Many of my fondest childhood memories are of time spent with my grandfather, a mink farmer in a tiny Idaho town, just a few miles north of the Utah border. A soft-spoken, kind and generous man, my grandfather doted on his children, including my mother, and on me and his other grandkids.
Even with his gentle touch and his expressions of affection for the animals, though, there were some unavoidable truths. Commercial mink farms are factory farms in every sense: The animals are kept in cramped, crowded conditions that deprive them of their most basic needs. And the killing of the animals during pelting season could never be called humane.
After my grandfather passed in 1990, my grandmother “pelted out” the farm, meaning every last mink was killed and skinned. Within a few years, the fur industry began to decline as consumer demand waned, mainly in response to growing concern over animal welfare. Today, there are no more than 200 mink farms in operation in the United States today.
COVID-19 outbreaks are decimating mink on U.S. farms. Mink are among the most susceptible mammals to COVID-19 infections. The virus has killed at least 8,000 mink on farms throughout Utah, with the toll on Wisconsin mink farms in the thousands and climbing. For mink, death is almost immediate, occurring within 24 hours of infection.
With COVID-19 cases rising, and on the heels of news that Denmark will deploy its military to kill 17 million mink to prevent the spread of the virus in that country, we at Animal Wellness Action are calling on USDA to develop an emergency plan to address the threat that U.S. mink farms pose to our communities.
I like to think that my grandfather, with his common sense and strong feelings of responsibility for his community (he was the mayor of Franklin for many years), would agree that while this may seem a drastic solution to some, it is the right thing to do.
This holiday season, I hope you’ll choose to not purchase mink furs, or other animal products, as we fight to better the lives of animals the world over. In the U.S. every year, mink farmers kill 2.7 mink a year. Shuttering these farms will prevent 27 million mink from endless misery over the next decade.
I also hope, as we near Giving Tuesday, that you’ll choose to support us in that mission, because I believe, as do my colleagues, that helping animals helps us all.
Please donate to help us end the factory farming of minks.