Following the discovery of a Covid-19 variant in minks in Denmark, the Irish Government has today announced a cull of all mink in Ireland. This would have outlawed the continued operation of mink farms in the midlands county of Laois, in Kerry in the southwest, and Donegal in the northwest.
"The wild mink in Ireland became established after escaping or being released from farms decades ago".
The Department declined to say how many samples were taken.
The Department of Agriculture said it is engaging with the country's three remaining fur farms. The Vasa Ltd Fur Farm is located in Co. They have so far not commented.
It said it welcomed the "precautionary measure" which it said would bring an end to cruel fur farming earlier than anticipated, meaning more mink will suffer in the future.
The SARS-nCoV-2019 itself is believed to have spread to humans via bats and potentially and intermediary animal. "I would also mention that minks escape regularly, so you don't want that risk of infecting the wild animal population, either".
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Earlier on Thursday, Oxford University and AstraZeneca said their potential jab had safely produced a robust immune response in older adults.
The Department added that it has produced awareness material in relation to COVID-19 for animal owners, including a Frequently Asked Question Document which includes advice for example in situations where an animal requires care or exercise in a household where someone has COVID-19 or is restricting their movement or self-isolating in line with HSE advice. The Covid-19 variant could be passed to humans and could derail vaccination plans were it to spread internationally.
"No further cases of mink variant with cluster 5 have been detected since September 15, which is why the State Serum Institute assesses that this variant has most likely become extinct", the ministry said in a statement.
There has been no open and transparent debate about the issue, and in this way the proposed ban looks like a copycat version the other European bans on fur farming. The commitment is also contained in the new programme for Government agreed between the Green Party, Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael.
Michael Whelan, the executive director for Fur Commission in Medford wrote about the animal rights organizations: "Animal welfare is a farmer's entire livelihood".