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It's no way to go

作者:南宫锸    发布时间:2019-03-08 05:12:00    

By Jon Copley FUR farmers, already vilified by animal rights activists, could be in for more trouble. The latest research suggests that many of the mink farmed for their pelts are killed using a technique that causes unnecessary suffering. Farmed mink may be gassed with carbon dioxide or carbon monoxide, injected with a lethal dose of barbiturates or have their necks broken after being stunned by an electric shock. Gassing with CO2 is common in Scandinavia, where more than half the world’s 26 million farm mink are reared. And at the last official audit in November 1997, 4 out of 15 licensed farms in Britain also used CO2. So Jonathan Cooper and Georgia Mason of the University of Oxford, and Mohan Raj of the University of Bristol, devised an experiment to test the response of mink to high levels of CO2. The researchers trained eight of the animals to find a reward in a test chamber that could be filled with CO2. Mink are naturally curious, and the reward was a novel object that they could play with, such as a traffic cone or a Wellington boot. When there was no CO2, the mink would enter the test chamber after being released from a holding pen and spend several minutes playing with the novel object. But when the chamber contained CO2, the mink immediately turned tail on entry and headed for fresh air (The Veterinary Record, vol 143, p 359). “They recoiled backwards very quickly, coughing and spluttering,” says Cooper, now at De Montfort University in Lincoln. In other experiments, which have not yet been published, the researchers replaced CO2 with argon. In this case, the mink entered the chamber without any apparent aversion, but after several seconds they made a swift exit. This suggests that in addition to avoiding CO2, mink can detect low levels of oxygen, says Mason. Wild mink spend much of their time underwater, she notes. “As diving animals, mink can recognise low oxygen and have an instinct to move from it,” says Mason, “whereas you or I would become woozy or euphoric and then pass out.” The researchers argue that any method of gassing that causes distress before rendering the mink unconscious may not be humane. In the Netherlands, mink are often gassed with carbon monoxide delivered at 1 per cent from a pure bottled source, and carbon monoxide is also recommended for killing mink in Canada. This method may be more humane than using pure CO2 or argon, the researchers suggest, although they have yet to examine mink’s reaction to the gas. Len Kensall, who chairs Britain’s National Fur Breeders’ Association, disputes the conclusion that gassing with CO2is not humane. But in Britain,

 

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