Helsinki/Vienna, 22 August, 2023 – 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.
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.
FOUR PAWS, the global animal welfare organisation, called on the ongoing situation “very troubling”.
“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.
Thomas Pietsch, FOUR PAWS Head of Wild Animals in Entertainment and Textiles
“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.
Pietsch concluded, “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.”
Finnish Food Authority statement: https://www.ruokavirasto.fi/elaimet/elainten-terveys-ja-elaintaudit/elaintaudit/ajankohtaista-elaintaudeista/lintuinfluenssaa-loytyi-uudelta-turkistarhalta-mikkelissa-tautiin-kuolleita-lokkeja/
Mink farming poses risks for future viral pandemics: https://www.pnas.org/doi/10.1073/pnas.2303408120
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FOUR PAWS is the global animal welfare organisation for animals under direct human influence, which reveals suffering, rescues animals in need and protects them. Founded in 1988 in Vienna by Heli Dungler and friends, the organisation advocates for a world where humans treat animals with respect, empathy and understanding. The sustainable campaigns and projects of FOUR PAWS focus on companion animals including stray dogs and cats, farm animals and wild animals – such as bears, big cats and orangutans – kept in inappropriate conditions as well as in disaster and conflict zones. With offices in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Kosovo, the Netherlands, Switzerland, South Africa, Thailand, Ukraine, the UK, the USA and Vietnam as well as sanctuaries for rescued animals in eleven countries, FOUR PAWS provides rapid help and long-term solutions. www.four-paws.org