For the past 10 months, you have been helping the BC SPCA shine a light on the inhumane mink farming industry, which presents a serious risk to public health in a pandemic. But for two wild mink on Vancouver Island, their rehabilitation story reminds us what is at stake.
When an orphaned young mink in distress arrived at Wild ARC, the BC SPCA’s wildlife rehabilitation centre, staff immediately set to work providing specialized care needed. At the same time, an orphaned mink came into another wildlife centre and was transferred to Wild ARC to be raised together. At this age, mink would still be living with their mom and littermates, so it made sense to offer the young mink companionship. After a cautious introduction, the two became fast friends.
Together, the mink enjoyed their large enclosure, designed to mimic their natural environment and regularly topped up with a wide variety of their natural foods. Their enclosure had hiding places, tunnels, branches, open areas, and their favourite amenity, a pool, where they were free to practice natural behaviours including swimming.
The mink spent time growing and exploring their complex habitat to prepare them for release into a home range that will span between 1-6 kilometers long near a body of water.
After a couple of months in care, the mink were released in the past week near to where they were found. In order to prepare for winter, they will either dig themselves a burrow or move into one made by another animal such as a rabbit or muskrat. Andrea Wallace, Manager, Wild Animal Welfare at the BC SPCA, had this to say about raising and releasing the mink, “Watching the mink grow, swim, explore, and play while in care has been wonderful, but nothing is as rewarding as watching them return to the wild.”
There is a stark contrast between how mink live in the wild and how mink are raised on fur farms. Sadly, mink on fur farms are housed in small, barren cages with no access to water for swimming. Fur farms are designed to raise mink in order to harvest their fur as cheaply as possible and fail to meet these wild animals’ complex behavioural needs.
Mink farms can have thousands of mink living side-by-side in rows of small cages. This is the perfect environment for diseases to spread. Sadly, four outbreaks of COVID-19 on B.C. mink farms have demonstrated that keeping these animals safe and healthy on farms isn’t possible.
If you haven’t already, or it was a while ago, please reach out to B.C.’s Minister of Agriculture, Food, and Fisheries and your MLA to ask them to shut down B.C.’s last 10 fur farms for good.