Veterinary Ireland recommends an immediate ban on the farming of mink, and other wild animals, for the production of fur

The American Mink
Ciaran Moran

Ciaran Moran

Veterinary Ireland has recommended an immediate ban on the farming of mink, and other wild animals, for the production of fur.

In a statement it said scientific evidence has been growing for many years indicating that the behavioural needs of mink and other wild animals, that are being farmed for their fur, are not being provided for by current methods of farming.

It said this failure to allow these animals to express normal behaviour is in direct contravention of the European Council Directives, which states that: "No animal shall be kept for farming purposes unless it can be reasonably expected, on the basis of its genotype or phenotype, that it can be kept without detrimental effect on its health or welfare."

'WelFur' is the European animal welfare scheme which has been developed in recent years to improve standards of welfare on European fur farms.

It is supported by Fur Europe, the organisation representing fur farmers in Europe.

Having reviewed the available evidence, Veterinary Ireland said it concluded that the WelFur programme cannot prevent the welfare problems regularly encountered on fur farms, such as stereotypies and serious injuries.

It has additionally concluded, given the nature of the animals concerned and the environment in which they are held, that there are simply no welfare standards or inspection regime that would prevent such problems arising on a regular basis.

"It is further clear that fur farms cannot provide for the five freedoms (or welfare needs) of mink, particularly in relation to the need to be able to express most normal behaviours," it said.

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Veterinary Ireland said it would seem that fur farms fail on all except the provision of appropriate nutrition.

"Farmed mink do not live in an environment that provides choice, appropriate shelter or a species appropriate comfortable resting area.

"The conditions experienced by farmed mink do not promote an environment that enhances fitness, but rather serves to protect the value of the animals’ fur.

"Further, given the barren battery cages that farmed mink are confined to, there is little opportunity to provide any meaningful environmental enrichment.

"The behavioural restrictions inflicted on farmed mink can only lead to negative experiences (e.g. pain, fear, frustration) and therefore fail to maximise positive experiences," the organisation said.

A review of all aspects of fur farming in Ireland was commissioned in November 2011.

The Group concluded that it did not find the arguments in favour of banning the farming of fur animals in Ireland compelling and recommended that instead, fur farming be allowed continue under licence and subject to official control.

Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed said recently he accepted the findings of the review group and its recommendations.

On foot of the Review Group’s deliberations, he said his Department introduced more rigorous controls on licence holders in the areas of animal welfare, animal accommodation, security and nutrient management.

The Minister said given the recommendations from the review group, there are no plans to introduce a ban on fur farming.

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