Finnish authorities have said that due to the ongoing outbreak of Highly pathogenic H5N1 bird flu on 25 farms across the country they will now have to cull 120,000 animals. The bird flu epidemic began in fur farms in mid-July of this year. Yesterday, the Finnish Food Authority stated that the latest case of bird flu was found in blue foxes sent from a fur farm in Kauhava. This follows on from last month when 70,000 animals, including 30,000 minks and 40,000 foxes, were culled to prevent the spread of avian influenza. FOUR PAWS, the global animal welfare organization, called on the ongoing situation “very troubling”.
Scientific studies have shown that mink farming poses risks for future viral pandemics, which strongly urge governments to also consider the mounting evidence suggesting that “fur farming, particularly mink, be eliminated in the interest of pandemic preparedness. Fur farming should be in the same category of high-risk practices as the bushmeat trade and live animal markets.”
According to the World Organisation for Animal Health, by the end of 2022, sixty-seven countries across five continents had reported highly pathogenic avian influenza outbreaks.
Thomas Pietsch, FOUR PAWS Head of Wild Animals in Entertainment and Textiles, said, “The ongoing outbreak of bird flu in Finland is very troubling and part of a wider problem across Europe and the world are ongoing outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza on fur farms. This serious matter needs a global aligned response to tackle the zoonotic risks before a more dangerous and highly contagious variant develops.
“Post COVID-19 there should have been no excuses to allow such cruel practices to continue. What we need now is an EU-wide ban of fur farming. Currently, 19 EU Member States have already totally or partially banned fur farming on grounds of animal welfare and public health and the news in Finland only highlights the need to change the law ensuring all EU member states do not continue this cruel practice.”
In June of this year the final count of validated signatures for the Fur Free Europe European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI), which aims to achieve an EU-wide ban on keeping and killing of animals for the sole purpose of fur production, was confirmed at an impressive 1,502,319 submitted to the European Commission.
Although the industry is declining, Finland is still a major fur producing country in Europe with more than 500 farms for mink, foxes and raccoon-dogs. With such a high number of fur farms, this was avoidable and a needless tragedy. Fur farming does not belong in a modern society or a modern economy.”
Thomas Pietsch, Head of Wild Animals in Entertainment and Textiles, FOUR PAWS