SOFIA (Bulgaria), June 2 (SeeNews) - Bulgaria's environment ministry said on Wednesday that it banned the breeding and import of American mink so as to contain the risk of spreading the species in the wild and prevent damage to the country's environmental diversity.
The ban is the result of public debate, which saw 4,000 out of the 4,500 total submissions support the measure, the ministry said in a statement.
"These animals are an invasive species in Bulgaria causing serious harm to local ecosystems," environment minister Borislav Sandov said. He added that the conditions in the only mink farm in Bulgaria are unfavourable and are the reason why in recent years minks have escaped into wildlife areas and cause damage.
Bulgaria's only mink farm, in the village of Madjerito near Stara Zagora, has drawn protests from environmental and animal rights groups because of the conditions in which the animals have been reared, private bTV channel reported earlier this month. There are 25,000 pregnant female mink being bred at the farm, according to the report.
This species of American mink - Neovison vison - is rated at 19th place out of 100 most dangerous foreign invasive species in Europe.
Over the past 20 years, bans have been imposed on the production of valuable animal fur, including from the American mink species, in a number of countries - Austria, the Netherlands, Slovenia, Croatia, Czechia, Italy, France, Slovakia, Hungary, Luxembourg, Belgium and the UK. There is a effective ban on the breeding of minks and animals for valuable fur in Germany, Sweden and Switzerland, where the requirements for the conditions for breeding, accommodation and animal welfare are so strict as to nullify the economic interest from such farms.
Outside the EU, a ban on breeding animals for their valuable fur has been introduced in Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, North Macedonia as well as Israel, New Zealand, parts of the US and Canada, and others.