Coronavirus outbreak in Dutch mink farms
The decision to ban farming mink for fur in the Netherlands on ethical grounds was announced in 2015, after unsuccessful appeals to the original vote of the Dutch senate to do so in 2012. The Netherlands currently has over 100 intensive fur farms where these solitary, semi-aquatic animals are kept in tiny wire cages, usually amongst hundreds or thousands of other mink.
Recently, the mass slaughter of thousands of mink on farms has been announced by Dutch ministers. This is because SARS-CoV-2* has been introduced to the animals by workers with COVID-19**. It is believed that the farms could act as a reservoir for the virus (where it spreads easily given the cramped conditions) and consequently pose a threat to public health. Two workers have also caught the virus from infected mink.
In light of the outbreaks, Dutch animal welfare groups are calling for all farms to close ahead of the 2024 deadline.
UPDATE: The Netherlands has brought forward the closure of all Dutch mink farms by March 2021.
*Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2, shortened to SARS-CoV-2, is actually the virus that causes COVID-19 (the disease).
**In COVID-19, ‘CO’ stands for ‘corona,’ ‘VI’ for ‘virus,’ ‘D’ for disease and 19 indicates the year it was discovered.