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Group wants Pritzker to include mink farms in COVID-19 mitigation strategy

(The Center Square) – A coalition of animal welfare groups is urging Gov. J.B. Pritzker to include mink farms in his COVID-19 mitigation strategy, saying the farms are “ticking timebombs.”

Animal Wellness Action said COVID-19 outbreaks among companies, which is what a group of minks is called, have infected and killed thousands of mink on farms in Wisconsin and Michigan. They want Pritzker to take action before it hits Illinois’ mink farms.

“While the industry is small and waning, it just takes one super-spreading mink farm to undo your diligent work to contain COVID-19 in the state,” said Animal Wellness Action President Wayne Pacelle. “These factory farms are potential super-spreaders of the virus, and let’s act before they do damage to our communities and set the state and nation back.”

Pacelle wants Pritzker’s Illinois Department of Agriculture to coordinate with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to immediately quarantine all mink farm operations in the state, halt breeding programs to slow the expansion of host animals, and work on a long term solution.

Messages seeking reaction from the Pritzker administration weren’t immediately returned.

After the culling of millions of mink in Denmark last month because of a “mutated strain of coronavirus detected in the animals,” the Fur Commission of USA issued a statement.

“The cull has now been paused after authorities questioned the legality of such a drastic action,” the group said. “Now, in the U.S., anti-fur activists are seizing on this tragedy to once again call for unnecessary restrictions on mink farming.”

“While a handful of farms in the U.S. have detected the COVID-19 virus, there is no evidence to date that any humans have been infected by those mink,” the Fur Commission of USA said on its website.

“Animal welfare is a farmer’s entire livelihood,” Fur Commission USA Executive Director Michael Whelan in a statement. “We are taking the necessary steps, as recommended by the CDC, the USDA, and the respective State Veterinarians, to protect workers and animals from this virus. Animal rights campaigners are now shamelessly trying to exploit a tragic situation to once again push their misguided political agenda.”

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