Farmed mink in Ireland are due to be culled over Covid-19 concerns.
The Irish government ordered that the animals be culled, despite tests carried out on the country’s mink herd not detecting any positive results of the virus to date.
The Department of Health in Ireland recommended that the mink should be culled to minimise any risk of the virus spreading.
The Department of Agriculture in Ireland said it had been “working closely” with the operators of the country’s three mink farms to address any potential risks.
“Mink farmers continue to operate in full compliance with all legislative and animal welfare requirements and have co-operated fully with these efforts,” a statement from the department said.
“Testing of the mink herd in Ireland detected no positive results to Covid-19 to date.
“The Department of Health has indicated that the continued farming of mink represents an ongoing risk of additional mink-adapted Sars-CoV-2 variants emerging and, therefore, it has recommended that farmed mink in Ireland should be culled to minimise or eliminate this risk.”
Rise TD Paul Murphy said the closure of mink farms was well overdue and that it should be accompanied by a permanent ban on fur farming.
“The government has been promising for a long time now to shut these fur farms,” he said.
“This is urgent now that we see an outbreak of Covid among mink across the globe, and the new mutant Covid strain among mink in Denmark.
“Mink fur farms are an ideal breeding ground for this virus, and the Danish health authorities have warned mutations of the virus among mink could undermine the effectiveness of future vaccines too.
“Fur farming is an extremely cruel and outdated practice, and now we see the major health risks it poses too.”
Mr Murphy added: “For months now, the government have been fobbing off TDs with promises that a ban was coming. We cannot afford any more delays. The government must intervene now to shut the fur farms now, and ban them for good.”
HSE chief executive Paul Reid said that testing of the animals, as well as testing of workers and their families, was completed last week and no cases were identified.
“Obviously the instruction and direction was an engagement between NPHET (National Public Health Emergency Team), Department of Health and the Department of Agriculture in relation to the mink cull,” he said.
“From our perspective, our role was to carry out the testing of the workforce, which we have done.”
He added that there were “significant concerns” about what was happening in Denmark and the viral strain that could be impacted by the minks.