Breaking news: Mink on Wisconsin fur farm test positive for coronavirus, but U.S. inaction continues

By Kitty Block and Sara Amundson

By on October 8, 2020 with 8 Comments

Mink have tested positive for the coronavirus on a fur farm in Wisconsin, the largest fur producing U.S. state. The news broke today even as media reports confirmed thousands of mink have died of the disease on fur farms in Utah, the first state to report such infections on mink farms in August.

The outbreak in Taylor County, Wisconsin, was confirmed today by the National Veterinary Services Laboratories. The farm is now under quarantine and is working with local, state and federal authorities to investigate the outbreak and assist with carcass disposal and cleaning, according to reports.

European countries like the Netherlands, Spain and Denmark have also reported coronavirus outbreaks on mink fur farms since the pandemic began. But while they’ve taken swift steps to prevent future outbreaks—the Netherlands, where 64 fur farms have now reported outbreaks, advanced its deadline to end mink fur farming by three years—the United States has failed to act proactively since the Utah outbreak, other than to offer vague guidance for fur farms. This despite the fact that 7,000 to 8,000 mink have died on Utah fur farms.

Israel prepares to ban the fur trade; first country to do so

Such inaction by a nation with the world’s largest reported coronavirus case count among humans is indefensible. And the disregard for the animal suffering involved is unforgiveable. Fur farms are miserable places for wild animals like mink. The animals are typically held captive in small cages with no enrichment, and their most basic needs are often denied. Our investigations have shown animals on fur farms being bludgeoned to death and even being skinned alive.

Now, with the coronavirus outbreak killing the animals by the thousands, the suffering has only intensified.

The go to solution to the outbreak overseas has been to cull mink by the millions, often by gassing. But the only way to end the dual problems of pandemic outbreaks on fur farms and the animal suffering inherent in fur farming is to close down this industry for good.

The infections in Wisconsin and Utah—our two biggest fur-producing states—should serve as a wake-up call for our government. Industry figures say there are 245 fur farms in 22 U.S. states. Given the high rate of infections on mink fur farms around the world, it would not be a stretch to say that any and all of these could face a potential outbreak.

Netherlands will close all mink fur farms by next year

According to news reports this week, the Fur Commission USA said fur from the dead infected animals in Utah would be processed to remove any traces of the virus and then used for coats and other garments. Such callousness is not entirely surprising from an industry group that is fighting to hold on to a dying business built on animal cruelty. Fur has no future, as we’ve demonstrated time and again in recent years. Major fashion houses and retailers are no longer using it or selling it, and fashion icons have turned away from it. Consumers are increasingly seeking out alternatives, and sales of fur in the United States have been crashing year after year.

In our recently released policy plan for preventing future pandemics, we called for 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. We also called on apparel companies, governments and other entities to take steps to eliminate both the fur farm industry and demand for animal fur. Following the outbreak in Wisconsin, we are reminding the U.S. government—and governments around the world—that the sooner this industry shuts down, the better off, and safer, we will all be.

Sara Amundson is president of the Humane Society Legislative Fund.

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

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  1. Alan Alejandro Maldonado Ortiz says:

    Esto tiene que acabar, ya no podemos permitir que mas animalitos sigan sufriendo y nada más por beneficios de las empresas

  2. Jamie Assaiante says:

    Shut them down nationwide and worldwide. God, why? Why does anyone need to wear fur? Lots of pain and inhumanity.

  3. Deborah Ditch says:

    This act is barbaric and no longer needed. Instead, these farms should do the total opposite and save theses poor animals. Help bring back endangered species of all kinds. I’m sure they have plenty of room to do so.

  4. Erin says:

    Is there a legislative petition I can sign and return to you, about banning mink fur?

  5. Patty Ramirez says:

    This is animal cruelty STOP IT

  6. Mary W says:

    I would never buy a fur, however, I don’t live in Alaska and need the protection that only fur provides. When an animal is hunted for meat, their fur is used in making clothing to protect them from the cold and the meat used for nutrition. How can I correctly change my mindset of the cruelty of animals inhumanely raised to use just a portion of their body accommodate to reflect when an animal is hunted for sustenance and all parts used for human life? There has to be a middle ground for exceptions and limitations. I don’t know for sure, but assume the limits put on sustenance living hunting licenses do address this.

  7. Nancy Zimerowski says:

    I just read on CNN that ONE MILLION mink in Denmark will be killed to stop the large outbreak of Covid-19 in that country. ONE MILLION! I can’t think of a better reason for Denmark to stop the farming of mink for fur right now. If you stop farming mink, then maybe you wouldn’t have to slaughter another million animals in the case of another covid outbreak. This needs to stop.

  8. John Guislin says:

    No one in the developed world needs to wear fur, and these are the target customers of fur farmers. If we are too blind to see zoonotic disease expansion as a clear warning, then we are willfully blind and in peril.
    Fur farmers will need help to transition to new jobs, much like coal miners as we transition to cleaner fuels. I will support substantial aid to these groups only when we shut down these life-threatening industries.

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