Leading Article: Mink farming is cruel and must end now

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The Independent Culture
THEY MAY have been wrong-headed and dangerous, but the recent mass liberations of mink from their cages did at least force attention on this issue. Now a Private Member's Bill, sponsored by Maria Eagle MP, is attempting to outlaw mink farming in this country. The bill has attracted cross-party support. It should be welcomed not only by anti-fur models cavorting in Piccadilly Circus but by all those campaigning for the better treatment of animals.

Mink farming is a disgusting industry. It cannot be compared with battery farming of hens or the tethering of sows. Mink are wild animals. In their natural habitat in North America they live near water, in territories of some four square miles. Kept in barren cages they go mad. Caged mink exhibit several sorts of stress-related symptoms. They attack each other. They exhibit repetitive behaviour. They start to tear themselves to pieces, biting their own legs and fur. If they survive this trauma relatively undamaged, mink are gassed with either carbon dioxide or carbon monoxide, to preserve an unmarked pelt. The animals take some time to choke to death.

When protesters release them into the wild, mink, not being indigenous, cause havoc. In a recent release they killed pets and wild birds before being rounded up. Of course, not all are caught; those left at large compete fiercely with such endangered native species as the otter.

The argument that Britain should allow mink farming because if we did not someone else would do it is completely irrelevant. There are only 13 such farms left in the country and the Bill provides for the fair compensation of their owners. But more importantly, keeping mink in cages is a cruelty that only debases our humanity. The Government should make sure that Ms Eagle's Bill swiftly gets on to the Statute Book, to enable us to end this vile industry.

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