Fur industry in Bulgaria loses court case against mink ban
In Animal ethics,Animal welfare,Environment & health,Fur Farming,Our work - fur farming,Recent News

Fur industry in Bulgaria loses court case against mink ban

SOFIA, 1 JULY 2024 – The Administrative Court of Sofia City has issued a decision on the case regarding the ban on the import and breeding of American mink in Bulgaria. The court accepted as groundless the appeal of the only operating mink fur farm in Bulgaria. The legal process was started in 2022, a few months after the Minister of Environment and Waters issued an order banning the import and breeding of the “American Mink” species. The reason for the order is the danger this invasive, non-native species poses to biodiversity.

The Sofia City Administrative Court rejected the mink farm’s appeal against the order issued by the Ministry of Environment and Water to ban the import and breeding of the “American mink” species in Bulgaria. The court’s decision can be appealed to the Supreme Administrative Court.

American mink (the species farmed for its fur) can negatively impact native animal species and even drive some to extinction. Behind this opinion stand more than 100 scientists and experts who submitted opinions in support of the ban on the import and breeding of American mink. Their support for the ban was strongly expressed during the course of the case.

The mink fur farm near the village of Mazherito, Stara Zagora, has a breeding capacity of about 130,000 American mink. Over the years of operation of the farm, official recordings have been filed about over 100 escaped animals. The number of unrecorded mink escapes is unknown. Complaints of mink attacks on domestic animals are a common problem that torments the local residents living near the farm. There are images and video shots of mink being run over by cars on the road, as well as of animals walking around the center of the city of Stara Zagora. The invasive mammal was also spotted in the river near the town of Galabovo, 30 km from the farm.

As well as endangering biodiversity, fur farms have drawn public wrath for the cruel conditions in which the animals are raised and killed. Minks are kept in narrow and dirty wire cages and, in order to preserve the integrity of their fur, they are killed in gas chambers. In 2021, during an inspection of the mink farm near the village of Mazherito, the Bulgarian Ministry of Agriculture and Food reported a number of biosecurity violations, unsatisfactory hygienic conditions, decomposing carcasses of dead animals, as well as mink escaped from their cages.

Petya Altimirska, chair of CAAI (Campaigns and Activism for Animals in the Industry), who since 2017 has been campaigning for the ban of fur farms in Bulgaria, says:

“We welcome the completely fair decision of the court to reject the appeal of the mink breeders. In recent years, scientists have proven that the invasive nature of the “American mink” is a serious threat to local biodiversity. In addition, the American mink is the species in which significant susceptibility to infection with various zoonoses is noted. Last year, an outbreak of COVID-19 occurred among the minks on the farm near Stara Zagora. Recently, bird flu has become increasingly common in mink farms too. Similar outbreaks in other countries have caused fur farms to be closed. This is how cruel and completely unnecessary activity is being stopped.”

The mink breeders have the right to appeal the decision within 14 days of its announcement before the Supreme Administrative Court. A possible loss in the second instance would practically end the existence of mink farms in Bulgaria.


Fur industry in Bulgaria loses court case against mink ban