End Vicious Mink Fur Farms

Speak up to outright ban this cruel and unnecessary industry.

OAA PROGRAM AREA: Humane Education

ACTION LEVEL: Federal

(Photo by Mads Claus Rasmussen/Ritzau Scanpix/AFP/Getty Images)

The Mink: Vectors for Infection Risk in the United States Act (Mink VIRUS Act, H.R. 3783), introduced by Representative Adriano Espaillat (D-NY), would phase out mink farming in the US over one year and establish a grant program to reimburse mink farmers for the full value of their farm so that they’re able to transition to another industry. This new bill seeks to address the public health and animal welfare crisis created by farming mink for their fur.

Every year at U.S. fur farms, more than a million mink are killed—typically by gassing to avoid damage to their pelts— for no purpose other than to provide trim on coats and poms on hats, purses or gloves. They suffer immensely on these factory farms, where they typically live in horrendous conditions, cramped into small wire cages that deny them the ability to express their natural behaviors such as running, digging and swimming.

Fur farms house mink in crowded, cruel environments that create an ideal setting for pathogens to circulate. Wire cages are packed together and may be stacked on top of each other so that waste falls on the animals below. These animals are highly stressed due to the miserable conditions and are thus more susceptible to infection.

Not only are farmed mink highly susceptible to COVID-19, but they are also capable of transmitting the virus to humans. A growing body of science shows how mink are particularly high-risk “mixing vessels” for producing dangerous variants of respiratory diseases that are potentially transmissible to humans. Farmed mink-to-human transmission of the virus has been reported in at least six countries so far, including the U.S. Moreover, transmission of COVID-19 from fur-farmed mink to humans could introduce new variants, undermining the effectiveness of vaccines. Millions of animals throughout hundreds of mink fur farms have been culled in Europe in response to SARS-CoV-2. Now, more than 50,000 mink have been culled on one fur farm in Spain as a result of avian flu. This level of disease risk for the sake of fur fashion simply cannot be justified.

Information from the Animal Welfare Institute and the Humane Society of the United States.

What You Can Do:

Contact your U.S. Representatives right now, and urge them to cosponsor and support the Mink VIRUS Act, to protect both mink and the public using the sample letter below. You can find your Representatives here.

Share this Action Alert on your social media to raise awareness, educate, and encourage your family, friends, and co-workers to contact their U.S. Representatives about these important bills!

Take Action:

Dear Representative ______ ,

As a constituent, I want to communicate my deep concern about COVID-19 and avian flu outbreaks on mink farms and urge you to cosponsor the Mink VIRUS Act (H.R. 3783).

Farms that raise mink for their pelts present a clear, immediate danger to public health. A growing body of science shows how, due to their lung physiology, mink are particularly high-risk “mixing vessels” for producing dangerous variants of respiratory diseases that are potentially transmissible to humans. These fur farms house mink in crowded, cruel environments that create an ideal setting for pathogens to circulate and threaten to usher in the next pandemic.

Not only are farmed mink highly susceptible to disease, but they are also capable of transmitting the virus to humans. For example, COVID-19 infected millions of farmed mink, and there were several recorded instances of the mink passing a mutated form of this virus back to humans. In addition, a deadly avian influenza virus infected mink on a fur farm in Spain in October 2022. This was the first time this virus spread widely between mammals, and it could invade other mink farms and become still more transmissible.

The Mink VIRUS Act is an opportunity to address this public health crisis by phasing out mink farming in the US and establishing a grant program to reimburse mink farmers for the full value of their farm. The mink farming industry, already struggling due to a decreased demand for fur in recent years, has been reliant on taxpayer-funded subsidies and relief dollars. This grant program would provide mink farmers with the resources to transition to other industries that are more financially sustainable and do not threaten public health.

I urge you to support H.R. 3783, and I look forward to hearing back from you on this important matter.

Sincerely,

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