04.12.2017 change 04.12.2017

Zoologist: Closing of mink farms should be accompanied by awareness campaign

Photo: PAP/Marcin Bielecki Photo: PAP/Marcin Bielecki

Closing of mink farms would make sense if accompanied by a simultaneous awareness-raising campaigns aimed at consumers. If demand for fur continues, the problem will move to other countries" - zoologist Dr. Joanna Bagniewska told PAP.

Law and Justice deputies have tabled a draft amendment to the Law on the Protection of Animals. Its provisions include a ban on breeding and farming fur animals for the purpose of obtaining fur. The ban would come into force on January 1, 2022. Representatives of the fur industry oppose these provisions.

"The suffering of animals and the threat to the environment caused by the farms are the main reasons for the ban on mink farms" - said Joanna Bagniewska, a zoologist at the University of Reading. As she added, it is crucial to carry out a public awareness campaign to raise awareness of mink-farming problems.

"If we ban mink farms in Poland and people still want to have furs, the problem of mink farming will move to other countries such as China, where various species of fur animals are now being farmed in worse conditions than in Poland" - she noted.

In an interview with PAP the expert said that American mink bred in Poland for fur is an animal adapted to predatory lifestyle. When living in the wild, minks hunt in water, on land and in trees. They are larger and more efficient than their relatives, European minks, which are extinct in Poland.

The zoologist emphasized that it is impossible to ensure that farms are 100% escape-proof, and the escape of these animals into the environment is a real threat. "In some parts of Europe, American mink is a food competition for indigenous animals - which in practice means that they are after the same kind of food" - she said. "And because of their great effectiveness as hunters, they can contribute to the destruction of other species. For example, on islands inhabited by aquatic birds they feel like kids in a confectionery store, they can decimate local populations".

Bagniewska also recalled the case of Great Britain, where activists who cared about minks were breaking into the farms and releasing them to the wild. "Their intentions were good, but the execution - no so much, because the minks strongly disturbed the local environment" - she emphasized.

According to Dr. Bagniewska, it would be relatively easy to improve the welfare of these animals: give them larger cages with more space. "But it does not exhaust the basic threat posed by breeding, the risk of introducing a foreign and highly invasive species into the environment" - she added.

In the case of farms, the accompanying intense smell is also considered a huge problem. This is because unlike other species that are bred by humans on a massive scale minks are predators, and consequently the odour of their faeces is more irritating than that of herbivores. In addition, there is the smell of meat feed and dirty cages, in which thousands of crowded animals are kept" - said Dr. Bagniewska.

"Fur is a luxury commodity - it is not necessary to live and survive. We have a lot of alternatives for beautiful clothing, so shutting down the farms should not be a big problem for the society" - she concluded. (PAP)

Author: Szymon Zdziebłowski

Editor: Anna Ślązak

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