In the morning of 3rd July we received a notification from Animal Welfare Foundation (AWF) that they had checked a Bulgarian mink transport in Osnabrück. The truck was empty and was going to be loaded with mink in the Netherlands bound for a mink farm in Greece. However, AWF noted that the conditions inside the truck were a concern as the cages were very small and there was insufficient ventilation, also, the driver did not have the necessary documents. Eyes on Animals therefore drove to the mink farm in the Netherlands in the hope of being able to watch the loading and determine the transport conditions. We also alerted the NVWA, who in the end were on site. Unfortunately, because the farmer did not want us to see the truck, the inspection by the NVWA took place at a different location.
As the mink farmer could not tell what time the mink were due to be loaded (this is strange in itself), the NVWA inspectors “approved” the transport on the basis of a test set-up. This test set-up consisted of a few stacks of empty cages inside the truck – secured together with a wooden beam and cable ties. In our opinion, a test setup without animals, cannot be assessed as to whether the transport conditions comply with the legal requirements i.e. load factor, stability of the whole setup, ventilation etc. In addition, the papers were approved when in our opinion the transporter was not authorised to carry mink.
We find it incomprehensible that the NVWA approved the transport without seeing one mink. All the more because the transport conditions were very extreme: the cages were very small, the transport time extremely long (> 32 hours), the ventilation limited, and a considerable part of the transport took place at temperatures above 30 degrees.
As a result of the above we have sent a complaint to the NVWA.