Pair of orphaned minks released into wild by Vancouver Island animal centre

Two orphaned minks that were found in separate areas of Vancouver Island have been released back into the wild after being cared for at the BC SPCA's WildARC facility in Metchosin.

The minks were recovered several months ago, one by the SPCA and one by another animal rescue centre on the island, and were cared for together as they would've still been with family members in the wild at their young age, according to the SPCA.

"After a cautious introduction, the two became fast friends," said the BC SPCA in a release Thursday.

The pair shared an enclosure that was designed to feel like their natural environment, and received specialized care.

"Their enclosure had hiding places, tunnels, branches, open areas, and their favourite amenity, a pool, where they were free to practice natural behaviours including swimming," said the SPCA.

The animals were released earlier this week in an area "near to where they were found."

The SPCA says the pair will have to build a burrow to survive the winter, or find one that another animal has made, such as a rabbit.

Minks tend to live in a home range of between one to six kilometres near a body of water, according to the SPCA. Caretakers say the enclosure set up for the pair will have helped them prepare for living in the wild once again.

"Watching the mink grow, swim, explore, and play while in care has been wonderful, but nothing is as rewarding as watching them return to the wild," said Andrea Wallace, manager of wild animal welfare at the BC SPCA.

On Thursday, the SPCA renewed its call to shut down mink fur farms in B.C. The fur farms were put in the spotlight recently after several minks tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19 in humans, during the summer.