Irish government review says fur trade should continue

A mink
Image caption Mink farming was meant to be banned from the end of the year

A review of the Republic of Ireland's fur industry has recommended that it be allowed to continue.

Some 225,000 mink are farmed for their fur on five farms around the Republic.

The last government had recommended the fur industry be banned from the end of this year.

However, a review of the industry for the Department of Agriculture has recommended that it should continue under licence and be open to new entrants.

It also recommends that Department of Agriculture should double its inspections of fur farms, enhance animal welfare and improve security on mink farms to prevent escapes or the unauthorised release of animals into the wild.

The review said best practice should be followed in the killing of mink, to minimise distress and suffering of the animals.

Killing is generally carried out by gassing the animals with carbon monoxide or carbon dioxide.

There are currently five licensed mink farms in Ireland, located in counties Donegal, Kerry, Laois and Sligo, employing about 62 people.

Exports of Irish mink pelts are worth close to 5m euros per year.

Fur farming is opposed by the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and Birdwatch Ireland have said that escaped mink pose a threat to ground nesting birds.

Mink were first farmed for their fur in Ireland in the early 1950s. The trade was banned in Northern Ireland in 2003 and in Scotland in 2002.

Fur farmers in England and Wales shut down their operations in return for government compensation in the early 2000s.