Local pollution

Intensive fur farms produce tons of manure, producing greenhouse emissions, nutrients flows, loss of biodiverstiy and attracting armies of flies. Waste runoff from intensive fur factory farms is a major pollution problem, contaminating soil and waterways.

Waste runoff

Fur farms worldwide are consistently reported to violate environmental regulations. Manure, extra feed and carcasses get thrown into wetlands while run-off from fur farms seeps into watersheds.

In 2015, following complaints from Lithuanian residents of the intensively fur farmed district Siauliai, 31 local fur production facilities were inspected. Alarmingly, each of the 31 fur farms were found in breach of waste disposal regulations and causing severe ecological damage. A follow-up investigation in the same region in 2016, reported 12 out of 19 fur factory farms in violation of environmental regulations.

In Poland, audits conducted in 2011 and 2014, by the Polish governmental Supreme Audit Office (NIK), reported 15 out of 20 farms in breach of environmental requirements, such as provisions of the Water Resources Act, causing a direct risk of groundwater contamination.

Water pollution

Nutrients in manure runoff from fur factory farms leads to growth of toxic algea in waterways, causing loss of biodiversity and rendering lakes unswimmable. When algae blooms occur, it limits the amount of oxygen for other aquatic species and causes dead zones.

Mink farms are the most likely source of water quality problems in nine Canadian lakes in western Nova Scotia, according to an Acadia University report released by the province’s Environment Department in 2012. According to the report, by Mike Brylinsky of the Acadia Centre for Estuarine Research, water quality surveys carried out between 2008 and 2012 showed lakes within the watersheds to be seriously degraded:

“primarily with respect to high nutrient over-enrichment resulting in the development of high algal concentrations.”

Exploitation

To increase low-cost production, the fur industry targets countries where environmental regulations are weak and enforcement is less strict. Johan Kaarens, one of the first mink breeders to invest in Poland in 2000, typically said:

‘People accept you here. In The Netherlands you are starting to feel more and more like a criminal.’

Foreign investors set out to exploit countries with poor economies, such as Poland, Latvia, Bulgaria and Lithuania, by building intensive fur factory farms in rural areas, degrading local ecosystems and village life.

Over 90% of fur produced in Poland is exported to foreign markets. Barbara Skubiszewska, resident of Bronowice, a rural village where one of Europe’a largest mink fur farms was built in 2015, said:

‘Polish women can’t afford these coats. What we can afford, though, is to smell the stench coming from the farm, and to put up with flies.’

Photos

More facts

The impacts of the mink industry on freshwater lakes in Nova Scotia (2011)
A study by the David Suzuki Foundation.

The attitudes of local residents towards fur farms in Poland
Independant study by ZOBSiE, Polish center for Social and Economic research. Commisioned by Open Cages, Fur Free Alliance and the ALbert Schweitzer Foundation