EU-rapport kritisk til pels
Det presiseres i rapporten at komiteen ikke har tatt stilling til hvorvidt oppdrett av rev og mink bør forbys eller ikke. Komiteens anbefalinger om bedre dyrevern innebærer dermed ikke at komiteen kan gå god for at pelsfarming er etisk forsvarlig.
Oppdrettsforholdene for pelsdyr er svært like over hele Europa, og EU-rapporten er dermed relevant også for Norge. En norsk pelsdyrforsker var representert i EUs vitenskapelige komite, og rapporten inneholder ca. 40 kildehenvisninger fra norsk forskning på pelsdyr.
Komiteen påpeker at mink og rev er i svært liten grad domestiserte og derfor er som ville dyr å regne:
"The report examines the extent to which the species used for fur production can be regarded as domesticated. It is concluded that these species, in comparison with other farm animals, have been subjected to relatively little active selection, except with respect to fur characteristics. There has thus been only a limited amount of selection for tameness and adaptability to captive environments."
Komiteen påpeker at dagens driftsformer påfører rev og mink store restriksjoner i deres adferd. Dette er negativt for dyrevelferd og dyrevern:
"With respect to the welfare of mink, the report concludes that there is an average kit mortality of about 20%, and a yearly adult mortality of 2-5%. There is usually a low level of morbidity due to infectious disease, but gastric ulcers, kidney abnormalities and tooth decay can sometimes be common. Stereotypies, largely locomotor in nature, are widespread on mink farms. In the largest study conducted, the number of affected animals varied between 31 and 85% of the females on different farms. Stereotypies have a complex causation, where one important aspect is the housing environment. Furthermore, mink in farm cages may show sucking or biting of their tail fur, and biting of other parts of their pelt. Self mutilation of tail or limb tissue occurs, but its prevalence is unknown. In experimental conditions, farm mink show strong preferences for the opportunity to swim. The report concludes that the typical mink cage impairs mink welfare because it does not provide for important needs.
With respect to the welfare of foxes, the report concludes that there is an annual mortality rate for juvenile and adult foxes on fox farms of about 5%. Failure to produce and rear litters of cubs has been reported to occur in 18-45 % of farmed foxes. However, significant failure to produce and rear litters also occurs in wild foxes, and hence the extent to which this problem can be solved is not clear. Abnormal behaviours such as exaggerated fear responses, infanticide, stereotypies and pelt-biting are described in farmed foxes but not well quantified. The report concludes that the typical fox cage does not provide for important needs of foxes."
Komiteen påpeker at mink har et sterkt behov for badevann:
"In experimental conditions, farm mink show strong preferences for the opportunity to swim. An adequate fur-farming system for provision of swimming water has yet to be designed. Mink are good divers, too: they have been observed retrieving crabs from water over 7 m deep, and the efficiency of their dives is enhanced by their tendency to surface by pushing up from the bottom, so as to glide to the top with a minimum of limb movement. Mink have many adaptations to swimming and diving that are behavioural; for example, they seem to find retrieving objects from water inherently reinforcing, although, as it has been previously said, the mink's coat is not well adapted for prolonged submersion; heat starts to be lost from the minks' body after about 5 minutes of submersion, and mink have no skeletal adaptation for an aquatic lifestyle. However, they do have some other adaptations, including their pelt structures (see above); a vasoconstriction mechanism in their paws which helps reduce heat loss underwater; an ability, absent in solely terrestrial mammals such as pigs and humans, to detect hypoxia (Raj and Mason 1999); the presence of short, stiff whiskers which act like those of the otter, aiding fish capture through their sensitivity to turbulence; and finally, some visual adaptations. Mink eyes appear to be incompletely adapted to underwater hunting, though mink can locate prey by searching under water. Although the visual acuity of mink is less in water than it is in air, their underwater acuity does appear enhanced by a well-developed sphincter iridis muscle, which can make the lens more convex when the cornea is unable to aid focussing (as happens under water). This muscle development is greater in mink than in the ferret (though possibly greater still in the otter). In addition, minks' ability to detect motion, the main visual cue used in hunting, is unimpaired in water compared with that on land".
Komiteen påpeker at ensidig avl for pelskvalitet og pelsfarge har medført arvelige defekter som nedsetter velferden for pelsdyr:
"For example certain colour types of mink have an increased incidence of different defects, e.g. "screw-neck" in lines of pastel mink, "bleeder" tendencies, increased susceptibility to bacterial and viral infections such as plasmacytosis in types with a recessive Aleutian gene, and the white "Hedlund" mink which is deaf as adult and whose ability to care for its kits may be reduced (Nes et al. 1988). Green eyed pastels also have excessively light sensitive eyes (Nes et al., 1988). The welfare of such animals should be checked particularly well in some strains and, the whole strain should be avoided if defects are frequent."
Komiteen påpeker at avl for mindre redde pelsdyr kan virke mot sin hensikt. Dette fordi tillitsfulle dyr som ikke for utløp for sitt kontaktbehov i et sterilt bur vil kunne bli svært frustrerte:
"Selection for low fear of novel objects/humans may improve welfare but note that selecting for a high motivation to explore or a high motivation to interact socially with humans could actually be counterproductive for welfare in a barren, physically restrictive, environment. For example, silver foxes selected for high approach behaviour to humans also show high levels of frustrated behaviour (e.g. whining etc.) when denied contact."
Komiteen påpeker at stadig flere revetisper blir kunstig inseminert. Dette innebærer gjentatt håndtering av dyrene, noe som er stressende:
"About one half of fox vixens in Scandinavia are mated, the other half artificially inseminated. Two insemination methods are in use, the intra vaginal and the intra uterine, the latter being most common. The detection of oestrus in foxes requires repeated handling and is confirmed by the use of heat detector, a device for measuring the electrical conductivity of the vagina. Heat detection and confirmation is stressful as it involves the most handling that the animal receives. Vixens can be handled up to 20 times in a six week period, with the heat detector used on around five occasions."
Komiteen påpeker at forskningen hittil har vært ensidig fokusert på dagens driftsformer, og dermed begrenset til endringer av minimal betydning for dyrenes optimale velferd.
"Enrichment in order to provide for the needs of foxes for locomotion, exercise, and appropriate stimulation might require a different housing system, such as those designed to replace confinement systems for sows and hens, but the studies which have been carried out with farmed foxes have been limited to relatively minor changes."
Komiteen påpeker at det er flere alvorlige dyrevernproblemer som ennå ikke er kartlagt:
"Possible welfare issues that have not been investigated [in fox] include weaning age, isolation of aggressive pups, restrictive feeding, dental problems and nail length. [...] Self mutilation of tail or limb tissue occurs [in mink] but its prevalence is unknown."
Komiteen presiserer at de ikke har tatt stilling til hvorvidt peldyroppdrett bør forbys eller ikke. Komiteens anbefalinger om forbedringer innebærer ikke at komiteen kan gå god for at pelsfarming er etisk forsvarlig:
"The welfare of animals kept for fur production, like other subjects considered by the committee, raises ethical issues. It is not within the aim of the present report to recommend whether or not continued fur farming is ethically acceptable. The present report therefore contains only a scientific assessment of the welfare of animals kept for fur production, and scientifically based recommendations on how their welfare can be improved."
Komiteen påpeker at kritikken er relevant også for norsk pelsdyroppdrett av rev og mink:
Oppdrett av mink
"All over Europe and the rest of the world, mink are managed and housed in very similar ways."
Oppdrett av rev
"The majority of foxes in Europe (95%) are produced in Finland and in Norway. Therefore, this section is based mainly on the data from those countries. Local veterinary services performed inspections of the 101 Finnish farms during the winter 1999-2000 (Nyberg 2000). Comparable inspections were carried out in Norway by order of Norwegian Fur Breeders Association (Westersjö 2000)."
Scientific Committee on Animal Health and Animal Welfare, European Commission, "The welfare of animals kept for fur production", December 2001.