Horror revealed on Swedish fur farms
The Animal Rights Alliance reveals major animal abuse – Minks have been let down for 22 years!
For the past year-and-a-half, the Animal Rights Alliance investigation unit has been mapping out the Swedish fur industry. We have combed through environmental inspection protocols, court documents and research reports and what’s more - we have visited one-fifth of the 75 mink farms in Sweden to see them for ourselves. We have discovered major environmental violations by an industry that is already highly-criticized. Above all we have discovered the mink. Clever, beautiful wild mink imprisoned in shed after shed, housing row after row of small dirty cages. Mink that will never see any water beyond what comes out of a water nipple, even though they are hunters that naturally spend half of their life in water. Mink that express so-called stereotypical behavior, endless repetitive motion without purpose, a feeble attempt at dealing with stress and frustration.
We already knew that this would be the case. We were prepared for meeting curious eyes behind bars from animals that are so psychologically-broken that they incessantly circle their cages. We knew that it would be bad, but reality on the farms was worse than we could have ever imagined.
We understood that the mortality rate would be high. Several reports show that one out of every four or five animals die before they reach 6 months of age. But we didn’t know how they die – and how they suffer. Now we know. We have seen pups chewing on their dead littermates, entire litters where every animals has had its ear bitten off; young animals with gaping wounds on their heads; and fully-grown mink that twist and turn in agony, screaming in panic from pain and illness that minutes later ceases but only with their death.
It has been terrible to see all of this without being able to do anything about it. On our worst days, we felt completely powerless. But we’ve been driven to continue toward our goal – to make public the horrific animal cruelty that occurs on the farms. This animal cruelty cannot continue in silence.
The fourth paragraph of the Animal Welfare Act clearly states that all animals must be allowed to express their natural behaviours and that they must be protected from unnecessary suffering. But Sweden continues to allow mink to be bred and kept in mesh cages that are no bigger than 30 x 90 centimeters before being killed to produce an unnecessary luxury product that nobody needs. In 2003, the Swedish Commission of Inquiry into the Fur Industry gave Swedish fur farms until 2010 to comply with the Animal Welfare Act. Seven years later we can conclude that the Swedish fur industry has done nothing to improve conditions for mink on fur farms. It is high-time that the fur industry is made history.
The Animal Rights Alliance
The Animal Rights Alliance is a not-for-profit campaigning group that speaks for the animals. Founded in 2005, we have since then brought about the criminalization of bestiality, organized five veggie food conventions and exposed the Swedish pork industry through undercover investigation. Our work for the animals is completely dependent on donations, supporting members and active volunteers.
“Animals shall be kept and maintained in an environment that furthers their good health and allows them to behave naturally”. – Animal Welfare Act (1988:534), 4 §
We have filmed evidence of stereotypical behavior on thirteen of the fifteen farms that we visited. The stereotypes, by which we mean incessant repetitive motion that serves no purpose, is a feeble attempt by the mink to deal with stress and frustration. It is a common symptom of an animal’s natural needs not being met.
“The majority of mink show typical signs of derangement that animals express when confined to areas that are too constrictive” – Sverre Sjölander, Professor in Zoology.
SICK AND INJURED ANIMALS
“A sick or injured animal shall be given necessary medical attention, if the illness or injury isn’t severe enough to justify the animal being put down immediately”.
Animal Welfare Act (1988:534) § 9.
We have found sick animals with infected eyes and ear; unconscious, convulsive and dead animals were found on two-thirds of the farms. Maimed, bleeding animals with torn-off ears, large gaping head wounds and missing limps were found on eleven of the fifteen visited farms. The horrific injuries are the result of fights caused by crowding in shockingly small cages – in the wild mink interact only to mate – but the injuries are also oftentimes caused by self-mutilation. According to 2 § of the Animal Welfare Act, animals are to be “treated well and are to be protected from unnecessary suffering and illness”.
“If a cow becomes sick, then we’re called immediately. But the mink are so many that if one animal becomes sick, then we're not called – the animal has too little economic value for the farmer. We only get called if there is an epidemic. But every animal has an intrinsic value and the Animal Welfare Act clearly states that if an animal becomes sick, then it must be treated or euthanised. Large farms like mink farms have so many animals that it can take time before illness is discovered”
– My Leffler, District Veterinarian who used to work on mink farms.
DEAD ANIMALS IN THE CAGES
On 80% of the farms, we found dead animals in the cages – in most cases, the carcasses were left among other living animals. In many cases, the carcasses had been half-eaten by their mother and siblings.
“ In the natural world, it isn’t normal for a mink to be forced to be around another dead mink. When it happens on a farm, it can lead to cannibalism because they are so under stimulated and don’t know how to react to the situation” – Mark Collins, Veterinarian
On 67% of the farms, we found cages where large amounts of faeces had piled up, oftentimes in thick layers. Mink avoid their own feces so when the cage fills up with waste, an already small space becomes even smaller.
ILLEGAL SEWAGE RUNOFF
Manure runoff could be documented at 80% of the farms. Mink manure contains high levels of nitrogen and phosphorus and causes contamination of water and soil if leaked out into the environment. Mink farms are therefore classified as environmentally-hazardous operations. By law, manure must be stored in such a way that it is sheltered from rain while preventing soil seepage.
ILLEGAL HANDLING OF CARCASSES
“Carcasses awaiting transport shall be stored in such a way that disease cannot be spread through contact with wild animals. The waste shall be stored separate from living animals” – Board of Agriculture Regulations 2009:6, section K 14.
Dead mink that had been left to rot throughout and around the farm property, or were otherwise disposed of improperly, were found on 73% of the farms, even though all carcasses must be immediately removed and stored, preferably frozen. Many carcasses had been left to rot for at least 6 months, since the pelting season last November.
We have documented cannibalism on half of the farms. Mink females that kill their young and littermates that kill and eat one another is more the rule than the exception. Cannibalism is caused by stress and lack of stimulation. The mink have no release for their hunting instincts and those mink that fall victim to attack have no possibility to take flight or cover in their tiny cages.
“Animals on fur farms have high levels of stress and this can cause cannibalism” - My Leffler, Veterinarian.