(We Animals/BC SPCA)

(We Animals/BC SPCA)

BC SPCA slams proposed changes to mink farm standards after 2 COVID outbreaks

Changes allow use of carbon monoxide to kill mink

The BC SPCA has slammed proposed welfare changes for minks that it said would worsen conditions for the animals on Canadian farms.

Mink farming has become a high-profile industry in recent months as two farms in the province declared COVID-19 outbreaks.

At the first farm, located in the Fraser Valley, an outbreak was declared on Dec. 6 after several workers and animals tested positive and about 200 minks died over a five-day period. On the second farm, at least 23 animals died between Dec. 19 and 23, although no workers tested positive for the virus.

READ MORE: COVID-19 has made its way to second B.C. mink farm, no workers sick

In a Tuesday (Jan. 26) news release, the BC SPCA said that changes proposed to the Code of Practice for Mink last month would remove a requirement for larger cages by 2023 and “allow the use of killing methods that cause mink distress before they die.”

“At a time when we know that distance helps reduce disease transmission, fur farms in Canada want to keep wild mink, who normally have a home range of several kilometres, in tightly packed cages as small as two pieces of paper,” said BC SPCA spokesperson Geoff Urton.

The proposed code changes would allow carbon dioxide to be used as a backup method for the killing of mink, according to the Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Farmed Mink. The code states that a four per cent or greater concentration of carbon monoxide causes “rapid loss of consciousness followed by death and is the preferred method of euthanasia for mink.”

According to the code, the standard for euthanasia is that it “must induce rapid loss of consciousness followed immediately by death and cause minimal distress and pain.”

READ MORE: BC SPCA calls for moratorium after minks, workers at farm contract COVID

Editor’s note: In an earlier version of this story, carbon monoxide was identified as a new method of killing mink at fur farms. Carbon monoxide is already used, carbon dioxide is being suggested as a backup method.


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