Fur trade: Questions and answers 1. What’s wrong with wearing fur?
Each year in Canada, over 3 million animals are killed solely for the fashion fur trade. Animals trapped in the wild break teeth and bones trying to escape from cruel traps. On fur farms, animals live in small cages and are gassed or electrocuted.
Once a symbol of wealth and status, fur today symbolizes insensitivity towards animals and the environment. It is a product of extreme cruelty and greed.2. Do you think it’s ok to wear vintage fur?
While some people believe that wearing vintage fur may not be directly contributing to an animal's death, it sends the same unacceptable message, that it's "okay" to kill animals for fashion. 3. What about the Agreement on International Humane Trapping Standards (AIHTS)?
In 1995 the European Union banned the importation of wild fur products from countries using jaw-type leghold traps. To protect international trade, Canada, USA and Russia developed and signed "The Agreement on International Humane Trapping Standards (AIHTS)
". Under this agreement a commitment was made to develop and use only "humane traps".
To determine if a trap is "humane", lethal tests are done using fur-bearing animals. Researchers "score" trapped animals based on their injuries which can include self-mutilation, excessive immobility, fractures, severance of tendons or ligaments, severe external hemorrhages, internal hemorrhages, skeletal muscle degeneration, spinal cord injury, gashed eyes, internal organ damage, amputation and how long it takes to die. (Note: some animal testing has now been replaced by computer simulations). According to the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies the main criticisms of the AIHTS include the following:
- Restraining traps leave an animal to suffer great stress and pain, and ideally standards would prevent an animal from suffering in this way.
- The agreement requires that at least 80% of animals trapped in restraining devices not show signs of poor welfare, leaving room for 20% to suffer severe injury.
- Killing traps should cause instant death but the Agreement permits some animals to struggle for up to five minutes – and 20% are permitted to exceed that time.
- Although the steel jaw leghold trap is outlawed in Canada, other leghold traps that cause suffering are still widely used
- Foxes and mink are not included in the agreement.
- Traps classified as inhumane can still be used while research is ongoing, which means their use can continue indefinitely.
- Snares, which are very inhumane, are still permitted.
- The standard for the time between trapping and loss of consciousness or death for killing traps has not been decreased as was originally intended.
4. Aren't fur farms heavily regulated? What about the Recommended Codes of Practice developed by Agriculture Canada?
This recommended code of practice for foxes and minks is completely voluntary. Furthermore, under these guidelines animals can be gassed, anally electrocuted or can have their necks broken. All of these methods of euthanasia are deemed unacceptable at humane societies across Canada. 5. Doesn't the fur industry support the livelihood of aboriginal people?
Less than 2% of Canada's aboriginal population are involved in the fur trade.
Low pelt prices, fluctuating demand and high expenses (ie. gasoline, trapline permits etc.) mean that for many trappers, aboriginal or not, trapping has now become a hobby or a seasonal supplementary income. It is not a livelihood.6. Wasn’t the leg-hold trap banned years ago?
While leg-hold traps with "teeth" are no longer permitted in Canada, other models of leg-hold traps (ie. so-called "padded", offset and laminated) are still being used across our nation. Despite the type of leg-hold trap being used, they all hold an animal that is fighting for his or her life. Animals will break teeth and bones trying to escape. 7. Doesn’t trapping manage wildlife populations or target diseased animals?
Canadian trappers kill over 700,000 wild animals each year. These animals are not chosen because they are surplus, weak, or diseased. They are killed because they happen to be the 10 or 12 species that have nice, thick fur out of an estimated 140,000 species of animals in Canada.
Proponents of the fur industry often suggest trappers are “wildlife managers” who know how to kill just the “right” animals in order to maintain an optimal eco-system for the area.
Trappers and hunters know they are not wildlife management experts.
Hunter John Harrigan said in his column for Outdoorsmen, “Hunters and trappers have forgotten why wildlife management began in the first place. It began to control hunters and trappers. Hunters and trappers ‘solved’ the problem because they were the problem. Limits were put on how many animals they could kill because otherwise they would have killed every living thing into extinction”. 8. Trapping is no less cruel than what happens in the wild. Isn't nature itself cruel?
Agreed, nature can be cruel. Animals in the wild are always subject to disease, starvation and predation. Although we can not save all animals from horrible deaths, trapping is cruelty we can stop.9. Which animals are killed for fur?
Mainly foxes and minks are killed on Canadian fur farms. In the wild, fur-bearing animals such as coyotes, wolves, bobcats, lynx, beavers, foxes, minks, river otters, muskrats, fishers, martens, squirrels and even skunks are trapped. 10. How can I tell real fur from fake fur?
It is very difficult to tell real fur from fake fur. Many fur products are trimmed and dyed to look like fake fur. In Canada, fur products are not required to be labelled. Furthermore, recent investigations by the Humane Society of the United States
showed that products labelled or advertised as containing fake fur, were actually made from real fur.
If you care about animals, it is best to avoid both real and fake fur. 11. Aren't there some wildlife researchers who rely on leg-hold traps?
While some researchers use leg-hold traps, the American Veterinary Medical Association reports
, for conservation and research purposes, “Leg hold traps cause injury that sometimes exceeds ISO welfare standards. Furthermore, any sanctioned use of leg hold traps should be accompanied by evidence that their use is necessary and the most humane option that meets the needs of the research or other sanctioned use.”12. Can a trap catch or kill non-targeted animals like birds or pets? Can traps kill endangered species?
Yes and yes. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association
, traps may capture under-sized animals or unintended species. Reported captures of non-target animals range from 0 to 67% of total catch, but many studies do not fully report non-target catches and outcomes.
For a partial listing of dogs, cats, and people caught in wildlife traps, click here
For a partial listing of endangered species caught in wildlife traps, click here