Dutch fur farms have killed 575,000 mink, mostly pups, following coronavirus outbreak

By on June 11, 2020 with 7 Comments

Update (6/12/2020): Dutch authorities have confirmed they have killed 575,000 mink, including 480,000 pups, during the cull on 13 fur factory farms. The killing will conclude tomorrow.

The Netherlands is expected to kill more than 350,000 mink by gassing, in a massive cull following an outbreak of coronavirus on fur farms in the country. It is estimated that most of these—about 300,000—are pups just days or weeks old.

The killing of animals on fur farms is heartbreaking under any circumstances, because of how utterly needless and preventable it is. But this tragic cull, and the scale of it, is a stark reminder of the many problems that surround fur factory farming, impacting both animal welfare and human health, and why all production of this unnecessary commodity needs to end immediately.

The problem came to light in April, when two fur farm workers in the Netherlands were found to have contracted the coronavirus from mink, which is the only known animal-to-human transmission following the initial outbreak. In following weeks, 13 of the Netherlands’ roughly 130 fur farms reported mink infected with the virus. And the number of infected farms keeps on growing. The farms said more mink were dying than usual, and some had nasal discharge or difficulty breathing.

This month, the government ordered all mink on infected Dutch fur farms be killed to prevent the further spread of the coronavirus to humans. The cull, which began last week, has farm workers in protective clothing using gas to kill mink mothers and their pups. The animals’ bodies are then transported to a disposal center in a sealed shipping container and the farms disinfected.

It is now clear that these fur farms, where animals are crowded in close contact with each other, are reservoirs for the spread of pandemics. Organizations like ours have been sounding the alarm bell over fur farms—and the high risk for disease they pose—for years, and as tragic as this development is, it is not surprising to us.

Fur farms also pose an extraordinary animal welfare problem. Much like factory farms and wildlife markets, the animals in these operations live short, miserable lives in small, barren and filthy cages, usually without any veterinary care. A Humane Society International investigation of Finland’s fur farms last year showed many animals had eye infections and gaping wounds, including a mink with a large, bloody hole in the head. Some animals lay dead in the cages and others ate them or walked over them.

Such fur farms exist around the globe, including in the United States, where the top 10 states for mink pelt production (in order of most to least) are Wisconsin, Utah, Idaho, Oregon, Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Washington. As part of our 11-point policy plan to reduce animal suffering and help prevent future national and global pandemics, the Humane Society family of organizations is calling for an end to all fur farming everywhere it exists around the world.

We have already made tremendous progress in fighting fur, with dozens of fashion designers and retailers turning away from this cruel product in recent years. In the United States, California has banned the production of fur and all sales of new fur products. Globally, Britain became the first country in the world to ban fur production, and it has been followed by a dozen European countries, including Austria, the Czech Republic and Norway.

The Netherlands, once the third largest fur farming country in the world, banned fur production in 2013 with an 11-year phaseout. But the tragedy now playing out in the country is an opportunity for the government there, and for governments in all fur-producing nations, to take note of the serious public health and animal welfare problems associated with fur farms and close them down without delay. With the pandemic still ravaging the globe, it simply doesn’t make sense for anyone to reinvest in an enterprise that’s fallen out of fashion and favor the world over.

Categories
Humane Society International, Public Policy (Legal/Legislative), Wildlife/Marine Mammals

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7 Comments

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  1. Alan Alejandro Maldonado Ortiz says:

    Esto no es posible ya no podemos permitir que estas cosas sigan pasando no es justo que siga sacrificando animalitos sólo por lucir una moda y por beneficio económico de una empresa

  2. DM says:

    HUMANS: the most dangerous predators on earth! This condemnation can’t be repeated enough!

    The level of horrifying brutality that is legal just so humans can PROFIT, is the result of governments that keep the brutality legal. While animal skin as clothing may have started out of need, it continues out of greed and selfishness. In today’s society, fur is worn and used strictly for vanity.

    “In fact, if one person is unkind to an animal it is considered to be cruelty, but where a lot of people are unkind to animals, especially in the name of commerce, the cruelty is condoned and, once large sums of money are at stake, will be defended to the last by otherwise intelligent people.”–Ruth Harrison, Animal Machines

  3. Mary says:

    This is so horrible and sad. The poor little creatures, innocents, being slaughtered, really murdered, in such numbers. And that they are breed on farms. Yuck. Shame on those who engage in this monsterous behavior. Goodbye Holland. I will not be visiting soon, 0r purchasing any products from this you while you permit people to engage in such backwards, reprehensible, immoral conduct.

  4. DM says:

    HUMANS: the most dangerous predators on earth! We are the originals weapons of mass destruction. These condemnations can’t be repeated enough!

    The level of horrifying brutality that is legal just so humans can PROFIT, is the result of governments that keep the brutality legal. While animal skin as clothing may have started out of need, it continues out of greed and selfishness. In today’s society, fur is worn and used strictly for vanity.

    “In fact, if one person is unkind to an animal it is considered to be cruelty, but where a lot of people are unkind to animals, especially in the name of commerce, the cruelty is condoned and, once large sums of money are at stake, will be defended to the last by otherwise intelligent people.”–Ruth Harrison, Animal Machines

  5. Mary says:

    How horrific to kill thousands of minks, including babies, just heartbreaking. Were preventative measures taken and what were the conditions of the caged minks?? This cull warrants an in depth investigation as to why special measures weren’t taken to prevent this horrible necessity! Why are CIVILIZED PEOPLE wearing fur anyway???

  6. Greenwich, CT says:

    Any woman who wears fur is disgusting. I don’t care if your great, great grandmother handed down a fur coat to you; it should never be worn.

    Women who wear fur are murderers.

    My town is filled with deplorable women like this. Most are deeply insecure women and think the fur coat will somehow elevate them with other deplorables.

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