17th July 2023 - Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza, commonly referred to as bird flu, has been confirmed across four fur farms in southern Finland, raising the total up to five, all of which are currently being investigated by the Finnish Food Authority.
FOUR PAWS, the global animal welfare organisation, said that the outbreak was part of a wider picture across Europe and a “major cause for concern” for animal welfare and public health across the region.
This follows last week's story of five dogs and a cat in Italy being diagnosed, while last month there was the diagnosis of 24 sick or dead cats in Poland with Bird Flu, with key European health officials now stepping in to help with the situation and control its spread. At the same time, just off the coast in the United Kingdom, 330 seagulls' carcasses were found on the local beaches after bird flu was officially detected at a nearby farm.
Thomas Pietsch, FOUR PAWS Head of Wild Animals in Entertainment and Textiles, said, “Bird flu is a looming pandemic. We have not learnt our lesson post COVID-19. Fur farms have no place in a modern society or modern economy; it risks not only the health of the animals but the public at large. With 75% of emerging human infectious diseases coming from animals, scientists and experts are highlighting the link between exploiting animals and increasing pandemic risks."
“With the COVID-19, since 2020, 450 mink farms in the EU reported COVID-19 outbreaks amongst their animals and about 20 million mink had to be culled to protect human health, yet this cruel practice has been allowed to continue.”
Thomas Pietsch, FOUR PAWS Head of Wild Animals in Entertainment and Textiles
Currently, 19 Member States have already totally or partially banned fur farming on grounds of animal welfare and public health.
Last month, The Fur Free Europe European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI), which aims to achieve an EU-wide ban on keeping and killing of animals for the sole purpose of fur production, officially surpassed the one million validated signatures that are requirement for a potential law change with 1,502,319 signatures submitted to the European Commission.
Pietsch added, “Only last month, we saw the call to ban fur farms by a majority of Member States during the last session of the Agriculture and Fisheries Council which has also been publicly supported by a number of members of the European Parliament.
“Later this year the European Commission will announce its full review and revision of all of the animal welfare legislation and at the top of its list should be the outright ban of fur farms and production across the EU. Bird flu is rife across Europe and must be treated with the severity that the disease needs to be.”
In 2021/22, HPAI, reached unprecedented geographic spread across continents and record outbreaks, with 50 million poultry culled over that time in Europe alone.
The European Union is one of the main regions for fur production globally. Every year millions of animals (mainly mink, foxes and raccoon dogs) are legally confined in small wire mesh cages and killed to produce unnecessary, easily replaceable fur articles.
FOUR PAWS on social media
FOUR PAWS is the global animal welfare organisation for animals under direct human influence, which reveals suffering, rescues animals in need and protects them.
Founded in 1988 in Vienna by Heli Dungler and friends, the organisation advocates for a world where humans treat animals with respect, empathy and understanding. The sustainable campaigns and projects of FOUR PAWS focus on companion animals including stray dogs and cats, animals in fashion, farm animals, and wild animals – such as bears, big cats, and orangutans – kept in inappropriate conditions as well as in disaster and conflict zones.
With offices in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Kosovo, the Netherlands, Switzerland, South Africa, Thailand, Ukraine, the UK, the USA, and Vietnam as well as sanctuaries for rescued animals in eleven countries, FOUR PAWS provides rapid help and long-term solutions. www.four-paws.org.au