A wild mink in Utah has tested positive for COVID-19, making it the first free-ranging native animal to contract the virus, The Salt Lake Tribune has learned.

In October, thousands of minks who were being housed in fur farms in Utah died from the coronavirus over the course of 10 days. State veterinarian Dr. Dean Taylor suspected that the virus had been strictly transmitted from the workers to the animals, adding, "We genuinely don't feel like there is much of a risk going from the mink to the people."    

Kitty Block, president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States, mentions in a blog post that the wild mink showed the same exact virus sequence as the ones on the farm. "It signals the disturbing likelihood that intensive confinement farms where minks suffer and die for their pelts are now the source of potential harm to mink in the wild," the post reads. 

The International Society for the Infectious Diseases attempted to minimize concerns about the possibility of COVID-19 spreading among free-ranging animals by stating that several animals from different wildlife species have tested negative. While the virus may not initially show signs of spreading from animal to animal, the way it has targeted older minks over the younger population is something eerily similar to humans.  

Block wonders how much more needs to happen, especially in regards to the minks in fur farms in the U.S. before action is taken. The Fur Commission USA plans on moving ahead with production by removing any traces of the virus from the fur of dead minks. Similar outbreaks occurred earlier this year in the Netherlands, Denmark, and Spain, but only the Netherlands and France have issued a ban on mink fur production.