Coronavirus is killing the Dutch mink industry - National Geographic

Coronavirus is killing the Dutch mink industry - National Geographic


Coronavirus is killing the Dutch mink industry - National Geographic

Posted: 24 Jun 2020 04:33 PM PDT

One of the world's top mink-producing countries is shutting down the industry as a result of COVID-19. Two findings—rising rates of infection among mink at Dutch fur farms and the discovery that the animals may have transmitted the virus to two farm employees—have forced the Netherlands to speed up existing plans for ending its mink industry in 2024. On Tuesday, parliament voted to cease mink breeding imminently and provide compensation to fur farmers.The timeline for the updated closure has not been determined, nor has the rate of compensation due to producers, but animal welfare groups expect the shutdown will occur by the end of the year. Culling has already begun. Since June 5, nearly 600,000 of the 800,000 mink in the Netherlands have been killed—suffocated by carbon monoxide gas—to help control the spread of the virus, according to Fur Europe, a Brussels-based industry group that represents fur farmers and manufacturers.The Netherlands is the fourth largest producer of mink pelts after China, Denmark, and Poland, according to Humane Society International. In 2013, in response to animal welfare concerns, the government voted to shut down more than a hundred farms that support the country's $100 million mink fur industry but farmers were given until January 1, 2024 to cease operations.Fur farm animals are typically raised in small wire cages, often with thousands of animals stacked together. Environmental and animal welfare groups have long decried what they see as an inhumane industry. Many others object to fur on moral and ethical grounds, arguing that it's a luxury, not a necessity, for most people.Since 2000, at least eight European countries have banned fur farming. Now, worries about public health have given critics a new reason to oppose the industry."It is a huge breakthrough. The killing of animals for their fur in the Netherlands is finally coming to an end," Dutch lawmaker Esther Ouwehand said in a statement about parliament's vote. "Besides being morally reprehensible, mink farming is now simply untenable because it poses a threat to public health."

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