UPDATE: On 5 August 2022 the ban was suspended by the Bulgarian Supreme Administrative Court due to an appeal.
SOFIA, 2 JUNE 2022 – Yesterday, the Bulgarian Environment Minister Borislav Sandov announced a ban on the breeding and import of American Mink. The ban, which has been introduced on the grounds of protecting native biodiversity, will lead to the closure of Bulgaria’s last remaining fur farm.
The prohibition on mink fur farming will enter into force after its publication in the State Gazette. Sandov, Minister of Environment and Water, said:
“After the public discussion and the opinions on all the comments received, I signed the final order for this ban. The conditions on the only farm in Bulgaria are unfavourable, and it has allowed minks to enter wildlife areas in recent years and cause damage.“
The legal basis for this legislation is Bulgaria’s Biodiversity Act, according to which the Environment Minister may impose restrictions on the breeding and import of non-native animal, plant and fungal species, if their accidental release into the wild endangers native species. The draft order went through one month of public consultations, which ended on 10th May 2022.
The damage to biodiversity caused by American mink, which have escaped from fur farms, had become a significant problem in Bulgaria. Since the introduction of fur factory farms, feral populations of American mink have been found in more than 20 European countries and can pose a serious threat to native fauna, posing a particular risk to the survival of the few remaining European mink populations. The severe impact on populations of native species caused by fur farm escapees has led several countries to end or limit fur farming.
The Bulgarian animal rights organisation CAAI welcomes this historic breakthrough following years of tireless campaigning. In 2018 and in 2019, CAAI along with the Fur Free Alliance organised the Make Fur History exhibition in Sofia, exposing the facts on how real fur is produced and why bans on fur farming are needed.
Petya Altimirska, head of CAAI, said:
“We thank Minister Sandov for this really important and very useful decision for the nature of Bulgaria. This is a decision based on scientific and expert data with regard to the damage caused by the breeding of American mink. At the same time, it is a solution that will prevent significant damage to native wildlife and end the suffering of millions of American mink that are bred for their fur under cruel conditions! This Order is so important to nature and the animals.”
The end of mink fur production in Bulgaria is a huge victory for animals, which reflects international developments. Due to ethical, environmental and welfare concerns, today, over 20 European countries have introduced legislation to end or limit fur factory farming.
As societal and ethical concerns about the welfare of animals on fur farms continue to grow, a European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI) was launched last month to call for a ‘Fur Free Europe’. Within a mere two weeks, this ECI already gathered over 100.000 signatures from EU citizens who want to put an end to fur farming.
Joh Vinding, chairman of the Fur Free Alliance, said:
“The Fur Free Alliance applauds the Bulgarian Minister’s decision to ban mink farming in the country. The end of mink production is a victory for animal welfare, as well as for native biodiversity. We hope that the Bulgarian government will seriously consider extending this legislation to also ensure that all fur production is eliminated in the country.”
Bulgaria bans breeding and import of American mink