Helsinki/Vienna, 18 September 2023 – The latest measures announced by the Finnish Food Authority to prevent the spread of avian influenza is an order to cull all animals at fur farms with avian influenza infections.
Previously, all termination decisions were made on a case-by-case basis.
Estimated figures indicate that the decision will apply to approximately 115,000 animals, with 109,000 foxes and 6,000 raccoon dogs. This is also in addition to the previous culling order of some 135,000 animals, of which 50,000 were mink, 79,000 foxes and 6,000 raccoon dogs.
FOUR PAWS, the global animal welfare organisation, has called the new measures “heartbreaking and wholly avertible”.
“Fur farming does not belong in a modern society or a modern economy. As we have seen with COVID-19 the human-animal interface is a crucial part of public health and what we have seen in Finland over the past months highlights the absolute need for an EU ban of fur farms.
Annabella McIntosh, FOUR PAWS Wild Animal Campaigner
“Finland is still a major fur producing country in Europe with more than 500 farms for mink, foxes and raccoon dogs. The news is heartbreaking and a situation that was wholly avertible.”
This news comes on the back of last week where new photos revealed poor biosecurity measures and horrible conditions on Finnish fur farms, where animals were being killed over a bird flu outbreak.
On the images, collected by Finnish animal protection NGO Oikeutta eläimille (Justice for Animals), fur farm employees can be seen with masks resting on their chin while feeding animals and wearing open protective clothing without masks while working near the animal enclosures. The photos also show dead and cannibalized animals left in small, desolate cages and other animals suffering in agony.
McIntosh added, “Finland is just the tip of the iceberg; it is part of a wider cause for concern with fur farms and outbreaks on fur farms. It can only be tackled by a global aligned response to the zoonotic risks before a more dangerous and highly contagious variant develops.”
According to the World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH), by the end of 2022, sixty-seven countries across five continents had reported highly pathogenic avian influenza outbreaks.
While key 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.”
Finnish Food Authority statement: https://www.ruokavirasto.fi/en/animals/animal-health-and-diseases/animal-diseases/news/finnish-food-authority-orders-all-animals-to-be-culled-at-fur-farms-with-avian-influenza-infections/
Mink farming poses risks for future viral pandemics: https://www.pnas.org/doi/10.1073/pnas.2303408120
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.
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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