Born Free USA Calls for an End to Fur Farming in the U.S. in Response to COVID-19 Outbreak

WASHINGTON, Aug. 20, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — Born Free USA, a global leader in animal welfare and wildlife conservation, is calling for…

WASHINGTON, Aug. 20, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — Born Free USA, a global leader in animal welfare and wildlife conservation, is calling for an end to fur farming in the United States in response to outbreaks of COVID-19 on fur farms in Utah.

The presence of COVID-19 on U.S. fur farms is a serious animal welfare and public health concern. According to a press release issued by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) on Aug. 17, scientists confirmed the first case of SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19 in humans) in mink at two fur farms in Utah. The conditions on fur farms are typically extremely unhygienic, with animals kept in cramped, dirty cages – optimal conditions for the spread of disease among animals and, potentially, to humans as well.

SARS-CoV-2 infections in mink have already been documented on numerous fur farms in Europe.

Angela Grimes, Born Free USA CEO, says, «Born Free USA is extremely concerned about the developing situation in Utah – a situation that was all too predictable given the conditions in these facilities. As we have seen in Europe, the disease spreads quickly across fur farms. If it is on two farms in Utah today, there is a good chance it could be on 10 next week, and moving into different states shortly after that.»

In June, authorities in Denmark, the Netherlands, and Spain killed more than 1.5 million animals on fur farms, concerned that the animals could harbor the illness and spread it indefinitely. With the virus now present on fur farms in the U.S. it is possible that U.S. authorities might follow suit and turn to killing animals as a means of controlling the spread of the virus.

«The animals currently languishing in fur farms in the U.S. will be killed either so their skin can be used as a fashion accessory or, possibly, to prevent the spread of this outbreak,» says Grimes. «In either case, thousands of innocent animals will pay with their lives and that is unacceptable. In the interests of animal welfare and public health and safety, fur farming must be outlawed. The U.S is now trailing behind other countries on this issue. The time to act is now.»

As Born Free USA’s 2009 fur farm report, Cruelty Uncaged, demonstrated, fur farms in the U.S. are significantly lacking in oversight and transparency. The oversight that is in place is governed by an inconsistent array of laws and regulations that vary from state to state.  More than a decade on from the report’s publication, Born Free USA has discovered that little has changed or improved on U.S. fur farms.

This lack of regulations makes relying on existing laws inadequate for addressing the developing COVID-19 situation. Instead, U.S. authorities should look to end the fur farming industry, an industry that has come under fire in recent years as awareness grows among members of the public about the cruel conditions in these facilities.

«To truly act in the best interests of the animals and of people,» Grimes says, «fur farms should be shut down. The fur industry is a dying one, with more and more consumers making the compassionate choice to go fur-free. Now is the time to push for an end to this cruel industry once and for all.»

About Born Free USA

Born Free USA works to ensure that all wild animals, whether living in captivity or in the wild, are treated with compassion and respect and are able to live their lives according to their needs. We oppose the exploitation of wild animals in captivity and campaign to keep them where they belong – in the wild. Born Free USA’s Primate Sanctuary is the largest in the United States and provides a permanent home for more than 450 primates rehomed from laboratories or rescued from zoos and private ownership.

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Heather Ripley

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