Talking Points About Fur Farming
Those few individuals who still wear fur sometimes attempt to justify their actions by claiming their coat was made from animals killed on a fur farm or “ranch,” as opposed to animals that suffered for days in the wild caught in a trap.
There is a common misconception that the animals on fur farms are treated humanely. Unfortunately, there is nothing humane about depriving animals from their behavioral and physiological needs.
Consider these facts:
* Of the thirty-one million animals killed on fur farms each year, about twenty-six million are mink and 4.5 million are foxes. In addition, 250,000 chinchillas, 150,000 sables, 100,000 fitch, 100,000 raccoon dogs (a separate species from the American raccoon), and a small number of lynxes, bobcats, and coypus are also raised – and killed – on fur farms.
* Animals on fur farms are not able to engage in their natural behaviors. They are treated more like machines and commodities than living creatures with emotions. Their agony and certain death occur for the simple purpose of creating a luxury garment that serves no practical purpose – except, of course, to make money.
* Death for farm-raised animals is like something out of a horror movie. The most common method used for killing foxes is anal electrocution. Mink are usually gassed or violently injected with poison. Many animals have their necks broken.
* It takes sixty female mink to make a coat, thirty-five male mink, and a varying number of foxes depending on the breed; the most common number cited is forty.
* Mink fur is the backbone of the fur industry, and fox fur is quite significant in Scandinavia where 80% of the worlds’ fox farms are based. Mink are semi-aquatic animals native to North America. They are solitary creatures who spend a substantial portion of their day swimming. Mink are inquisitive and have a range of 2 - 1/2 miles. They are an active species that does not adapt well to life in a cage.
* On fur farms, mink are deprived of the proper amount of space they need because they are kept in cages averaging ten inches wide by twenty-four inches long. Cage sizes may vary a few inches larger or smaller, depending upon the individual fur farm. The lack of exposure to swimming in water is also believed to increase behavioral problems in ranch reared mink.
* Intensive confinement has severe psychological implications. Ranched mink often engage in neurotic behavior patterns. Many will move back and forth in a repetitive motion for extended periods of time. Tail biting is another form of self-mutilation that is common in captive mink populations. Self-mutilation is a hardship for fur farmers because it devalues the amount farmers can charge for the animals’ fur pelts.
* A Danish study indicates that as many as 17% of ranch raised mink will die prematurely as a result of various factors which could include stress, bad sanitation, heat, or cannibalism. Some years, as many as 10% of a fur farms stock may die from harsh weather conditions.
* Life for ranch-raised fox is not any more promising. Fox farms have a very serious problem with cannibalism. Foxes in cramped living conditions often resort to cannibalism as a result of a stress-induced environment. It is estimated that fox farmers will lose 20% of their animals prematurely, with half of those deaths resulting from cannibalism.
* The chinchilla industry proudly admits that most chinchillas are killed by neck breaking or electrocution. Chinchilla farmers hook one metal clamp to the ear, and another to the genitalia to implement the electrocution. Chinchillas are small, and as many as 100 of them are killed in order to make a single full-length fur coat.
Talking Points About Fur Trapping
Each year approximately 10 million animals are trapped in the wild, so that they can be skinned for fur coats. This suffering is multiplied when one considers the fact that an average of forty to one hundred animals must be killed to make one fur coat.
The primary tools used by fur trappers are the following: leghold trap, the body grip (Conibear) trap, and the wire snare.
Facts About The Leghold Trap
* A majority of Americans oppose leghold traps and other cruel body-gripping traps. A 1978 national survey conducted by Yale University professor Stephen Kellert for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service found that 78% of respondents opposed the use of steel-jaw leghold traps. In 1996, a national poll commissioned by the Animal Welfare Institute showed 74% of Americans opposed the use of leghold traps. Furthermore, the American Veterinary Medical Association, the American Animal Hospital Association, the World Veterinary Association, and the National Animal Control Association have all deemed the leghold trap to be inhumane.
* The leghold trap is made up of two metal jaws, powered by high strength springs, which slam shut on an animals paw when triggered. The initial impact of the steel jaws causes injury, but the majority of damage is caused as the animal struggles to break free. Within the first 30 minutes of capture, a trapped animal can tear her flesh, rip tendons, break bones, and even knock out teeth as she bites the trap to escape. In cases where animals are able to escape, many die from blood loss, infection, and inability to hunt with an amputated limb.
* Despite the overwhelming number of Americans who oppose the use of leghold traps, Congress has not banned its use nationwide and only eight U.S. states have banned or severely restricted its use. In contrast, eighty-nine nations have banned the leghold trap. As a direct result of public pressure, all fifteen-member nations of the European Union banned the leghold trap in 1995.
* Some leghold traps are set in a way as to kill an animal not to simply restrain them. Leghold traps set in the water and are called “drowning sets” and primarily target beaver, muskrat, and mink. The average time length required to actually drown an animal is nine minutes and thirty seconds. In one study, some beavers would hold on for as long as twenty minutes before their lungs gave out. Oddly, the fur industry argues that “drowning sets” are humane. This only serves to reinforce that their definition of humane is quite different than that of the rest of society.
* Leghold traps mutilate. They are non-specific in what animals they catch, and are a danger to companion animals and children. Traps will capture an animal other than the one the trapper was targeting. These are often referred to as “trash” animals, and are generally killed and thrown away. Those that are released usually die shortly thereafter from trap inflicted injuries. These non-target animals frequently include dogs, cats, birds, squirrels, opossums, and endangered species.
* In a public relations move to quiet critics, the fur trade started manufacturing padded leghold traps. These pads consisted of nothing more than a rubber strip across the jaws of the trap. The traps still had to close with the same force to hold a fighting mad wild animal. A 1995 study of coyotes trapped in padded leghold traps found that 97% of them experienced severe swelling to their legs, while 26% of them suffered from lacerations and fractures.
Facts About Snare Traps
* Another commonly used fur trap is the snare. The snare trap is made of cable, and is shaped like noose. When an animal walks through the noose, they are caught. The more a snared animal struggles, the tighter the noose becomes, the tighter the noose, the greater the animal struggles -- and suffers. It is truly a vicious cycle.
* The snare is primarily used on coyotes and is often set in areas where animals crawl under a fence or through some other narrow path. Body snares are designed to kill animals by strangulation or by crushing vital organs. However, like all traps, snares do not discriminate between victims and are likely to capture any animal that comes in contact with the trap, through and/or around any body part.
* While some studies suggest small animals become unconscious in about six minutes when neck snared, larger animals can suffer for days on end. Trappers have even coined a term -- "jellyhead" – to describe the thick, bloody lymph fluid which swells the heads and necks of neck-snared canines. Snares frequently have to be replaced after each capture due to the twisting and strain on the snare cable that naturally occurs when trapped animals struggle to break free.
* Because they are set on land and in water, snare traps are even more indiscriminate than leghold traps. Not only are they cheap and easy to set, but trappers often blanket a targeted area with dozens of snares in an attempt to capture as many animals as possible.
Facts About Conibear Traps
* The Conibear trap consists of two metal rectangles hinged together midway on the long side to open and close. One jaw has a trigger which is normally baited. The opposite jaw has a catch which holds the trap open. Originally intended as an "instant killing" device, the Conibear trap was designed to snap shut in a scissor-like fashion on an animal's spinal column at the base of the skull. However, because it is impossible to control such factors as the size, species, and direction of the animal entering the trap, most animals do not die quickly in the Conibear trap and instead endure prolonged suffering as the clamping force of the trap draws the jaws closer and closer together, crushing the animal's abdomen, head or other caught body part.
* Domestic dogs and cats are common victims of this indiscriminate trap. Numerous veterinary reports have shown that dogs and cats may be found dead or alive by their guardians in these traps after suffering for days. However, because it is extremely difficult to open Conibear trap jaws, most people are not able to free their animal companions in time.
* Conibear traps come in three standard sizes and are frequently used in water sets to trap muskrat and beaver. In addition, they are used on land to trap raccoon, pine marten, opossum, and other furbearers. Numerous research studies have shown that this trap does not kill instantly. One study of Conibear efficacy, showed that only 15% of the strikes might have been “instant” kills and a disturbing 40% of the animals studies were held in positions that most likely caused extreme pain. The study concluded that unless the animal is small or is struck on the skull or neck, this trap does not frequently kill instantly.
* Even Tom Krause, former president of the National Trappers Association, and current editor of The American Trapper is skeptical of the Conibear’s efficiency. Krause notes, "Traps of the standard Conibear design exhibit trigger aversion problems, and do not acceptably position sufficient numbers of animals for killing blows." (The American Trapper, January/February 1989).
Talking Points About Fur Trim
* In the past, the fur industry’s emphasis has been on full-length coats. With cost and conscience now influencing buying patterns fur trim is primed to take center stage as the primary focal point of the trade. Sales of traditional full-length fur coats have declined. As a result furriers have shifted toward an emphasis on fur trim to keep their businesses solvent. By disguising small amounts of fur through shearing, dying, and plucking, furriers are now able to market their cruel products to an unknowing audience. The latest figures from the Fur Information Council of America (FICA) reveals the fur trim market to be worth nearly $500 million annually.
* Most furriers have changed the focus of their advertising. In an attempt to keep their industry alive they now push fur trim on bikinis, blankets, hats, jeans, scarves, skirts, knitted sweaters, ponchos, purses, and vests.
* With the trim trade growing, the number of animals dying is also increasing. According to Sandy Parker Reports, a fur industry newsletter, the number of animal pelts used for trim will soon outnumber those used for all-fur garments in western European and U.S. markets. Demand for fur trim is currently so strong that some U.S. manufacturers, which typically produce only full-fur garments, are now moving into the trim business.
* The Fur Information Council of America (FICA) recently claimed that retail sales of fur rose 21% over the fall 2000-winter 2001 season to $1.69 billion. However, the income from fur storage, cleaning, and repair have traditionally been included in sales figures, and FICA only surveys select members of its organization for data. FICA no longer provides a breakdown of what percentage of revenue comes from services and what comes from the purchase of new fur products.
* The animals most commonly killed for fur trim are foxes. 90% percent of the foxes raised on fur farms are killed for the fur-trim market. Arctic or blue foxes are the primary type used, followed by the silver or red foxes. As of 2000, the total number of foxes killed on fur farms worldwide was 4.3 million.
* By actively marketing fur-trimmed items, the fur industry seeks to flood consumers with fur-buying options. Fur trim items are widely available and in many cases will not be labeled as fur. Fur industry publications report that furriers believe fur-trimmed garments will become more important than all-fur garments in terms of repeat business because such items need to be replaced in only a few years, while fur coats may last for 20 years or more. Furriers also believe that fur trim is what helped bring younger consumers to them.