowledge to the test with this short quiz

Lord Tweedsmuir’s Tremmel States-Jones jumps a player and the goal line to score a touchdown against the Kelowna Owls in 2019. The face of high school football, along with a majority of other high school sports, could significantly change if a new governance proposal is passed at the B.C. School Sports AGM May 1. (Malin Jordan)
Power struggle: New governance model proposed for B.C. high school sports

Most commissions are against the new model, but B.C. School Sports (BCSS) and its board is in favour

Pall Bearers carrying the coffin of the Duke of Edinburgh, followed by the Prince of Wales, left and Princess Anne, right, into St George’s Chapel for his funeral, at Windsor Castle, in Windsor, England, Saturday April 17, 2021. (Danny Lawson/Pool via AP)
Trudeau announces $200K donation to Duke of Edinburgh award as Prince Philip laid to rest

A tribute to the late prince’s ‘remarkable life and his selfless service,’ the Prime Minister said Saturday

B.C. homeowners are being urged to take steps to prepare for the possibility of a flood by moving equipment and other assets to higher ground. (J.R. Rardon)
‘Entire province faces risk’: B.C. citizens urged to prepare for above-average spring flooding

Larger-than-normal melting snowpack poses a threat to the province as warmer weather touches down

Most Read