Latest COVID Casualties? Minks–Fur Real

Deaths from coronavirus continue to mount with some countries heading into a second lockdown. Over 1.3 million people have died from COVID-19 during 2020 with the end apparently nowhere in sight. While that’s scary for humans, the situation is much more dire for minks. Minks? Yup. Fur real. They are toast because if COVID-19 hasn’t killed them, man will.

We all know what a mink is right? It’s a furry animal whose skin is used for stoles, etc. for human adornment. (Insert “GASP!” from readers who are PETA supporters.) More specifically, minks are dark-colored, semi-aquatic, carnivorous mammals who are members of the weasel family. Other members of this family include otters, weasels, and ferrets.

Minks are valued for their luxurious fur. Denmark is the world’s largest producer of mink fur with about 17 million furs produced annually. Unsurprisingly, that country is also one of the world’s largest mink exporters with most of the furs being exported to China and Hong Kong. Aha! We’ve identified something not made in China.

The furry critters are grown on farms. Guess that shows what I know; city girl that I am, I thought it was grains and vegetables which farmers raised. But, no, 1,139 mink farms are located in Denmark mostly in the northern part of the country. Between 15 and 17 million minks call Denmark home. With that country’s population slightly under 6 million, minks outnumber humans there. However, the Danish mink population is about to be wiped out one way or the other.

Outbreaks of COVID-19 have ravaged the Danish mink farms since the summer. Part of the problem is that the minks are kept in crowded conditions which are ideal for spreading a virus. Although minks which catch the virus suffer similar symptoms to humans, the course of the virus’ progression is much more rapid. Most of the infected minks are dead by the day after their symptoms appear. Well, at least they didn’t suffer long.

Even more disturbing than the death of the minks is the fact that, according to the Danish Health Minister in a press conference held November 4th, half of the 783 human cases of COVID-19 in northern Denmark “are related” to the mink outbreak. While some humans (non-PETA supporters) don’t mind minks giving us the fur off their backs (literally), they do mind minks passing along coronavirus.

The World Health Organization (WHO) is concerned the coronavirus is going from humans to animals and back to humans. Each time there is such a transmission, the virus can mutate. Health experts say mutations show a decreased sensitivity against antibodies meaning a COVID-19 vaccine could be less effective. Therefore it is crucial to stop the back and forth transmission between humans and minks. How will the transmission be stopped? The solution is bad news for the minks. They are going to be killed not for their fur but as a preventative health measure.

Unfortunately, outbreaks at mink farms have continued in Denmark despite repeated efforts to exterminate (fancy schmancy word for kill) the infected animals. Thus, more serious measures have to be taken. How serious? The minks are going to be totally wiped out.

Denmark plans to kill its entire herd of minks. That’s up to 17 million minks headed to that great mink farm in the sky. The Danish police, army, and home guard are to be deployed to speed up the killing process. Not only will the furry creatures be killed, but their pelts will be destroyed as well. This culling of the minks is estimated to cost around $800 million and may lead to the end of the mink industry in Denmark. (Insert “Hurray!” from PETA supporters.)

American minks should be nervous. Could the same fate await them? Quite possibly. In 2011 there were 268 mink farms in the United States. Per USDA, American mink farms produce over 2.5 million pelts each year. Wisconsin is the leading mink-producing state followed by Utah. In October, officials reported approximately 12,000 mink had died of COVID-19 on farms in Wisconsin and Utah. If not killed, those minks definitely need to be wearing face masks.

One positive which may come out of the 2020 pandemic is that it could hasten the end of the controversial fur industry. Fur farms are already banned in many countries such as Norway, Luxembourg, Belgium, Japan, and the United Kingdom. Although fur farming is not (yet) banned in the United States, California has set housing requirements for minks that make fur farming cost-prohibitive. In addition, a ban on the sale and manufacture of fur has been imposed by the City of Los Angeles. Hollywood lights are okay; Hollywood minks are not.

Public health concerns related to COVID-19 may just be the nail in the coffin for the fur farming industry. Who needs fur in 2020 anyway? With lockdowns and stay at home orders, there’s nowhere to wear a mink stole anyway. Possibly a mink face mask, but not a fur coat. While a ban on fur farming would provide a brighter future for later generations of mink, it’s curtains for Danish minks, and possibly American minks, now.

Just WONDER-ing:

Were you aware the coronavirus could be transmitted back and forth between humans and animals? Is it acceptable for minks to be bred in crowded conditions merely to be killed so humans can look marvelous? Is killing the entire herd of Danish minks the best option to prevent further spread of the virus? If not, what should be done?

Thirty Days of Thanks — Current Events Version

You know it must be November when social media is filled with posts giving thirty reasons to be thankful. Practicing gratitude is a wonderful way to improve one’s attitude. Unfortunately, most posts I see are personal to the person posting them. Aren’t there reasons for our society as a whole to give thanks at this time of year? Of course, there are! Let’s turn to current events to see what positive things we can identify for which we can be grateful.

FUR FORBEARANCE.  Animal lovers can give thanks that our animal friends are a bit safer now. Unfortunately, there will still be a mass slaughter of certain feathered birds in connection with Thanksgiving. Nevertheless, some fur-bearing animals can breathe a sigh of relief. The Queen’s dresser (What? She can rule a kingdom but can’t dress herself?) has revealed in her new memoir that Queen Elizabeth will no longer wear fur during royal appearances. OK, she will still wear fur, but it will be faux fur. Since fashion trends are swayed by anything a royal does, it would appear that real fur is out and fake fur is where it’s at.

HEALED HERO. U.S. citizens are giving thanks that a military hero is A-OK. This particular military hero has four legs and is covered in fur. He’s Conan, the Belgian Malinois. With no regard to his personal safety, Conan dashed down a dead end tunnel after an ISIS leader clad in an explosive vest. Detonation of said vest rid the world of a terrorist but resulted in injury to Conan This brave canine officer was awarded the Medal of Honor by our Commander in Chief and invited to visit the White House. Conan, who’s a good dog, won’t complain if he’s served fast food there or even leftovers. It’s wonderful to know that man’s best friend is doing his part to serve his country.

IT’S HOW YOU PLAY THE GAME. Praise be that good sportsmanship is still a concern in today’s world. A Long Island, New York football coach, Rob Shaver of Plainedge High School, was suspended for one game after allowing his team to run up the score on an opponent. He ignored a good sportsmanship rule that was intended to prevent lopsided victories. The coach was faulted for not taking his starters out quickly enough allowing his team to notch a 61-13 victory. I’ll bet the coach did not even say “I’m sorry for your loss” to the losers.

HOPELESSLY DEVOTED TO CLOTHES. For those of us who don’t want to part with old clothes in our closet, we can be grateful that old clothes can sometimes be very valuable. Olivia Newton-John decided to clean out her closet recently and got rid of an old pair of leather pants from 1978. These famous pants, worn when she sang  “You’re The One That I Want” in “Grease,” sold for a whopping $162,000. The pants won’t be worn again or even relegated to a closet. Purchased by Spanx founder Sara Blakely, the leather pants are to be framed and hung in the Spanx headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia. Will this make Hotlanta  even hotter?

SNAGGED SUPPORTIVE SPOUSE. We can be thankful that women behind the scenes aren’t forgotten these days. We’ve all heard that behind every successful man is a woman. In some cases there’s  more than one. Let’s take recently departed ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi for example. He allegedly had four wives. No wonder he rose to such heights of terrorist power; he preferred to be out causing trouble than to be at home mediating between four wives. Turkey’s president announced that Turkish forces have captured one of these wives along with several other of the slain leader’s relatives. I feel safer that Wife #1 is in custody, but should we be nervous that Wives #2, #3, and #4 are on the loose? Can we put Conan on their trail?

THE END IS NEAR(ER). It’s almost here! The 2020 presidential election, to be held on November 3, 2020, is now less than one year away. Seems like the candidates have been running since the dawn of time, but we can now see the light at the end of the tunnel. And the tunnel is getting less crowded as presidential contenders drop out of the race. Bye bye, Beto!

FOOTBALL FRENZY. It’s a great time of year to be a college football fan. A monumental game is on tap this Saturday between LSU and Alabama, two SEC teams rated #2 and #3 respectively in the season’s first College Football Playoffs rankings. And if the high stakes game isn’t enough excitement, a high profile fan will be in the stadium–President Donald Trump. Who will President Trump be rooting for? Well, he is a member of the GOP whose official symbol is an elephant….Roll Tide???

TRASH TECHNOLOGY.  Thanks to technology, household chores are now less onerous. The world’s first self-changing trash can is currently on sale. Townew’s Smart Trash Can automatically seals the bag inside with the touch of a button. No muss, no fuss. Once the bag is removed, a new bag is automatically installed. Unfortunately, the smart trash can is not smart enough to take the discarded bag out to the street for pickup, but progress has been made.

IT’S BACK!  Didn’t get to try Popeye’s new chicken sandwich when it debuted in August, promptly sold out, and dropped off the menu?. Hallelujah!  The apparently to die for fast food feature is now back and available for purchase. Unconfirmed rumors indicate the chicken sandwich boldly asserted, “Ill be back” before fading off the menu. A chicken fight is back on between Popeye’s and Chck-Fil-A, although Chick-Fil-A observes a ceasefire on Sundays.

We can all be thankful that there is more than simply bad news out there. It may take some searching to find them; however, some current events do provide reasons for us to be thankful. Keep an eye out for additional reasons to give thanks this month when you are reading or listening to the news. And express gratitude when you come across them.

JUST WONDER-ing:

Can you think of other current events that give rise to a reason for gratitude? Do we tend to focus on good news or bad? Which attracts more media attention? Does giving thanks promote a more positive attitude?