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REVIEW article

Front. Anim. Sci., 25 October 2023
Sec. Animal Welfare and Policy
Volume 4 - 2023 | https://doi.org/10.3389/fanim.2023.1249901

One health implications of fur farming

  • 1Emergent Disease Foundation, London, United Kingdom
  • 2Arizona Exotic Animal Hospital, Phoenix, AZ, United States
  • 3School of Applied Sciences, London South Bank University, London, United Kingdom

Fur farming involves the captive-breeding, rearing, and killing of between 85 – 100 million animals annually for their pelts. The purpose of this report is to summarise key areas of significance and concern regarding fur farming, and discuss these matters and their one-health considerations. We conducted primary literature searches using Google Scholar and PubMed that focused on issues of animal welfare, zoonoses and public health, and environmental impacts of fur farming, and examined 280 reports. We identified that at least 15 species are farmed for fur across at least 19 countries. We found 16 categories of animal welfare concern (e.g., deprivation, stress, abnormal behaviours, insanitary conditions, forced obesity, and high morbidity and mortality), 18 reported endemic pathogens and diseases with confirmed or potential zoonotic and cross-species implications (e.g., bacterial n = 6, viral n = 5, and parasitic n = 7), and four main categories of environmental concern (e.g., greenhouse gas emissions, invasive alien species, toxic chemicals, and eutrophication) associated with fur farming. Despite numerous efforts to systematically monitor and control animal welfare at fur farms, practices continue to fail to meet normal scientific principles and models used in other animal welfare situations. In our view, limited available data does not currently indicate that fur farms are major sources of zoonotic epidemics and pandemics. The environmental problems caused by fur farming are significant, and relate mainly to invasive species, toxic chemical release and eutrophication of water bodies. We offer some recommendations for monitoring and controlling particular fur farming practices, in line with many governments and other investigators we conclude that inherent problems are essentially unresolvable and advocate complete prohibitions on the sector.

Introduction

Fur farming involves the captive-breeding, rearing, and killing of animals for their pelts, although byproducts include fur, skin, and meat (Gremmen, 2014; Halliday and McCulloch, 2022; Linzey and Linzey, 2022). Whilst ‘farming’ implies that animals are bred and raised within a closed-cycle system, the wild-capture of animals is also reported to constitute part of the supply chain (Gremmen, 2014); thus, the term ‘farm’ may be subject to broad use. Precise historical commencement of organised fur farming is unclear. However, mink (Neogale [formerly Neovison] vison), for example, were farmed in the USA as early as the 1860s (International Fur Trade Federation, 2011), and in the case of coypu (nutria) (Myocastor coypus) as early as 1913 (Colpitts, 1997). Currently, there are at least 11,000 fur farms across Europe, North America, and China alone (Fenollar et al., 2021). The global value of fur farming has been estimated at $40bn (ActAsia, 2019), and the industry directly employs around 60,000 people (Gremmen, 2014). Presently, fur farming may involve between 85 and 100 million animals per year (Pluda, 2020; Halliday and McCulloch, 2022; Linzey and Linzey, 2022), with the main production regions being Europe, the United States, and China (Gremmen, 2014).

Production, marketing, and consumption of fur has raised longstanding key concerns from nongovernmental organisations (NGOs) and the surveyed public regarding, notably, animal welfare (Picket and Harris, 2015; ActAsia, 2019; Halliday and McCulloch, 2022), zoonoses and public health (Picket and Harris, 2015; ActAsia, 2019), environmental issues, carbon emissions and footprint (ActAsia, 2019), and ethics (Sun, 2013; Picket and Harris, 2015; Thubron, 2017; ActAsia, 2019; Gorbach, 2021; Arney, 2022; Linzey and Linzey, 2022). Leading NGOs, academics, and public opinion have called for the development and implementation of legislation to alleviate or, in particular, completely prohibit fur farming practices that involve harm to animals, people, and the environment (Laatu, 2013; Sun, 2013; Picket and Harris, 2015; ActAsia, 2019; Arney, 2022; Fur Free Alliance, 2020; Pluda, 2020). The scientific community has also provided numerous studies documenting issues and concerns that broadly support the messages of the NGO reports, and this information will be presented later. Whilst NGOs have produced some detailed and evidence-based reports, such as those above, our data collation focused primarily on the peer-reviewed scientific literature.

In this report, we aim to summarise three key areas of significance and concern regarding fur farming, in particular, animal welfare, public health, and environmental issues, and discuss these matters within the one-health theme. We also apply a precautionary principle throughout, in which we adopt the position that where data may be lacking, priority of concern and protection is assumed in favour of animal welfare, public health, and environmental issues.

Methods

We conducted six primary literature searches using Google Scholar and PubMed since 2010. We selected Google Scholar for its search breadth capabilities, and we selected PubMed for its specificity regarding health-related issues. Subject searches were: 1. animal welfare, 2. zoonoses, 3. environment/climate, 4. environment/invasive alien species, 5. environment/toxic chemicals, and 6. environment/eutrophication. The results are presented in Box 1.

To determine the major environmental effects of fur farming to investigate further, an initial scoping literature search was carried out in Scholar, using the terms [“environmental issues” “fur farming”] and [“environmental impacts” “fur farming”]. The results were sorted by relevance. The first 20 documents were scanned to identify the major environmental issues related to fur farming. These were invasive species, eutrophication, and toxic chemicals. These terms were used to build more specific searches. [Greenhouse gasses and CO2 were flagged for consideration for examination at the request of the funder.]

The literature review followed the guidelines for rapid reviews (Khangura et al., 2012; Dobbins, 2017), and considered papers from 2010 to present although the papers may cite work done earlier.

Search 1.

Scholar search: “fur farm” (welfare OR stereotypy) - 387 results.

PubMed search: “fur farm” AND (welfare OR stereotypy) - 0 relevant results.

Search 2.

Scholar search: “fur farm” (“public health” OR disease OR zoono*) - 523 results.

PubMed search: “fur farm” (“public health” OR disease OR zoono*) - 4 results (3 new and 1 duplicate).

Search 3.

Scholar search: (“CO2 emissions” OR “greenhouse gas” OR “carbon footprint”) “climate change” “fur farming” - 106 results.

PubMed search: (“CO2 emissions” OR “greenhouse gas” OR “carbon footprint”) “climate change” “fur farming” - 0 results.

Scholar search: “mink manure” “greenhouse gas” - 30 results.

PubMed search: “mink manure” “greenhouse gas” - 0 results.

Search 4.

Scholar search: “fur farming” “invasive alien species” - 164 results.

PubMed search: “fur farming” “invasive alien species” - 0 results.

Search 5.

Scholar search: “fur farming” “toxic chemicals” - 37 results.

PubMed search: “fur farming” “toxic chemicals” - 0 results.

Search 6.

Scholar search: “fur farming” “eutrophication”- 93 results.

PubMed search: “fur farming” “eutrophication” - 0 results.

Additional items (animal welfare = 42, zoonoses and public health = 28, environment = 1) were supplemented from authors’ libraries. Reports were excluded on the basis of low relevance, for example, duplication of same information, articles focused on history of fur farming, or specific laboratory-based infection of animals.

The summary information contained in Tables 112 is derived from reviewed published reports and may not include all examples of otherwise known species and countries involved in fur farming, animal welfare issues, pathogens and diseases, or environmental considerations.

TABLE 1
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Table 1 Species currently farmed globally by species name, common name, and region.

TABLE 2
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Table 2 Animal welfare issues identified in literature.

TABLE 3
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Table 3 Confirmed and potential zoonotic and cross-species infections associated with fur farmed animals (ordered by pathogen type and then alphabetically by disease).

TABLE 4
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Table 4 The results of the literature search on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from fur farming and mink manure.

TABLE 5
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Table 5 The environmental effects of invasive coypu/nutria (Myocastor coypus) by country.

TABLE 6
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Table 6 The environmental effects of invasive American mink (Neogale vison).

TABLE 7
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Table 7 The environmental effects of invasive muskrat (Ondatra zibethicus) by region.

TABLE 8
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Table 8 The environmental effects of invasive racoon dog (Nyctereutes procyonoides) by country.

TABLE 9
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Table 9 The environmental effects of invasive North American raccoon (Procyon lotor) by region.

TABLE 10
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Table 10 Other species of concern.

TABLE 11
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Table 11 Toxic chemicals used in the fur processing industry.

TABLE 12
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Table 12 The eutrophication effect of nutrient enrichment on water bodies in the vicinity of fur farms.

Results

Box 1. Search results.

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Box 1 provides the results for the search terms and strings.

Overview

Currently, at least 15 species are farmed for fur across at least 19 countries (Table 1). Across all 15 species identified as fur farmed animals, the biological obligate dietary categories and representations were noted: carnivores n = 7; omnivores n = 5; herbivores n = 3. However, the most frequently cited fur farmed species (mink [Neogale vison], raccoon dogs [Nyctereutes procyonoides], and foxes [Vulpes vulpes & Alopex lagopus]) are all carnivores.

Numerous countries were identified that formerly permitted fur farming and that have now prohibited the practice, which include: Austria, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, France, Northern Ireland, Luxembourg, North Macedonia, Norway, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, The Netherlands, and United Kingdom (Arney, 2022). Currently, the European Union is considering a ban on fur farming across its membership, and if introduced then this would add Bulgaria, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Spain, and Sweden to those countries that have already prohibited the practice. Such a ban would raise the minimum total number of nations banning fur farming to 31, and reduce the number of practicing countries to a minimum of six, these being Canada, China, Iceland, Japan, Russia, and the USA.

Animal welfare

From the literature review of current fur farming operations, we identified at least 16 categories of animal welfare issues and concerns (Table 2), which were categorised on the basis of negative reporting and itemisation for these factors within the literature.

Public health, zoonoses, and cross-species infections

From the literature we identified at least 18 reported endemic pathogens and diseases with confirmed or potential zoonotic and cross-species implications that were associated with fur farmed animals (Table 3). Of these pathogens and diseases, their categorisations were bacterial n = 6, viral n = 5, and parasitic n = 7. Across all 18 endemic pathogens and diseases, those with recorded confirmed or potential categories of zoonotic, cross-species/spillover, or reverse zoonotic were n = 15, n = 16, and n = 2 respectively. The information contained in Table 3 may under represent the diversity of pathogens, diseases, and affected species. For example, whilst there was a lack of reports directly associating Lissavirus, canine Parvovirus, and SARS-CoV-2 with farmed cats and dogs, these animals are potentially linked to these issues.

Environment

From the literature we identified four main categories of environmental concern (greenhouse gas emissions, invasive alien species, toxic chemicals, and eutrophication) (Tables 412). Across all four categories, the numbers of cited examples of concern regarding greenhouse gas emissions, invasive alien species, toxic chemicals, and eutrophication were n = 9, n = 57 (7 species), n = 13, and n = 9, respectively.

It is estimated that between 15% and 38% of all invasive mammal species originate from fur farming (Genovesi et al., 2009; Tedeschi et al., 2022). Although there have historically been other reasons for introduction of furbearers to non native habitats, those introductions were smaller in scale, and there is a large body of evidence, including genetic single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP) studies that trace back the origins of several problematic invasive species directly to escapes or releases from fur farms. Indeed, the fur species American mink, racoon dog and muskrat, are the most widespread invasive species in Europe, spanning 27 countries (Tedeschi et al., 2022). A study in South America for example, showed that whilst some invasive species were imported for hunting such as hares and rabbits, deer, antelope and chital, or for biological control (grey foxes), American mink, muskrats and North American beavers were imported for specifically for fur. Nutria and the American mink are cited by IUCN’s Global Invasive Species Database as originating from fur farming escapes or releases (IUCN, 2023). Furthermore, widespread populations of the American mink and racoon dog have their origins clearly traced to releases in the Russian Federation from fur farms, where the species were first recorded (Balakirev and Tinaeva, 2001). A study in Denmark on the invasive racoon dog, (Nordgren, 2017) used 4000 SNPs to show that the species originated from Danish fur farm escapes and releases. Genetic studies have shown that often animals from different fur farms have genetically distinct profiles so it is possible to track their spread. Once the animals are released or escaped there is often considerable admixture, which increases genetic diversity and makes the populations more adaptable and difficult to control (Zalewski et al., 2009).

The literature review identified the following taxa as major alien species, primarily originating from fur farming, that cause environmental damage, damage to infrastructure and biodiversity loss: coypu/nutria (Myocastor coypus); American mink (Neogale vison); muskrat (Ondatra zibethicus); racoon dog (Nyctereutes procyonoides); raccoon (Procyon lotor) and to a lesser extent red foxes (Vulpes vulpes) and the North American beaver (Castor canadensis). For this report, we presumptively consider that where a species has been recognised as an invasive organism it holds an inherent potential to invade local ecologies from fur farms, whether or not a release has occurred.

Coypu (Myocastor coypus) also called nutria, are native to South America, and are semi-aquatic rodents since introduced to Asia, Europe, Africa and North America for fur farming (Carter and Leonard, 2002; Bertolino and Genovesi, 2007; Liordos et al., 2017; IUCN, 2023). The rodent has a very high reproductive rate, and a wide range of acceptable habitats, hence accidental and deliberate releases have allowed its spread in the wild; it is now listed as one of the world’s worst invasive alien species (Lowe et al., 2000; IUCN, 2023).

American mink (Neogale vison) were introduced into Europe, South America and Asia via fur farming (Balakirev and Tinaeva, 2001; IUCN, 2023), and the species is now established in the wild in 28 countries. Mink are highly mobile with a high rate of reproduction, and are one of the most invasive and damaging species in Europe (Zuberogoitia et al., 2010). Part of the success of the spread of the America mink relates to its opportunistic generalist predation habits, selecting a variety of available and vulnerable prey.

Muskrat (Ondatra zibethicus) are medium-sized semi-aquatic, omnivorous rodents that are seasonal breeders, and native to North America. Through fur farming, the muskrat has spread to Europe, Asia, and South America, with the preferred habitat being wetlands in a variety of climates (Keddy, 2010).

Racoon dogs (Nyctereutes procyonoides) are omnivorous canids with Far Eastern origins, that were introduced into the area comprising the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, and then spread throughout Europe (Geacu, 2019). The species’ preferred habitat is water, marshland, swampland, reedbeds, and hardwood forests (Geacu, 2019).

North American raccoons (Procyon lotor) are invasive mesocarnivores and the species’ success relates to its adaptability to a wide range of habitats and resources, even becoming commensal with humans in cities and feeding on refuse. The spread of raccoons is also due to a lack of predators and competition in its size range (Salgado, 2018).

There is a higher concentration of nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) in the manure of mink compared to certain livestock. When these N and P salts are washed into water courses, aquatic plants and algae overgrow, which leads to eutrophication (Vaitkunas, 2000), and a subsequent depletion of oxygen and degradation of the ecosystem.

Discussion

Animal welfare

Numerous scientific principles and models have been developed and regularly refined regarding the consideration and assessment of animal welfare, and are in common use across a variety of situations, including research, guidelines, general practice, and the law (Warwick, 2022). Key examples of these principles and models are summarised in Table 13. Some of these principles and models (e.g., the Five Freedoms, the Five Welfare Needs, and the Three Fs [Freedoms]), are essentially designed to inspire or require that certain provisions are met and stresses prevented; thus, they relate largely to human responsibility over animals in their care. Other principles and models (e.g., Motivation and preference, the Five Domains, Positive and negative states, Sentience, and If it leaves, does it come back?), are animal-centred; thus, they relate largely to the way that animals may feel and implicit obligations to ensure they have a good life.

TABLE 13
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Table 13 Summary of frequently used animal welfare principles and model.

Captivity-stress, environmental enrichment, morbidity, and mortality

Comparison between reports summarised in Table 2 and the scientific principles and models summarised Table 13 clearly indicates that traditional safeguards for animal welfare are comprehensively not being met at fur farms.

Most studies of stress among fur farmed animals appear to have involved mink (Neogale vison). Environmental enrichment (e.g., provision of elevated ‘getaway bunks’) in mink cages, where adult females can periodically avoid offspring, have shown benefits to parent health and welfare; although apparent increased mortality was noted that could be linked to incidental invasive study observation (Dawson et al., 2013). Nevertheless, environmental enrichment in general (e.g., increased space and climbing and hiding facilities) has been found to reduce stereotypical behaviour (e.g., abnormal repetitive behaviours) in fur farmed mink (Dallaire et al., 2012; Campbell et al., 2013; Díez-León and Mason, 2016; Díez-León et al., 2016); although, enrichment did not significantly affect growth rates. Importantly, whether or not an animal actively uses a particular environmental enrichment feature, they may still benefit from its presence (Decker et al., 2023). However, space relating to cage ceiling height requirements may be relevant to specific behaviours, such as reaching for food, and individual specific preferences (Díez-León et al., 2017). Understimulation (boredom-like) states and stereotypical behaviours among fur farmed animals (although potentially not inter-related) have also been shown to rapidly reduce where environmental enrichment (e.g., extra space and toys) is improved (Polanco et al., 2021). Captivity-stress among fur farmed mink is recognised in the literature as a persistent issue warranting intervention (Wlazlo et al., 2022). One aspect of such intervention involves addition of natural tranquilisers (valerian [Valeriana officinalis L.] and passion flower [Passiflora incarnata]) extracts, which were found to be effective based on both physiological (blood cell counts and cortisol) and behavioural (fearfulness and aggression) parameters (Wlazlo et al., 2022).

Studies of foxes (Alopex lagopus) have identified genetic traits that are implied in conditions including high growth rates and body weights, leg weakness, and negative mobility, which were found to be common, and indicated that improved selective breeding is required (Kempe et al., 2010). Similarly, this same fox species has been reported to experience skeletal pathology such as carpal joint laxity and locomotor deficits that may be attributable to inadequate nutrition, housing, and genetic background (Mustonen et al., 2017). A number of health issues are endemic to fur farms that involve frequently occurring pathogens, immunocompromisation, disease risks, diseases, and injuries. For example, the proceedings of an international congress on fur farming includes at least 18 health concerns endemic to fur farming (Larsen et al., 2016).

Inevitably, mortality is a condition of fur farming because all animals are intentionally culled. However, in addition to generalisable disease-related mortalities are also those associated with outbreaks such as SARS-CoV-2, which resulted in many millions of animals (e.g., 17 million mink in Denmark alone) being culled (Linzey and Linzey, 2022). Mink are especially susceptible to SARS-CoV-2, and outbreaks have occurred in an estimated 400 mink farms in Europe and North America (Linzey and Linzey, 2022), including in Denmark, France, Greece, Italy, Lithuania, Poland, Spain, Sweden, The Netherlands, Canada, and United States, (Fenollar et al., 2021).

Whilst fur farmed dogs and cats can be categorised as domesticated animals, several species, notably mink, sable, foxes, raccoons, raccoon dogs, and coypus, should be considered wild animals. Also, other species, for example, ferrets, rabbits, and chinchillas, despite long histories of captive use, cannot be regarded as biologically domesticated (Décory, 2019; Arney, 2022). Although varying degrees of domestication and husbandry challenge may be involved among fur farmed species, all animals across the domesticated-to-wild spectrum should be regarded as having complex welfare needs, and farmed wild species may be regarded as particularly sensitive to captive conditions that essentially deprive animals of natural, or even naturalistic, environments. Further, an expert scientific committee of the European Commission has long acknowledged that fur animal species are unsuitable for farming (SCAHAW, 2001).

Zoonoses and public health

Table 3 summarises pathogens and diseases associated with fur farms and relevant species, and also indicates wide-ranging potential for zoonotic, cross-species, endemic and emergent diseases. However, based on available information persistent or significant transmission has not been established for all of these infections. For some pathogens and resultant diseases, notably SARS-CoV-2, substantial work has been done that indicates the importance of this disease in both fur farmed animals and humans. For other pathogens, for example, influenza viruses, these hold potential for devastating cross-species epidemics and pandemics, despite little current data regarding seroprevalence or manifested disease. Further research is needed to more precisely ascertain potential levels of risk associated with each known pathogen associated with fur farms. Accordingly, Table 3 presents issues of transmission by utilising keys and meanings that describe the involvements of pathogens and diseases that are confirmed as being associated with fur farmed species, indicates the species of relevance regarding these pathogens and diseases, and clarifies whether a pathogen or disease is confirmed only for the species in general or is also confirmed among fur farmed animals. For example, regarding American mink, SARS-CoV-2 is a confirmed zoonosis, is confirmed to cross species barriers (spillover), is confirmed as a reverse zoonosis, and is further confirmed among fur farmed animals. While a particular pathogen or disease that is confirmed among fur farmed animals becomes a clear issue of concern, the presence of a pathogen or disease in a species under non-farmed conditions involves potential concerns due proven occurrence and transmissibility.

Microbiome and virome pathogens of animals harbour potential in any country for the emergence of epidemics and pandemics. Numerous studies already describe major outbreaks of highly pathogenic and pandemic related animal and zoonotic diseases, two-way transmission of pathogens, and rapid dissemination within fur farming establishments. The international nature of fur farming, and of human travel generally, harbours significant – and historically demonstrated – risks of pathogenic infiltration and spillover between humans, fur farmed animals, and vice-versa causing and continuously inviting animal based, zoonotic, and public health crises. However, there appears to be little data to allow for estimate of relative risk for zoonotic outbreaks linked to fur farming. Nevertheless, significant zoonoses and public health issues are confirmed, as are itemised in Table 3, and below.

Bacteria and diseases

Fur animal epidemic necrotic pyoderma is a frequently observed disease of fur farmed mink (Neogale vison) foxes (Alopex lagopus), and raccoon dog (Nyctereutes procyonoides) (Nordgren et al., 2016a; Nordgren et al., 2016b; Nordgren, 2017). Botulism has been reported to affect several fur farmed species including mink (Neogale vison) white and blue fox (Alopex lagopus) red and silver fox (Vulpes vulpes) ferret (Mustela putorius furo), and frequently has a high mortality rate (Myllykoski et al., 2011; Anniballi et al., 2013). Chlamydia bacteria, which cause chlamydiosis, has been reported among fur farmed mink, farmed foxes, and raccoon dogs (Li et al., 2018). The study found that all foxes and raccoons, and 5% of mink harboured Chlamydia (Li et al., 2018). However, the presence of these pathogens appears to be limited to host carriers rather than disease transmission (Li et al., 2018). Escherichia coli infection has been identified among fur farmed mink (Zheng et al., 2019), and its potential importance as a ubiquitous contagion for many species is well known, although there appear to be few reports of this disease in the farming sector. E. coli infections are widespread among humans and other animal species, including fur farmed mink, and are caused by opportunistic bacteria that are commonly isolated from soil and water (OIE, 2018; Zheng et al., 2019; Turner, 2022). Studies have detected E. coli isolates in over 90% of fur farmed mink and feed, with antibiotic-resistant strains also being identified (Agga et al., 2021). Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is a widely-acknowledged ‘super-bug’ affecting human and non-human species, and has been isolated from approximately one-third of fur farmed mink (Larsen et al., 2016). Salmonellosis has been reported to significantly affect mink kits in Finland (Finnish Food Authority, 2022).

Viruses and diseases

Canine distemper virus may affect various mammalian species with high consequential mortality, and has been known to cause a severe outbreak in racoon dogs at a fur farm among vaccinated animals (Cheng et al., 2015). Aleutian disease is a highly debilitating infection associated with fur farmed mustelids (LaDouceur et al., 2015). However, outbreaks involving 5% of mink at Danish farms has been recorded (Hjulsager et al., 2016). Rabies has been identified via serology at least in relation to one farm in China, with 2.78% of animals providing positive results (Liu et al., 2015). SARS-CoV-2 (Covid 19) is an exemplar virus, disease, and pandemic with relevance to fur farming. At least 33 mammalian species have been highlighted as being at risk of contracting SARS-CoV-2 (Suarez, 2017; Akimоva et al., 2021; Goraichuk et al., 2021). Influenza virus is a highly contagious and concerning infection of fur farmed animals (notably mink), that causes high mortality (Åkerstedt et al., 2012; Sun et al., 2021). However, numerous species are also susceptible to influenza virus infection (Suarez, 2017).

Parasites and diseases

Coccidiosis has been identified in fur farmed mink, although the causal parasites may affect diverse species (Kuznetsov et al., 2021). Prevalence rates for coccidia at fur farms have been recorded at 56 – 69% (Molenaara and Jornaa, 2016; Kuznetsov et al., 2021). Increased mortality has been noted among affected mink kits and a mortality rate of 50% has been recorded among fox puppies (Klockiewicz et al., 2021). Cryptosporidiosis is caused by microparasites, and one study at a fur farm found that prevalence was low (Sengupta et al., 2021). However, another study detected variable prevalence rates for Cryptosporidium spp. of up to 31% among fur farmed raccoon dogs, foxes, and mink (Klockiewicz et al., 2021). Leishmaniasis is a significant, commonly vector-borne, cross-species and zoonotic disease that also affects fur farmed mink (Śmielewska-Łoś et al., 2003). High mortality of 38% has been recorded among mink kits (Śmielewska-Łoś et al., 2003). Microsporidiosis results in gastrointestinal disorders, malaise and can affect various fur farmed animals (Śmielewska-Łoś et al., 2003). The prevalence of the pathogens at a Chinese fur farm was found to be low to moderate at approximately 16% of foxes and 4% of raccoon dogs (Zhao et al., 2015). Neosporosis appears to affect mainly foxes where fur farms are concerned and prevalence seems to be low at approximately 4% (Śmielewska-Łoś et al., 2003). Toxoplasmosis is caused by microparasites, and is one of the most important global parasitic diseases of fur farmed animals (Klockiewicz et al., 2021). Three seroprevalence studies have found between 32% and 41% of sampled fur farmed mink to be positive (Shamaev et al., 2020), and mortality among kits as high as 90%-100% (Klockiewicz et al., 2021). Whilst various routes of transmission may be implied, contaminated offal feed is an important route (Śmielewska-Łoś et al., 2003). Trichinellosis is a parasitic disease that can affect many species, although the available information appears only to document seroprevalence at 4% among fur farm workers (Uspensky et al., 2019).

Toxins and diseases

Whilst nonmetallic and metallic deposits have been reported among fur farmed foxes, for example, carbon (C), sodium (Na), aluminium (Al), and phosphorous (P), there appears to be insufficient information to indicate the specific problems that might be associated with significant toxicoses (Filistowicz et al., 2011). However, environmental and human health implications associated with fur farm-related toxin contamination warrant further targeted research.

Contaminated feed

Contaminated feed has been indicated as a source of botulism (mink, ferrets, and foxes) (Myllykoski et al., 2011) and influenza virus (Sun et al., 2021). One study found that 10% of raccoon dogs at a farm in China that experienced fatal respiratory and gastrointestinal diseases had succumbed to H5N1 from chicken carcases (Suarez, 2017). Recycled fur farm animals as well as offal from types of livestock farms are also used as feed (Myllykoski et al., 2011), creating a potential for perpetual recontamination.

Environment

There are few studies that have looked directly at the impact of fur farming on climate change and greenhouse gas emissions (GHG). Whilst it is recognised that livestock and intensive farming make an enormous contribution to GHG and climate issues (e.g., [Garnier et al., 2019; Zubir et al., 2022]), fur farming comprises a relatively small percentage of this total and as such the issue of “intensive animal farming” is usually considered as a whole, not separated by species or use. However, the initial literature review showed that fur farming may produce disproportionately large emissions due to nitrous oxide (N2O) in manure that is a more potent greenhouse gas than CO2 (Bijleveld, 2013). Hence a further search was carried out specifically on the GHG emissions from mink manure.

During this literature review, we confirmed that fur animal manure produces disproportionately more, N, P and GHG than other species (Dubrovskis et al., 2009; Khademi et al., 2014). It is also clear that the environmental impact of fur is greater than that of other textiles, but again, fur comprises a smaller proportion of the total textile industry. Although declining in Europe and the USA, fur production is holding steady in China. The disproportionately high GHG emissions from fur bearing animals compared to livestock is an issue of concern.

The environmental impact of invasive alien species released from fur farms

Invasive alien species (IAS) are animals and plants introduced accidentally or deliberately into a natural environment where they are not normally found, with serious negative effects on either ecosystems or native species (Tsiamis et al., 2021). Invasive carnivores and mesocarnivores introduced by fur farming are opportunistic generalists, meaning they can exploit a large range of habitats and natural resources (Salgado, 2018; Weiskopf et al., 2020). Many animals were released from fur farms over the past century due to escape, deliberate release in times of low prices, and occasionally releases by animal rights groups. Invasive species originating from fur farms are often small, mobile, forms with a high reproductive rate, which allows for rapid spread. For example, American mink are now considered an invasive species in 28 European countries (Martínez-Rondán et al., 2017). The spread of such species is one of the most serious threats to ecosystems globally (Early et al., 2016; Ielmini and Sankaran, 2021).

It is clear that the release of small carnivorous fur animals into the non-native environment continues to have devastating impacts on native species, biodiversity, and the spread of disease. These animals may also cause physical damage to ecosystems by burrowing, which leads to erosion at terrestrial - aquatic boundaries (Harvey et al., 2019).

Eradication efforts are costly, often logistically difficult, and only partially successful

Whilst fur farms operate, there remain the possibilities of deliberate or accidental releases and establishment of invasive carnivores (Hollander et al., 2017); in particular because three species American mink, coypu, and muskrats, are able to opportunistically exploit a variety of habitats and diets (Liordos et al., 2017). Several studies show that the genetic diversity of feral populations is being kept high by admixture from fur farms. Until fur farms are phased out, eradication attempts for invasives will likely at best be only partially successful. Eradication of invasives is costly and often requires many years. Thus, phasing out fur farming would be the most efficient way to ensure that invasive populations are controlled or eliminated. On the Eurasian continent a fur farm ban would be of limited use because feral populations spread across borders; thus, global agreement would be the most effective approach.

The environmental impact of chemical pollution from fur farming

Fur is a natural material subject to decomposition; thus, chemical treatment is necessary for its preservation (Linzey and Linzey, 2022). These chemicals are toxic to the environment and human health (Linzey and Linzey, 2022).

Toxic chemicals from processing fur

Often, the environmental processing of fur and leather are considered together in the literature. Situations where it is possible to evaluate the chemicals used in, particularly, fur processing are shown in Table 12.

Eutrophication from manure

Eutrophication can be defined as the extraordinarily high nutrient enrichment of an aquatic ecosystem, occurring when nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) cause accelerated and abnormal growth of autotrophic organisms, such as plants and algae (Cervantes-Astorga et al., 2021). The increase in respiration from the breakdown of this plant matter by microorganisms depletes the oxygen in the water, leading, ultimately to die offs of heterotrophic organisms such as fishes. In extreme cases the water body can no longer support life (Bailey et al., 2012).

Although fur farms make up a small proportion of nutrient run offs in terms of global numbers their effects are disproportionate because the manure is much higher in N and P than certain mammalian livestock (Vaitkunas, 2000; Van Bruggen et al., 2012). Furbearers are often kept outdoors with the pens sitting on the ground, so the manure is more easily able to leach into the soil than with traditionally housed livestock (Harding, 1979). Most studies on eutrophication in relation to fur farming have been done on the Lakes of Southwest Nova Scotia, Canada, where there are 1.4 million mink on approximately 40 mink farms, located near the headwater of the Carleton River. There are many eutrophic and hypereutrophic lakes in the area including Nowlans, Placides, and Hourglass Lakes (Taylor, 2009; Taylor, 2010). Other areas of concern include the Baltic Sea, which suffers from eutrophication due to human activities in the area including fur farming. The literature reviewed indicates that fur farms are often clustered in particular areas, causing localised eutrophication of watercourses. Small water bodies with low turnover are likely to be more affected.

One-health

The term ‘one-health’ summarises a paradigm where the environment, animals, and people are considered to be interconnected (Rabozzi et al., 2012; Cantas and Suer, 2014; Broom, 2022b; CDC, 2022; Jacobs et al., 2022). The fur farming sector impacts animal welfare, public health, and environmental issues; thus, the one-health paradigm can be regarded as a relevant coalescent theme within this review. The term ‘one-welfare’ summarises the relationship between animal welfare, human wellbeing, and the physical and social environment (García Pinillos, 2021).

Captivity-stress can directly impact animal welfare and result in potentially increased susceptibility to disease and pathogen-shedding, which in turn may increase zoonotic transmission. Anthropogenic habitat loss, and bottlenecking of species into smaller and less stable ecosystems, may promote pathogen spillover, outbreaks of disease, and public health threats (Jones et al., 2008; Allen et al., 2017). SARS-CoV-2 is an example of where habitat loss, highly restricted confinement of animals, large-scale fur farming, and human interactions may have acted concomitantly to produce severe outbreaks and consequences, leading to calls for a future one-health approach to investigate such diseases (Goraichuk et al., 2021). Moreover, at least 19 major epidemics or pandemics with links to use of animals have emerged since 1918, including, for example, Spanish flu, human immunodeficiency virus/acquired immune deficiency syndrome (HIV/AIDS), avian influenza H5N1, swine flu, SARS-CoV-1, Middle-East respiratory syndrome, SARS-CoV-2, and others. Collectively, these issues have resulted in hundreds of millions of infections and millions of deaths among humans (Warwick and Steedman, 2021). As indicated earlier, some of these major global pandemics, for example, avian influenza H5N1 and SARS-CoV-2, involve fur farms, and are subject to cross-species infections and spillover human zoonoses events. The World Health Organisation concluded that the risk of transmission of SARS-CoV-2 from fur farms to susceptible wildlife populations is considered ‘high’ in Europe and ‘moderate’ in Asia and the Americas, and that “spillover from fur farm animals to humans poses a serious public health and socio-economic threat and requires a One Health approach to manage” (GLEWS+, 2021).

In issues such as fur farming, individual themes, such as animal welfare and health, zoonoses and public health, and environment and ecology, can be clearly identified, although these elements are overall inseperable. Accordingly, their amelioration or resolution may require a multidisciplinary approach (Rabozzi et al., 2012; Cantas and Suer, 2014; García Pinillos, 2021; Gorbach, 2021; Jo et al., 2021; Broom, 2022a; Broom, 2022b). Part of this multidisciplinary approach, requires objective considerations that are less human-centred, recognise moral obligations to animals that are used for human purposes, and ackowledge that effects of sector practices should not simply be presently sustainable, but also for the long-term future (Broom, 2022a; Broom, 2022b).

People increasingly reject production methods that are either immediately harmful or unsustainable. For example, public exposure to inhumane fur production practices has resulted in people dismissing future acquisitions (Global Times, 2017; Material Innovation Initiative, 2021). However, public attitudes and responses to information about fur farming can follow targeted messaging whether for or against the practice (Lee, 2014). Ultimately, it is in the interests of businesses to act to pre-empt product boycotts, and constantly review practices with an eye for problems related to animal welfare and health, public health and safety, and environmental harm individually, as well as one-health issues generally. Failure to address practices that the public find unacceptable may cause businesses to become unsustainable (Broom, 2022a; Broom, 2022b).

Fur farming involves all the acknowledged elements (animal welfare, human health, and environment) associated with the remit of the one-health (and one-welfare) paradigm. Accordingly, the issues outlined herein that are associated with fur farming, especially those of a problematic nature, are multifactorial. Whilst they can be considered individually, they are also entangled. Consistent with the one-health paradigm, whilst improvements to problematic situations of fur farming may be achievable in some respects, overall resolution of the significant concerns presented in this report require actions to address all issues.

Legal and governance

In the European Union (EU), all animals are theoretically protected as ‘sentient beings’ in the Lisbon Treaty (2007) (EUR-Lex, 2023a). Welfare legislation applying to fur farms includes Council Directive 98/58/EC (1998), the European Convention (1999) recommendation concerning fur animals, and Council Regulation 1099/2009 (2009). Nevertheless, the current EU regulatory framework is not adequately safeguarding animal welfare in fur farms (Gremmen, 2014). The European Union has banned imports of certain fur products for animal welfare reasons, such as cat and dog fur from China, wild caught animal fur from countries where steel leg hold traps are legal (EUR-Lex, 2023b), as well as seal fur from Canada and Norway. European Union-based fur farms are also covered by other EU regulatory frameworks, such as the EU Common Agricultural Policy, as well as member specific government legislation, recommendations, and codes of practice issued by the European Fur Breeders Association, and other national fur federations. Compliance to existing welfare regulations and codes of practice throughout the EU is varied, and not all farmed species are covered (Gremmen, 2014).

In China there is no national legal protection for animal welfare. Industry-led fur farming guidelines covering management, welfare, disease, and environmental protection exist (International Fur Federation, 2023), although as in other fur producing nations, lack of compliance is reported throughout the industry (ActAsia, 2019). Despite the lack of nationwide animal welfare laws in China, Chinese citizens ranked “environmental protection, sustainable development, and animal protection” as the most important social issues to them (Sinclair and Phillips, 2017).

Canada has no federal laws specifically governing fur-farms. The National Farm Animal Care Council’s industry-led code of practice for fur farmed mink has been enforced by particular provinces (McSheffrey, 2015). Individual states, such as British Columbia and Nova Scotia, which are historically large producers of fur, have their own regulations and guidelines for fur farming (Province of Nova Scotia, 2013; Province of British Columbia, 2015), and from April 2023 mink farming is prohibited in British Columbia (The Fur-Bearers, 2023). However, as for Europe, there is a lack of consistency and compliance across Canada in regards to fur farming regulations (McCague Borlack LLP, 2019). Fur farms appear to be declining in Canada, with 347 being reported in 2011 and 97 reported in 2021 (We Animals Media, 2022), and three quarters of Canadians support the proposed national ban on fur farming (Bill C-247) introduced in 2022 (The Fur-Bearers, 2022).

The United States has no federal law governing fur farms, although there is a ban on the trade in cat and dog fur, as well as a Fur Products Labelling Act (Peterson, 2010) and the Marine Mammals Protection Act prohibits trade in fur products from protected wild mammals (NOAA Fisheries, 2023). Individual states can impose restrictions and codes of conduct regarding fur farming, and notably California has banned the sale and manufacturing of all new fur produce within the State since January 2023 (California Legislative Information, 2019).

As outlined previously, fur farming involves multifactorial problematic issues regarding animal welfare, public health, environment, and ethics. These issues individually and collectively attract strong concerns and criticisms, and by direct extension also invite negative reputational impacts for commercial, consumer, and governmental actors (Müller et al., 2021). Thus, the reputational health of sectors within a nation can also be considered negatively affected by harmful industries and any parties to such commodification of nature. Pro-fur co-actors undertake endeavours to dissociate their activities from reported harms and related public perceptions using, for example, tactical and strategic marketing messages involving greenwashing, assurance branding techniques, self-produced surveys, messaging regarding responsible and sustainable practices, and emphasising employment and economic benefits (e.g., [Noah, and Animalia, 2015; Rosenqvist, 2017; Müller et al., 2021]). For example, the fur industry suggests that its use of animal byproducts indicates the sustainable use within the sector (Gremmen, 2014).

Concerns regarding animal welfare have led the fur industry to develop and promote dedicated assessment protocols for farmed animals, in particular blue foxes (Vulpes lagopus), silver foxes (Vulpes vulpes), and mink (Neogale vison) (Mononen et al., 2012). Promoted as the WelFur Project, this approach utilises established assessment principles and criteria (i.e., Welfare Quality®) to monitor on-farm welfare using 12 categories relevant to physical, behavioural, mental, and housing conditions (Botreau et al., 2012; Mononen et al., 2012; Møller et al., 2015; WelFur, 2015). The WelFur Project appears to successfully identify and document persistent animal welfare problems (Møller et al., 2015; WelFur, 2015). However, the effectiveness of the WelFur Project has been criticised for its adherence to industry best practice models, which have been considered as essentially compounding unacceptable minimalist standards, rather than promoting animal welfare as a central requirement and objective, and thus does not prevent poor welfare (Fur Free Alliance, 2020; Linzey and Linzey, 2022). Some studies indicate that consumers preferred the idea of fur products from farmed rather than trapped wild animals (Sun, 2013). Despite the various fur farming-associated promotional messages and management initiatives, public disapproval for fur production methods largely persists due to the aforesaid problems. For example, in Finland, which has a long history of fur farming, a recent initiative showed strong public support calling on the government to ban commerce (Laatu, 2013), and a UK survey found that approximately four-fifths of respondents opposed the fur industry, and 78% supported a legal prohibition on fur farming (Halliday and McCulloch, 2022).

Major fashion brands have banned the use of fur products (e.g., Burberry, Gucci, and Prada) as have fashion shows such as Stockholm’s Fashion Week and London Fashion Week. The increasing number of people wishing to avoid products that involve animal suffering has led to a surge of companies purely focusing on “next-Gen materials” that mimic animal products such as fur (Material Innovation Initiative, 2021).

As indicated previously, bans on fur farming are variously in place and under wider consideration. Investigations into trade bans on both wild-caught and farmed wildlife and derived products have reported such measures to be highly effective, ‘gold-standard’, protocols especially when combined with strong enforcement (e.g., [Toland et al., 2012; Reino et al., 2017; D’Cruze et al., 2020a; D’Cruze et al., 2020b; Green et al., 2020; Toland et al., 2020; Peng and Broom, 2021]). Another analysis of prohibitions for wildlife trades indicated that bans are an important preventative approach to avoiding pathogenic spillovers and curtailing potential pandemics (Fischer, 2021).

Brief comparison of fur farming with livestock farming

In terms of scale, fur farming involves approximately 85 to 100 million animals annually (Pluda, 2020; Halliday and McCulloch, 2022; Linzey and Linzey, 2022). In comparison, terrestrial livestock farming for protein consumption involves an estimated 74 billion animals annually (Our world in data, 2020). Whilst overall volume of fur farmed animals is relatively low compared with chicken production, herein the fur industry is being compared against the largest relevant sector.

Animal welfare

An issue of some compatibility with fur farming may be indoor intensive and semi-intensive factory production methods, such as for chickens (Gallus gallus domesticus). Globally, 70 billion chickens are factory farmed and consumed annually (Our world in data, 2020). Clearly, this volume is substantially greater than animals farmed for fur. Animal welfare concerns for factory-farmed chickens are considerable, with common issues of mental stress, abnormal behaviour, aggression-related injuries, limb fractures, disease, and death all being reported in the scientific literature (D’Silva, 2006; Friedrich and Wilson, 2015; Martin, 2015; Moen and Devolder, 2022). Accordingly, in terms of scale, factory farming of chickens might be regarded as a greater concern. In terms of animal welfare, these might be considered broadly compatible in several respects.

Zoonoses and public health

Zoonotic and public health issues of fur farming and chicken farming share several commonalities, but also several differences. For example, of the 18 reported zoonotic pathogens and diseases associated with fur farmed animals (Table 3), 10 issues [Chlamydia spp. (Marchino et al., 2022), Clostridium botulinum (Souillard et al., 2021), Escherichia coli (Azza et al., 2018), Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (Benrabia et al., 2020), Salmonella spp. (Duc et al., 2019), Influenza A virus (Gobbo et al., 2022), Eimeria (Mesa-Pineda et al., 2021), Cryptosporidium spp. (Lin et al., 2022), Leishmania infantum (Alexander et al., 2002), and Microsporidia spp. (Reetz et al., 2002)], are also widely reported in chicken farming. However, eight issues of reported zoonotic pathogens and diseases associated with fur farmed animals (Arcanobacterium phocae, canine distemper virus, carnivore amdoparvovirus/Parvovirus, Lissavirus, SARS-CoV-2, Neospora caninum, Toxoplasma gondii, and Trichinella nativa) appear not to be associated with the comparative example (chickens), although several of these pathogens have been used during experimental infections of chickens. Accordingly, fur farming does involve several specific pathogenic threats related to the sector. In addition, fur farming mostly involves carnivorous species, which may harbour greater numbers of more potential pathogens than chickens and other obligate herbivores and obligate omnivores due to the diets of these species including other animals (Warwick et al., 2012).

Environment

In terms of environmental impacts, on issues relating to greenhouse gas emissions, toxic contamination, and eutrophication, fur farming might be considered a significant but less substantial contributor than mainstream livestock farming. However, pollution from, for example, ammonia run-off and other powerful contaminants from fur farms may be less monitored and controlled than other use sectors, highly pervasive, and involve disproportionately greater environmental contamination. The issue of invasive species is highly significant, with the introduction of wild animal species and associated ecological harm being frequently associated with fur farming, with disproportionately problematic consequences.

General comment

In terms of scale, on most animal welfare, public health, and environmental issues, fur farming may overall reasonably be assumed to represent a smaller, although significant, contributor to these recognised harms than the main livestock industries. However, product justification should be considered a key over-arching issue concerning relevant harms. Such consideration requires balancing the importance of non-essential products (fur-based luxury or casual wear clothing) versus products that feed society. In this balancing scenario, manifestly fur-based products are disproportionately harmful.

Conclusions

At least 35 nations are known to have farmed animals for fur since 1917. In recent years, welfare assessment methods have been developed to objectively better protect animals from harms. However, even using welfare assessment criteria developed in association with the fur farming sector, there remains clear industry and independently reported evidence of persistent significant and major animal welfare problems, including psychological stress, abnormal behaviour, environmental deprivation, understimulation, co-occupant aggression, self-harming injuries, insanitary conditions, disease, husbandry-related morbidities and mortalities, and human imposed physical abuse and inhumanities. Despite numerous efforts to systematically monitor and control animal welfare at fur farms, practices continue to fail to meet the normal scientific principles and models used in other animal welfare situations. At least 17 nations have introduced total or partial prohibitions within their borders, primarily for animal welfare reasons. Manifestly, prohibitions are accepted by numerous national governments as primary measures for controlling fur farming and preventing stress or suffering among animals. In our view, fur farming is incompatible with acceptable standards for animal welfare, and documented concerns provide strong grounds to support historical and proposed bans on fur farming.

In our view, the limited available data does not currently indicate that fur farms are major sources of zoonotic epidemics and pandemics. However, there are many well documented examples of major epidemics and pandemics emerging suddenly from animal production and handling sectors with devastating consequences, sometimes as a result of highly subtle triggers. Thus, there are no grounds for complacency towards fur farming as a possible further source of globally significant disease. Cross-species transmission within both global and fur farm contexts has been well demonstrated with the advent of SARS-CoV-2, and many possible spillover events involving diverse pathogens can be considered as potentially emergent at any one time. Epidemics and pandemics could arise from single contact episodes. Centres at which large numbers of animals of known vulnerable backgrounds are held can be considered important hubs for emergent infections that are zoonotic, cross-species, and reverse zoonotic in nature; fur farms represent hubs for multi-factorial transmission. Whilst evidentially limited, we consider spillover risks for zoonotic disease related to fur farming to be relevant because the transmission routes are clearly established, and a precautionary principle should be applied to control. Manifestly, strong examples exist where fur farms can act as infection hubs, and our main concern resides in the ‘what if’ factor (Warwick, 2020) - i.e., that fur farms harbour clear potential for rapid emergence of epidemic and pandemic disease. Accordingly, application of the precautionary principle should be a primary consideration in decisions on fur farming in respect of public health, which could justify further prohibitions.

The environmental problems caused by fur farming are significant, and relate mainly to invasive species, toxic chemical release and eutrophication of water bodies. Eutrophication is a problem in areas where many fur farms are clustered such as Nova Scotia or the Baltic Sea. It is anticipated that as demand for fur decreases, these environmental issues will eventually reduce. However, with regard to invasive species, even reduction or abolition of fur farming will not resolve inherent problems. Combined responses, including humane eradication of already established populations, are used to control invasive organisms, although there are significant logistical, financial, and ethical barriers to this approach. Most efforts so far have been aimed at control by trapping, which is a labour-intensive method. For example, a team of volunteers was required for three years to remove 376 mink from 4,081 mi2 in Scotland (Lambin et al., 2017). Establishing control or eradication programmes without addressing the existence of fur farms and their releases, is largely counterproductive because it has been shown that new releases provide additional recruits and increased genetic diversity to established populations. Genetic diversity makes invasive populations more resilient to environmental change and more adaptable, for example, in colonising new areas with increases in their invasive potential (Alda et al., 2013). However, the species’ high adaptability and potential to cross land borders and establish new populations (Rodrigues et al., 2015), means that unilateral eradication attempts would only be partially effective unless international cooperation was agreed. Hence, to date, most successful eradications have occurred on Islands (Lambin et al., 2017). In our view, the comprehensive revisions regarding practices inherent to fur farming that would be necessary to significantly improve the identified environmental problems are incompatible with the sustainable continuance of the sector.

Recommendations

Based on the results of the literature review we provide the following recommendations:

1. Animal welfare issues. Complete prohibition of fur farming is required in order to resolve inherent animal welfare problems.

2. Zoonoses and public health issues. Intensive government mandated regular inspection and screening should be adopted for all animals and workers at fur farms for the presence of relevant (zoonotic or cross-species) pathogens, diseases, or toxic contaminants. Using the precautionary principle, where any farm manifests an outbreak or occurrence of any relevant pathogen, disease or toxic contaminant, the facility should face compulsory permanent closure.

3. Environmental issues. Existing fur farms should, under mandatory governmental conditions, adopt proper management and treatment of manure (e.g., with biochar) including potential use for agricultural fertiliser in controlled settings away from water bodies. Containment of manure must be so controlled that it does not escape into the environment. Strict government approved biosecurity measures should be implemented to control escapes of potentially invasive species.

4. Wider awareness should be raised regarding animal welfare, zoonoses and public health (including biosecurity), and environmental issues and risks associated with fur farming in order to further reduce product demands.

5. International cooperation should be increased to develop consensus for a legal framework on fur farming consistent with the one health umbrella.

Author contributions

Concept and design: CW and RG; Literature research: RG and CW; Analysis and writing: CW, AP, CS, and RG. All authors contributed to the article and approved the submitted version.

Funding

This project was funded by ACTAsia, which had no input regarding design, analysis, conclusions, recommendations, or other directional role in this report.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that the research was conducted in the absence of any commercial or financial relationships that could be construed as a potential conflict of interest.

Publisher’s note

All claims expressed in this article are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of their affiliated organizations, or those of the publisher, the editors and the reviewers. Any product that may be evaluated in this article, or claim that may be made by its manufacturer, is not guaranteed or endorsed by the publisher.

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Keywords: animal welfare, zoonoses, public health, cross-species transmission, greenwashing, carbon emissions, invasive species

Citation: Warwick C, Pilny A, Steedman C and Grant R (2023) One health implications of fur farming. Front. Anim. Sci. 4:1249901. doi: 10.3389/fanim.2023.1249901

Received: 29 June 2023; Accepted: 28 September 2023;
Published: 25 October 2023.

Edited by:

E. Tobias Krause, Friedrich-Loeffler-Institute, Germany

Reviewed by:

Jan Vaarten, Federation of Veterinarians of Europe, Belgium
Shamik Polley, West Bengal University of Animal and Fishery Sciences, India
Klaas Dietze, Friedrich-Loeffler-Institute, Germany

Copyright © 2023 Warwick, Pilny, Steedman and Grant. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

*Correspondence: Clifford Warwick, cliffordwarwick@gmail.com

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