Helsinki/Vienna, 1 August 2023 – The Finnish Food Authority have today announced that fur farms that have been affected by the current outbreak of avian influenza must cull all mink that have been infected by the disease. Terminations regarding foxes and raccoon-dogs will be made “on a case-by-case basis”.
By the end of July, avian influenza had been detected on twenty fur farms across Finland. The Food Authority has so far issued orders to kill animals at three of those fur farms.
FOUR PAWS, the global animal welfare organisation, has called the events “avoidable and needless tragedy”.
Thomas Pietsch, FOUR PAWS Head of Wild Animals in Entertainment and Textiles, said, “The current situation on the twenty fur farms in Finland proves serious zoonotic risks and therefore the industry needs to be shut down in the whole EU not only for animal welfare reasons but also to protect public health.
“Since 2020, 450 mink farms in the EU reported COVID-19 outbreaks amongst their animals and about 20 million mink had to be culled to protect human health, yet this cruel practice has been allowed to continue and we are seeing now even more unnecessarily killed.
“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 needs to change the law ensuring all EU member states do not continue this cruel practice."
“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, FOUR PAWS Head of Wild Animals in Entertainment and Textiles
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, “What we are seeing across Europe and indeed the world are ongoing outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza and COVID-19 on fur farms. This serious matter needs a global aligned response to tackle the zoonotic risks before a more dangerous and highly contentious variant develops.”
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.
This follows on from a huge spike across Europe and South America of avian influenza, commonly known as bird flu. Only last month, bird flu was detected in 29 domesticated cats in three regions of Poland, with the European Food Safety Authority urging people to keep their pets indoors to help stop the spread of the disease. The WHO stated on the outbreak in Poland, “This is the first report of high numbers of cats infected with avian influenza spread over a wide geographical area within any country.”
This coincided with five dogs and a cat in Italy being diagnosed, while at the same, just off the coast in the United Kingdom, 330 seagulls' carcasses were found on the local beaches after bird flu was officially detected at a nearby farm. Earlier this week, Brazil’s Official Veterinary Service confirmed two new outbreaks, in Rio de Janeiro and in the state of Paraná which account for 35% of Brazil’s poultry production.
The Finnish Food Authorities statement:
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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