1600 mink culled due to COVID outbreak on Italian fur farm, despite ban


1600 mink culled due to COVID outbreak on Italian fur farm, despite ban

13 May 2023

Following a delay in implementing the Italian ban on fur farms, 1600 mink have been culled due a new SARS-CoV-2 outbreak. The farming of animals for the production of fur has been prohibited since 1 January 2022 in Italy, however there are still thousands of mink housed on five farms.

In April, after confirming the presence of the SARS-CoV-2 virus on a mink farm in Calvagese della Riviera, the culling of all 1600 minks began. This was the fourth COVID-19 outbreak in an Italian farm.

The mink housed on this farm had been awaiting transfer to shelter facilities since the implementation of the fur farming ban. Our member LAV launched a new appeal to Minister Lollobrigida denouncing the enormous delay in defining the procedures for the transfer.

Continuing to keep thousands of mink housed in intensive systems poses serious risk to the health not only of the animals, but also of humans, given that they can transmit, mutate and serve as intermediate hosts of SARS-CoV-2

At the same time as the WHO announced that COVID-19 is no longer a global health emergency, the outbreak in Calvagese della Riviera was detected, acting as a reminder that swift action should be taken in order to avoid future pandemics.

In addition to the animal welfare problems inherent to fur farming, several questions regarding the public health risks have been tabled to the European Commission, whose answer has been that a EU-wide ban on fur farming would be a disproportionate and unjustifiable measure. 

The European Citizens’ Initiative Fur Free Europe gathered 1,701,892 signatures from across the European Union, and continues to call on the European Commission to ban fur farming on ethical, public health and environmental grounds.

Recently, the MEPs Working Group for the European Citizens’ Initiative tabled another question on the threat to public health posed by fur farms. In its reply, the Commission stated that in terms of both SARS-CoV-2 and HPAI in mink farms, Member States assess local health risks and take measures according to the epidemiological circumstances and in line with the SARS CoV-2 risk assessments carried out by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) as well as the EFSA/ECDC/EU Reference Laboratories joint assessment on the HPAI situation that is regularly published”.