Breaking news: Coronavirus outbreak reported at two Utah mink fur farms

By Kitty Block and Sara Amundson

By on August 17, 2020 with 19 Comments

Mink on two fur farms in Utah have tested positive for the coronavirus. The U.S. Department of Agriculture reported today that “unusually large” numbers of animals had died at the two farms, which also reported positive cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, in people who had contact with the mink. These are the first confirmed cases of the virus in mink on fur farms in the United States and they intensify the urgency around closing down these operations, which have already emerged as hotspots for the pandemic in several countries.

A policy report we released in May recommended a ban on the trade in animals like foxes, raccoon dogs and mink who are used for fur and are common transmitters of zoonotic diseases, in order to control the spread of the coronavirus and prevent future outbreaks. We have previously reported on outbreaks on 33 mink farms in the Netherlands, three in Denmark and one in Spain. More than 1.5 million mink, mostly newborn pups, have already been gassed to death in these countries to contain the spread of the virus.

Despite these culls, experts believe the farms remain potential reservoirs for the coronavirus. After fur farm workers in the Netherlands tested positive for the virus, the Dutch government said it is “very likely” they had contracted the virus from mink. The Netherlands is now considering closing down all fur farms in the country ahead of a 2024 deadline it had previously set for ending all fur production on its soil.

We need a similar discussion—and action—here, in the United States, where fur farming is still rampant despite declining consumer interest. There are more than 200 fur farms in 17 U.S. states, that together produced three million pelts last year. Utah produced more than 700,000 of these pelts in 2018 in its approximately 55 mink fur farms. The state was the nation’s second largest producer of mink pelts that year, behind Wisconsin.

Recent HSI investigations have exposed the terrible cruelty of fur farms the world over, where animals are bred and confined in small cages, bludgeoned to death and even, sometimes, skinned alive. Awareness about these cruel practices has led to declining consumer interest in fur and has prompted a number of major fashion houses and retailers to work with us to announce fur-free policies in recent years.

More than a dozen European countries now ban fur production, and in 2019 California became the first U.S. state to ban fur sales. At least two U.S. cities, Wellesley, Massachusetts; and Minneapolis, and two states, Rhode Island and Hawaii, have introduced legislation similar to the California law. There is no question that the fur industry is in rapid decline. The pandemic adds one more obvious reason for hastening its demise, in the United States and around the world.

Sara Amundson is president of the Humane Society Legislative Fund.

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

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19 Comments

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  1. Nahrin says:

    Why are there still “Fur Farms” around to begin with? Now that these poor creatures are sick, what is going to be done about it?

  2. Alice Taylor says:

    No more fur farms. They use mink for
    False eyelashes now. Fur farms are not needed. For fur, skin or eyelashes. Wake up people

  3. Beverly says:

    How can people be so extremely cruel? If they wouldn’t want this done to them they shouldn’t do these horrible things to God’s creatures! Animals feel pain and suffer just like humans do!

  4. Gail Flanders says:

    Close these farms. Furs belong on the animals and no where else.

  5. Randolyn P Oliver says:

    What is going to happen to the sick mink? There should be no mink or any fur farms. There is one close to my house, they do not care for hem properly, so the smell is horrible and the flies. They don’t want to spend any money to clean up. I think it is disgusting. No one should be buying fur in any form.

  6. Darilynn McCoy says:

    With all the synthetic materials we have now, there is ABSOLUTELY NO excuse for having fur farms.
    Humans are so vain.

  7. Kelly says:

    STOP animal cruelty NOW! There is no good reason to keep mink farms or any animals in such conditions other than their natural habitat, living freely. Close all mink farms and transfer those precious living beings to sanctuaries now! Daily atrocious suffering of animals for what? Surface beauty? Profit? This is appalling and must end. Wake up and have compassion!

  8. Roberta McGlinn says:

    Mother nature has finally said, no more. This INSANE ongoing abuse of animals has got to end. What is it going to take for people to wake up???

  9. Diane Molino says:

    These poor helpless animals. Please just shut these fur farms down. These animals wake up every day just to endure pain and suffering. When will it end?

  10. Maureen Garney says:

    Why are there still mink fur farms? All real fur farms should be shut down now!

  11. Gary Wolf Ardito says:

    First of all, any so-called fur farms should be immediately shut down! Secondly, anyone caught with a so-called fur farm should be arrested and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. How and why are these people allowed to operate such a cruel, inhumane business. It is very disappointing, disturbing and disheartening to find out that this is allowed to continue. SHUT THEM DOWN!!!

  12. A B says:

    I agree…why are there still fur farms? Get these poor sick mink some veterinary care and put them on a safe farm where they will be properly looked after and live out their lives in peace…..not rest in peace…peaceful till old age.

  13. Gloria Burd says:

    Killing animals to make fur coats for “humans” is barbaric, and must end NOW. Fur belongs to its original owners. Let them be.

  14. Gaetane Gonzales says:

    Unbelievable that there are still fur farms around! It should be outlawed and the animals released or put in a wildlife sanctuary! We do not need mink coats, eyelashes or anything else from these adorable animals!

  15. Josephine Palladino says:

    Who are the bad people buying mink eyelashes and coats. they should see what they are doing to these deserving animals. STOP the cruelty

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