According to AP news, Denmark has plans to cull its 15 million mink on all its mink farms, with promises to compensate farmers. Producing 40% of mink for the world, a large number of mink farms in Denmark are or have been infected with the virus causing COVID-19 infection in people, and there are reports that the virus may have mutated in or around the farms, causing even more concern.
Here in the US, mink farms are largely regulated by state law and according to the Fur Commission USA, a national, non-profit association representing U.S. mink farmers, “most of the mink farms in operation today in the U.S. are third and fourth generation family farms.”
While some animal rights organizations are salivating over what they perceive as the potential to shutter mink farms forever, mink farmers have been committed to providing “the highest quality care for their livestock.’
“Mink ranchers recognize that they have a responsibility to preserve and protect the land on which they work . . . The Fur Commission USA works in conjunction with other animal welfare groups to ensure that the latest and most up-to-date research on animal health and welfare is available to mink ranchers in a timely fashion.
Minks on farms in Utah, Wisconsin and Michigan have been infected with SARS-CoV-2, as reported by Greg Cima, AVMA, with at least 8,000 deaths reported in Utah alone. According to Utah State Veterinarian Dr. Dean Taylor,
“Death rates varied widely by farm, depending on the ages of the animals, Dr. Taylor said. The infections have been killing more than 40% of breeding flocks, yet the death rates remain low for younger minks, he said.
Infected farms have been quarantined, but so far, there are no reported mink depopulation plans.
Hopefully, effective vaccines for mink will be developed as they are being developed for people.