Danger tape blocks off driveways at a mink farm in Chilliwack on Dec. 7, 2020 after an outbreak was declared. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)

Danger tape blocks off driveways at a mink farm in Chilliwack on Dec. 7, 2020 after an outbreak was declared. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)

COVID-19 outbreak declared at Chilliwack mink ranch

News spurs renewed call from animal rights groups to end the fur trade

The Chilliwack Progress has learned that the COVID-19 outbreak identified by Fraser Health at a mink ranch in the Fraser Valley is in Chilliwack.

Eight people at the farm have tested positive, according to a Dec. 6 news release from Fraser Health. The health authority is now screening employees and conducting case management and contact tracing.

Animal rights activists responded by calling for an end to the fur trade altogether.

A spokesperson for Toronto-based World Animal Protection called the outbreak a wake-up call for Canada to end the farming and trade of wild animals for luxury products.

“Although the mink are still being tested for the virus here, COVID-19 has spread like wildfire on mink farms in Europe and several states in the U.S.,” Melissa Matlow said via email. “A number of countries have banned fur farming and COVID-19 has led the Netherlands to accelerate their phase-out of the industry. World Animal Protection is strongly encouraging Canada to follow their lead.”

Virginia-based People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) similarly used the outbreak as a renewed call to end the fur trade.

“Minks were among the animals infected during the SARS outbreak in 2003, and they are known to carry a variety of pathogens and diseases that can be passed on to humans, including hepatitis E and influenza,” said Paula Moore on behalf of The PETA Foundation.

“In addition to being a public health issue, this is also a moral one. Many animals on fur farms slowly go insane and even self-mutilate from the stress of intensive confinement before they are violently killed.”

READ MORE: COVID-19 outbreak declared at Fraser Valley mink farm

Denmark recently culled 17 million minks in response to COVID-19 outbreaks at more than 200 farms in the country. A concern raised by health scientists is that the ferret-like animals can contract COVID-19 and the virus can mutate, and pass it back to humans.

Fraser Health said that as with all individuals who test positive or are close contacts with those who test positive for COVID-19, the farm operators and staff are self-isolating.

“The site has been inspected by Fraser Health and WorkSafeBC and we continue to work with the site on their COVID-19 mitigation strategies.”

The farm has been ordered to restrict all transport of animals, products and goods from the location, under the BC Animal Health Act. The minks’ welfare is being supported by the Ministry of Agriculture, and enhanced measures are being put in place to keeps the farm owner and creatures safe.

On Monday, both driveways to the Chilliwack farm were taped off. The Progress is not identifying the location.

COVID-19 can be naturally acquired by a small number of animals, including domestic cats, lions and tigers, dogs and minks, according to the BC Centre for Disease Control, and clinical illness can result in cats and farmed mink.

All employers in B.C., including mink farms, are required to implement COVID-19 safety plans, Fraser Health said. This includes requirements to assess any risks to workers, and plans to prevent the transmission of COVID-19 in the workplace.

The outbreak is being addressed through a partnership of BC Ministry of Agriculture, BC Ministry of Health, WorkSafeBC and BC Centre for Disease Control to support the health of farm operators and staff.

WorkSafeBC’s Consultation & Education Services team is now reaching out directly to other mink farms across the province to discuss requirements.

The Progress did try to connect with the mink ranch via email for a comment but did not get a response.

– with files from Patrick Penner


Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email:
editor@theprogress.com

@TheProgress
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Mission

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

B.C. overdose deaths still rising five years after public health emergency declared

Moms Stop the Harm calls on B.C. to provide safe supply in response to deadly illicit drug use

Abbotsford’s Ying Chun Chen recently won a $1-million prize with Lotto 6/49. (Submitted)
Abbotsford’s Ying Chun Chen recently won the $1-million prize in a Lotto 6/49 draw. (Submitted)
Abbotsford’s Ying Chun Chen wins Lotto 6/49 $1-million prize

Ticket was purchased at Abbotsford’s FreshCo for the March 6, 2021 draw

Todd Richard recently released “Green and Blue,” a heartfelt country ballad thanking the frontline workers battling against the pandemic. (Screenshot/ Todd Richard)
Harrison country artist Todd Richard releases ‘Green and Blue,’ a tribute to frontline workers

Richard’s new single has been viewed more than 3,000 times on his YouTube channel

Kao Macaulay has been charged in relation to a home break-in on March 30 in Abbotsford in which five kittens were stolen. (Facebook photo)
Former Chilliwack man charged with theft of 5 newborn kittens in Abbotsford

Prolific offender Kao Macaulay, 23, accused of breaking into home on March 30

The City of Chilliwack website now has a panel full of customization options for people with disabilities, including an ADHD Friendly Profile. (chilliwack.com)
VIDEO: City of Chilliwack website offers new options for people with disabilities

The website now has a panel allowing users to adjust just about everything to suit individual needs

Restaurant patrons enjoy the weather on a patio in Vancouver, B.C., Monday, April 5, 2021. The province has restricted indoor dining at all restaurants in B.C. due to a spike in COVID-19 numbers. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C.’s COVID-19 indoor dining, drinking ban extending into May

Restaurant association says patio rules to be clarified

Titanic was the largest and most luxurious ship in the world. Photo provided and colourized by Jiri Ferdinand.
QUIZ: How much do you know about the world’s most famous shipwreck?

Titanic sank 109 years ago today, after hitting an iceberg

In a 2019 photograph, Yin Yin Din held a picture of her brother Kyaw Naing Din, 54, and her late father Hla Din who passed away in 2014, during a trip to Victoria. (The News files)
Family of B.C. man killed by cop appeals to Attorney General for help

The Din family want B.C. Attorney General David Eby to forward their case to Crown

B.C. Premier John Horgan speaks at the B.C. legislature. (B.C. government)
Tougher COVID-19 restrictions in B.C., including travel, still ‘on the table’: Horgan

John Horgan says travel restrictions will be discussed Wednesday by the provincial cabinet

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Protesters occupied a road leading to Fairy Creek Watershed near Port Renfrew. (Submitted photo)
B.C. First Nation says logging activist interference not welcome at Fairy Creek

Vancouver Island’s Pacheedaht concerned about increasing polarization over forestry activities

Flow Academy is not accepting membership applications from anybody who has received a dose of the vaccine, according to a password-protected membership application form. (Submitted image)
B.C. martial arts gym refusing patrons who have been vaccinated, wear masks

Interior Health has already issued a ticket to Flow Academy for non-compliance with public health orders

Maple Ridge's Doug Ubell caught some photographs recently that he was anxious to share, one taken while on the Trans-Canada Trail looking southwest towards the Pitt River Bridge, and another from on Golden Ears Bridge. (Special to The News)
Traffic on Golden Ears Bridge returning to pre-pandemic levels

Commuters from Greater Vancouver still driving more, taking transit less

Sheila Malcolmson, B.C.’s minister of mental health and addictions (Screen shot)
Minister of mental health tells Surrey audience COVID-19 ‘has made everything worse’

More than 23,000 people in B.C. are receiving medication to treat opioid addiction

Most Read