Cavendish mink farm brings jobs in addition to smell, says owner

The owner of a Trinity Bay mink farm is defending his multi-million dollar business against criticism that it's the source of escaped animals, hordes of flies and noxious odours.
The owner of a Trinity Bay mink farm is defending his business against criticism. The CBC's Mark Quinn had a tour of Viking Fur. 1:48

The owner of a Trinity Bay mink farm is defending his multi-million dollar business against criticism that it's the source of escaped animals, hordes of flies and noxious odours. 

"We're very proud of what we're doing," said Peter Noer, co-owner of Viking Fur in Cavendish, 

This fall, a local poultry farmer complained escaped mink are killing his free range chickens. 

Noer, who was raised on a mink farm in Denmark, says while some mink do escape from the farm, he believes the operation does more good than harm. 

"Of course you can always start to open the ethic debate of whether it's ethically correct to farm. I'd just like to have people understand what it is to farm mink and I would gladly give everyone a tour on the farm."

Viking Fur's Cavendish farm produces 80,000 pelts a year and sells millions of dollars worth of product to an international market. (Mark Quinn/CBC)

While complaints have been made by neighbours, Noer said the farm employs more than 100 people each year. 

"We're selling the majority of our pelts to the old Hudson Bay Company, today called North American Fur Auctions," said Noer.  

"The biggest pelts market right now is China."

His operation produces 80,000 pelts a year, worth between $1.6-million and $8-million in international markets.

Keeping mink contained

The Cavendish farm is home to tens of thousands of mink and Noer said he's doing everything he can to keep the animals contained. 

"It's very hard for us not to have any escapees at all. We have a solid fence around the whole farm," he said. 

But the occasional mink does get out so traps have been placed around the farm's perimeter. Noer said anyone looking to set up a trap is welcome to borrow one of his. 

Peter Noer says, from a business perspective, it makes sense to take good care of his mink to make sure they are as healthy as possible. (Mark Quinn/CBC)

Noer said manure is carefully collected and disposed. "We don't want to give anyone a hard time with odour and flies." 

He said it's in the farm's best interest to take proper care of the animals. 

"It's very simple," he said.  

"You have to nurse this mink from the day it's born ... To have the quality and the size, it's very important that you look after your animals."

With files from Mark Quinn

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