Cunning and Condemned

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Finland began culling 120,000 foxes and mink this week, as Europe’s largest fox fur producer is attempting to prevent an outbreak of avian flu on its farms, Euronews reported.

Health officials said Wednesday the cull has already been carried out on 10 farms and an order has been issued to cover another 13 farms. The country has around 400 fur farms with around 1.3 million animals, mainly mink and foxes.

The decision comes after authorities recently identified a number of H5N1 avian influenza cases among larids – a family that includes seagulls and terns – in Finland. The first cases in fur farms were spotted last month.

For nearly two years, Europe has been handling its worst outbreak of avian flu. North and South America have also seen a spike in cases.

The World Health Organization warned last month that the increase of H5N1 among mammals could make it easier for the virus to spread to humans.

Still, Finnish officials noted that the epidemic appears to be “calming down” as gulls and seagulls begin their migration southwards.

Even so, the situation has revived calls from animal rights groups to ban the fur industry in Finland, which produces nearly a million pelts annually.

In a similar situation, Denmark descended into a political crisis after the government controversially ordered the slaughter of around 17 million mink to prevent mutations of the coronavirus during the height of the pandemic.

A Danish parliamentary commission called the cull order illegal and accused government officials of acting “reprehensibly,” the New York Times noted.

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