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China plans to protect vast mink and fox fur industry from Coronavirus backlash of wildlife trade

China is proposing to reclassify mink, raccoons, silver foxes and blue foxes as domestic livestock to protect the industry. It breeds and kills more than 50 million animals a year for fur.

JANE DALTON: China is considering moves that would entrench its vast fur industry further into the country’s economy, raising worries over the spread of coronavirus among animals crowded together in small spaces. The country’s agriculture ministry is proposing to reclassify mink, raccoon dogs, silver foxes and blue foxes as domestic livestock, rather than wild animals, which they are now. Animal-welfare lobbyists say the change is to protect the industry from the global pressure to end the farming of wild species because of the coronavirus pandemic.

China breeds and kills more than 50 million animals on fur farms a year, according to Humane Society International, which has written to President Xi Jinping objecting to the plan during its consultation phase… A spokeswoman said: “The conditions on China’s fur farms are very similar to conditions observed in wildlife markets, and of course fur-bearing animals are also traded in wildlife markets. “The fur trade represents an unacceptable risk considering the output is non-essential ‘fashion’.”

Dr Teresa Telecky, HSI vice-president of wildlife, said the reclassification was concerning. “Rebranding wildlife as livestock doesn’t alter the fact that there are insurmountable challenges to keeping these species in commercial captive breeding environments, and that their welfare needs simply can’t be met. “In addition, there’s clear evidence that some of these species can act as intermediate hosts of viruses, such as Covid-19, which is why we’re urging governments around the world to stop trading in wildlife”…

The number of mink, raccoon dogs and foxes farmed in China has been falling as the market has shrunk ⁠— down from 87 million animals in 2014 to 50.45 million animals in 2018. Footage has shown animals in a state of distress from being permanently confined to small cages. Most zoonotic diseases in modern times, from the 1918 flu pandemic onwards, have had animal origins, and can also infect other species. SOURCE…

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