The Union of BC Indian Chiefs (UBCIC) is the latest group to speak out against mink farming in the province.
It joins the BC SPCA and other advocates calling for a moratorium on B.C. industrial mink ranches to end the farming of wild animals for luxury products.
Mink farming has been making headlines since December 2020 when COVID-19 made its way to two farms in the Fraser Valley, including one in Chilliwack, over the course of a few weeks. During that month, more than 200 mink died at the Chilliwack location and at least 23 at the second Fraser Valley farm. An additional 1,000 were euthanized as a precaution.
“UBCIC supports the ethical harvesting of fur for cultural and ceremonial purposes, and for purposes that align with Indigenous ways and respect values of conservation and stewardship,” said Grand Chief Stewart Philip, UBCIC president. “However, UBCIC does not condone the industrial breeding, confinement and slaughtering of minks for international luxury markets especially as, notwithstanding the current public health risks, mink farms have long been implicated in cruel and inhumane fur farming practices that have led to unacceptable animal welfare outcomes.”
Just two days after the Dec. 6, 2020 COVID-19 outbreak that was declared at the first mink ranch, Pamela Anderson penned a letter to B.C. Premier John Horgan asking him close down fur farms in British Columbia.
Later that same month, the BC SPCA called for a moratorium through an immediate suspension of all mink farm licenses.
“For the BC SPCA there are two issues,” said Geoff Urton, spokesperson for the BC SPCA. “The first is the ongoing suffering caused by keeping wild animals in tiny wire cages. The second is the continued risk to people and animals in our communities amid a pandemic.”
In January, several prominent environmentalists and experts, including David Suzuki, spoke out against mink farms in a letter to two B.C. ministers.
There are 13 mink ranches in B.C., almost all of which are in the Fraser Valley.
“With many countries having banned fur farming altogether, and with COVID-19 leading countries like the Netherlands and France to accelerate their phasing out of mink farms, the time is now for the province to follow suit and issue a moratorium on mink farming, including immediately suspending breeding programs at all 13 mink farms in B.C.,” said Chief Don Tom, UBCIC vice president.
In 2018, more than 260,000 mink were killed for fur in B.C., despite 85 per cent of British Columbians opposing such a practice, Tom added.
“UBCIC calls upon the province to consider the long-term viability and impacts of industrial fur farming.”