24 June 2020 – Global animal welfare organisation FOUR PAWS applauds the Members of the lower house of the Dutch Parliament for voting for the earlier shutdown of the remaining mink farms in the Netherlands on 23 June. The decision in favour of phasing out the fur farming practice by closing down the estimated 128 mink farms in the country sooner than the initial date of 2023, follows the news of a COVID-19 outbreak on multiple farms in April as well as the recent mass culling of 500,000 potentially affected minks. The Dutch government is now under pressure to shut down fur farming operations by the end of this year. The Parliament also voted for a motion that makes it illegal to farm animals that are susceptible for the Coronavirus. FOUR PAWS calls for a global ban on all fur farming practices for the sake of animal welfare and public health.
Over the past few weeks, the coronavirus broke out in 17 Dutch mink farms and hundreds of thousands of minks were killed prematurely. After the Dutch Ministry of Agriculture confirmed the discovery of COVID-19 in mink when symptoms such as respiratory problems and increased mortality were observed in the animals, the virus was also found in mink farm workers. According to the responsible authorities, animal-human transmission was extremely likely in these cases.
“We welcome the clear vote of the Parliament and call on the Dutch government to take the right decision now: End fur farming by end of the year and save millions of animals from a horrible life and death. We know now that mink fur farms can act as potential reservoirs for COVID-19 and other novel infectious zoonotic diseases. This is not a problem only affecting the Netherlands, but all countries that have not yet ended their practices of fur farming. It’s about time this cruel practice is banned globally, not only from an animal welfare perspective, but also in favour of public health,”
says Thomas Pietsch, Wildlife Expert at FOUR PAWS.
Fur farms threaten human and animal health
Mink fur farming was banned in the Netherlands in 2013 with an original deadline for complete phase out by 2024. In 2018, the country farmed around 4.5 million minks. Fur farming has been banned across the UK since 2003, and has been prohibited or is in the process of being phased-out in multiple European countries like Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Norway, Luxembourg, Slovakia and Slovenia. However, the cruel practice continues in other countries, with China, Denmark, Finland and Poland being the biggest producers, and globally an estimated 100 million animals are killed annually for their fur. Especially in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, fur farms along with wildlife markets are under even greater scrutiny for posing a potential risk for human and animal health.