On December 6, 2020, much of Canada learned that the country has a fur farm industry. The Fraser Health Authority announced a COVID-19 outbreak on a British Columbia mink farm. 8 people linked to the farm tested positive for COVID-19. 5 days later, it was discovered that mink had become infected with the coronavirus. Out of the 15,000 mink on the farm, 200 had already died.
There were shocked reactions on social media from people across the country. Not so much to the news that there was an outbreak. They were shocked to find out that fur farming even exists within our borders. This should come at no surprise – this is an industry that the government doesn’t tend to champion like it does for other animal-use sectors. Fur farming is kept quiet. It operates in secrecy. You won’t find any photo-ops from politicians on fur farms.
This is an industry that has been operating inconspicuously in our backyards, breeding and confining millions of wild animals in small, filthy cages, only to skin them and sell their fur for luxury fashion products.
It’s time to change that.
Canada’s fur farm industry
Accurate numbers for Canada’s fur farm industry are elusive. At the time of writing, with only a few weeks until 2021, Statistics Canada still hasn’t released their data for fur farms for the year 2019. Even relying on this data is problematic, as there are discrepancies between federal figures, provincial figures, and the fur farming industry itself. For example, Statistics Canada data shows that there were only 6 mink farms in British Columbia in 2018. In a November 2020 article that featured statements from the BC government, the Vancouver Sun reported that there are currently 14 mink farms in British Columbia. For an industry in significant decline, it’s difficult to believe that 8 new mink farms were established in 2019-2020.
In Prince Edward Island, Statistics Canada reports that there were 4 mink farms in 2018. A December 2020 article from the CBC writes that the P.E.I. Department of Agriculture has been reaching out to the province’s mink farmers to warn of the risks of coronavirus transmission between humans and animals; the government is quoted as saying there are “fewer than five mink farms” in PEI. The article notes that the government has been sending warnings to one particular mink farmer, but he said he’s been retired since 2018. Another farmer says that his farm is the last remaining farm in the province. Alan Herscovici, a national spokesman for the mink industry said he wouldn’t be surprised if the last one had decided to shut down. So how many are there?
Canada’s industrial fur farms often contain tens of thousands of animals. The fact that the government doesn’t even know how many farms exist is cause for concern.
How many fur farms are there in Canada?
According to Statistics Canada data, there were 98 fox farms and 27 mink farms in 2018. A total of 1,786,600 foxes and mink were bred into Canadian fur farms that year. Nova Scotia, Ontario, and British Columbia produce the most pelts. It’s difficult to know what the current state of the industry is due to the lack of public data and unreliability of the official figures themselves, but suffice it to say, the mere existence of this industry is itself problematic. A single fur farm is one too many.
Canadian attitudes towards fur farming
There has been much scrutiny into Canada’s fur farming industry in the past. Investigations into this industry can be viewed here: National Observer, Last Chance For Animals, We Animals, CTV, #MakeFurHistory. As this industry has been thoroughly examined, we will not go into detail into how unnecessary and unethical this practice is. Mass breeding millions of wild animals, caging them, and skinning them for their fur is wrong, full stop. It’s an inherently cruel form of animal agriculture that the majority of Canadians are rightfully opposed to. This is an industry that strikes a nerve with people, regardless of their political views, dietary preferences, or their involvement in animal advocacy. People across the country want fur farming banned.
End fur farming in Canada. 4 actions.
As the coronavirus pandemic shines a light on fur farming in Europe, the US, and now Canada, the Canadian government and the fur farming industry will hope that people will forget about this issue and move on. Don’t let that happen. Ensure there is sustained pressure on legislators so that they act and finally end fur farming in Canada.
1. Sign the petition to end fur farming in Canada
A federal petition has been launched calling for the end of fur farming in Canada. If this petition receives more than 500 signatures, it will be presented to the House of Commons and the government will table a response. Sign are share petition e-3096.
2. Contact your elected representative
Write to your provincial MLA/MPP and federal MP and explain what this issue means for you. Tell them you want to see fur farming banned in Canada and ask what steps they’ll take to make that happen. Look up your MP’s contact information here. Give them some time, but if they don’t respond, follow up. Don’t take no for an answer. Nothing short of a federal, permanent ban for all fur farming is acceptable. It’s the 21st century. This practice belongs in the past.
For quick ways to reach your elected representatives, the Fur-Bearers, Humane Society International-Canada, and Animal Justice have created letter templates that will be sent to your representatives. Click the following links to access them: Fur-Bearers (BC), (Canada); HSI (Canada); Animal Justice (Canada).
3. Tell the National Farm Animal Care Council you don’t want bigger cages. You want the end of cages.
The National Farm Animal Care Council (NFACC) sets the national guidelines for how the industry should “care for” animals. These guidelines can be found in the farmed mink Codes of Practice and the farmed fox Codes of Practice. These codes of practice do not protect animals; they are industry-driven standards that are designed so that the industry can extract as much value as possible from the confinement of animals. This industry has gotten away with state-sanctioned, industry-approved cruelty towards tens of millions of animals for decades. Examples of how horrific these guidelines are:
- Killing foxes for their fur is done via anal electrocution (Link)
- Killing mink for their fur is done via gas chambers filled with C02 (Link)
- The approved size of a wire-floor cage for a fox is 91cms X 91cms (Link)
- The approved size of a wire-floor cage for a mink is 20cms X 38cms (Link)
NFACC is currently working on amendments to the farmed mink code of practice. They are asking for the public’s input on changes to sections regarding housing, feed & water, husbandry, and euthanasia. Make it clear to them that no size of cage, no amount of care, no change to housing requirements will ever be sufficient to justify the breeding and caging of animals so that they can be killed for fur. This industry’s days are over.
Let NFACC know what you think about fur farming in Canada. Their public comment submission period for farmed mink is open until February 2021. The link to submit comments is in the red box on this page, the direct link to the survey is here.
4. Spread the message
Share information about Canadian fur farms on social media. Circulate the letter templates and petition linked to above. Become involved with fur-free campaigns and mobilize others to take action. No one wants this industry in Canada. This industry has been in decline for years. It receives millions of public dollars to keep it afloat. It’s a risk to public health and the environment. It’s one of the most cruel forms of animal agriculture in Canada.
Now is the time to end fur farming in Canada, but it won’t happen unless the government hears your voice. Be persistent and be loud.
We thank We Animals for providing the images featured on this page. (Header image: Mink cages at a fur farm in Quebec. Jo-Anne McArthur / #MakeFurHistory)