Brute Ethics





Animal Ethics Encyclopedia

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What Is Fur?
The Problem
End Users
Price Tags
Numbers In A Coat
History: how it started
Fur Trade Species
   Tricky Names
Farmed Fur
   Breeding & Health
Trapping Fur
Killing Methods
Carcass Disposal
The Mink Economic Cycle
Marketing Fur
   Auction Houses
   Processing Fur
   The Furrier
Banned Fur Farming
Morality / Welfare
For & Against: argue your case
Sources For This Entry

What Is Fur?

Cats, mink, foxes and other mammals are covered in soft and pleasant hair we call fur. Other kinds of mammal, like warthogs and elephants, have rough sparse hair that is simply called hair. The generic term fur means a pelt or furskin: the skin of a mammal with the fur attached. Leather is skin without the fur.

The Problem

People object to the fact that millions of animals are farmed or trapped to sell their fur. Most of these fur-bearing animals are confined in tiny cages all their lives where they cannot carry out their natural behaviour. They sink into mental disorders and are killed and skinned after a year. Other fur-bearers are caught in the wild with traps that cause severe injury and pain. The traps also kill millions of all sorts of non-target animals that wander into them.

End Users

Fur from farmed and trapped animals is combined into clothing and some of it is made into accessories (eg Brushes). The ultimate consumers of fur clothing are the people who wear it, commonly women, often for fashion or luxury status, when they or their partners buy it.

Price Tags

Retail prices (2006) vary according to fur species and size of apparel. Sable are the most expensive: $25,000 for a full-length coat. Mink are next; coats cost from $3,500 upwards. Coats of muskrat, racoon, wild grey fox, coyote, beaver, red fox, otter, or rabbit cost $1,500 to $4,000. Hats of fox, skunk, beaver, racoon or badger cost $175 to $300. Fox tails are sold for $5 each.

Numbers In A Coat

The number of animals that goes into making a fur coat varies from half a dozen to a few hundred, depending on the length of coat and size of the animal (eg chinchilla or leopard). The number of animals that go into a fur coat can at least double when you add all the farmed or trapped animals that were thrown because their fur was not good enough.

History: how it started

Most pelts nowadays are produced at fur farms but the first pelts were taken by trapping wild animals, especially in Siberia and North America. The fur trade was the primary incentive for Europeans to explore and colonise these regions.

Sable was Siberia's greatest asset for Russia from the 16th to 18th centuries. Sable and other fur-bearers, like wolf, fox, lynx, otter, beaver and squirrel, were trapped, netted or shot so fast that their populations almost vanished. In the wake of the trappers came traders, farmers, soldiers and government officials to make money, claim the land, keep order and pacify the native inhabitants, and collect taxes. The trappers had continually to push eastwards to exploit new fur populations and eventually reached the Pacific Ocean. Then they began trapping and exploiting Alaska.

Meanwhile around 1600 the English and French were rivals for fur in eastern North America. Beaver fur hats were fashionable in Europe but beavers were now rare because they were trapped and hunted so much. So the Europeans in North America sent consignments of beaver and other furs back home. As hunters and trapper used up all the fur animals they moved progressively westwards and as in Siberia colonisers moved in after them.

The fur trade was responsible for devastating native peoples and the sable, beaver and many other species almost went extinct. In the mid-20th century trappers turned to the cats and brought many cat species close to the brink. Hundreds of thousands of cheetahs, leopards, jaguars, ocelots, geoffroys and other cats suffered and died before trapping was abated.

Today the fur trade is dominated by farmed fur. It is a significant industry in several countries, contributing 85 percent of pelts to the fur trade while trapping contributes the rest.

Fur Trade Species

Fur-bearers tend to be carnivores (mink, lynx and wolf) or rodents (muskrat, beaver and squirrel). The two most important fur-farmed animals are mink and Arctic fox. Mink are far the most numerous and described by the fur trade as "the staple raw material of the fur industry". Other important fur-bearers for the fur trade are sable, red fox and chinchilla. In Asia, even domestic cats and dogs are farmed for their fur.

Common fur-bearers used by the fur trade
Common Name Scientific Name
North American Beaver Castor canadensis
European Beaver Castor fiber
Bobcat Felis rufus
Domestic cat Felis catus
Chinchilla Chinchilla lanigera
Coyote Canis latrans
Coypu Myocastor coypus
Domestic dog Canis familiaris
Fisher Martes pennanti
Arctic fox Alopex lagopus
North American grey fox Urocyon cinereoargenteus
South American grey fox Pseudalopex griseus
Red Fox Vulpes vulpes
North American lynx Lynx canadensis
European Lynx Lynx lynx
Marten Martes americana
Pine Marten Martes martes
Mink Mustela vison
Muskrat Ondatra zibethica
Opossum Trichosurus vulpecula
North American Otter Lutra canadensis
European Otter Lutra lutra
Rabbit Oryctolagus cuniculus
Racoon Procyon lotor
Racoon Dog Nyctereutes procyonoides
Sable Martes zibellina
Red Squirrel Sciurus vulgaris
Skunk Mephitis mephitis
Stoat Mustela erminea
Weasel Mustela nivalis
Siberian Weasel Mustela sibirica
Wolf Canis lupus

Tricky Names

Science labels each species with a unique two-part name to avoid confusion. In the fur trade, however, the same animal can be known by different names (sometimes depending on coat colour variation as with the foxes) and this can be confusing. Common confusions are:

Common Name Fur Trade Name
Coypu Nutria
Arctic fox White or Blue fox
Red fox Silver fox
Polecat Fitch or Ferret
Racoon dog Finnracoon
Stoat Ermine
Siberian Weasel Kolinsky


Auction houses - markets where raw pelts are selected for quality before being sold.

By-products - the bits of animal bodies humans do not eat, eg guts, ears, eyes and feet.

Dressing - tanning raw pelts to turn the skin into soft pliable leather.

Fur - the soft and pleasant hair from mammals, eg cats, chinchillas, foxes. Furskin - same as a pelt.

Fur-bearer - an animal with a coat of fur.

Furrier - person who deals in furs or fur clothing.

Harvest - killing animals as a crop.

Pelt - an animal's skin with fur attached.

Dressed pelts - pelts that are partially or fully treated to be worn.

Raw pelts - pelts that are untreated in any way.

Trim - a small piece of fur that decorates part of a garment, eg a collar or hem.

Farmed Fur


A fur farm may raise a few dozen up to a hundred thousand or more fur-bearers, but the basic practice of fur farming is fairly standard throughout the world.

Animals are housed singly in cages in long sheds. In Denmark, where a major portion of the world's mink is raised, sheds are four metres wide and up to 50 metres long. Sheds in some countries are open-sided to allow in normal light and temperature.

Inside sheds the animals are kept in wire netting cages a bit bigger than themselves (mink are a little smaller than domestic cats and foxes are a little bigger). The fur trades says, "These cages give the farm animals sufficient space for normal movement and investigative behaviour." In China, a major and growing fur-farming country, each fox is kept in a cage the size of two suitcases (90 x 70 x 60 cm or 35 x 28 x 24 inches).

Cages are arranged in double rows facing each other along the length of sheds. They are raised off the ground for ease of clearing out droppings. In the West, the cages of some mink are provided with nesting boxes containing straw or wood and some foxes are given 'shelter shelves' in their cages for additional protection against the weather. Cages of farmed animals in China are bare.

Breeding & Health

Mink and fox fur coats display a variety of rare colours that are brought out by controlled breeding. Pure white mink for instance are especially sort after in the fur trade. However, breeding for coat colour is genetically linked to physical abnormalities and breeding for one brings out the other. White mink, for example, are blind. Other abnormalities included anaemia, deafness, nervous disorders and susceptibility to infectious diseases.


Bored, deprived, frustrated and stressed the caged animals engage in stereotypy: behaviour repeated over and over for long periods with no apparent goal. Turning in circles, pacing up and down, rocking back and forth, nodding or circling the head are all stereotypes. Stereotypy is a sign that animals are kept in depressing environments; it is not seen in free-living wild animals. The caged animals also fear approaching humans, are apathetic, kill their young and mutilate themselves.


Food is the largest expense for fur farms, equivalent to half or more of the cost of producing a pelt. So fur farmed animals annually consume millions of tons of food by-products, the unwanted waste humans will not eat. Mink and foxes are fed by-products of grain, fish, poultry (including spoiled eggs), pig, beef and dairy (eg expired cheese) that would otherwise be dumped in landfills. By using up by-products, the fur industry says, fur farms reduce the millions of tonnes of animal waste generated by humans and are a good source of revenue for fishermen and farmers.

Carcass Disposal

After the animals are skinned their bodies used as far as economically possible. Humans consume rabbits but most fur-bearers taste bad so they are turned into various products like animal feed, pet food, organic compost, fertiliser, paint and tires. Some carcasses are given to zoos, aquariums, wildlife preservesy and some end up as crab bait. Mink, the majority of fur-farmed animal, go into a number of products. Mink faeces make crop fertilizer and their fat is turned into oil to manufacture soap, face oils, cosmetics and leather preservative.

The Mink Economic Cycle

Farmed mink in the United States go round in an economic cycle.

American mink cycle

The Mink Economic Cycle

Mink are not only worn as fur but are also turned into soap, fertiliser and other commodities - including food for other mink. You can see in the graphic above that mink farms feed mink their processed carcasses and droppings. Crops are fertilised by mink droppings and the crops are then feed to livestock and poultry. Livestock and poultry also feed directly on the carcasses of skinned mink. The by-products of livestock and poultry are then feed to mink. See Food and Carcass Disposal above.

Trapping Fur

The majority of animals trapped for their fur come from Canada, Russia and the United States.

Many trapped fur-bearers are caught with steel leghold traps. Leghold traps come in a range of sizes for catching different animals, from the small weasel to the large bear. Legholds are relatively cheap and portable and work in much the same way. They have two steel jaws backed by heavy springs which snap shut on a foot or leg when an animal steps onto the release mechanism between them.

leghold trap   Leghold Trap
The jaws (together at top) must be prised apart and held down by both springs (on either side). An animal treads on the centre plate which releases the springs, thus trapping him. The trap is chained to the ground to stop the crippled animal trying to get away with it.

About 100 countries, excluding the United States, Canada and Russia, have so far banned the use of leghold traps on the grounds that they are inhumane and indiscriminate. Britain was one of the first countries to outlaw them (there called gin traps) in the 1950's and the European Union banned steel-jaw leghold traps in 1995.

Humane issues with legholds are:

  • They cause severe injuries.
  • They may clamp shut on any part of an animal that springs them, like an exploring snout. Bones are broken, teeth are fractured (when biting the trap in a frenzy to escape), and animals may chew off their trapped limbs to escape.

  • Traps are left unchecked.
  • Trappers often leave their traps for long periods, or forget where they are or abandon them so that trapped animals die slowly.

  • They are indiscriminate.
  • Even carefully placed traps for fur-bearers catch unintended animals, including birds, domestic pets and animals of rare species. Literally millions of non-target animals are unintentionally killed every year.

  • Where legal their use is poorly if at all regulated.
  • There is no adequate way to police the expanse of wild places.

    Killing Methods

    No laws regulate the handling or killing of fur-farmed animals in China or the United States. The International Fur Trade Federation stipulates that fur farmers should behave with the highest standards of care. Another guide is that pelts must not be spoiled or they will be useless, so the usual killing methods for chickens, sheep and other animals cannot be used. Costs must also be kept down.

    China is a member of the International Fur Traders Federation but does not follow the 'highest standards of care'. Animals are stressed by journeying long distances to markets where they are killed by clubbing or beating against the ground to stun them before they are skinned with a knife. Some may still be alive after skinning.

    In the United States, the only method officially approved (by the Fur Commission USA, a body representing mink US farmers) for slaughtering farmed mink is dropping them into a container of pure carbon monoxide or carbon dioxide gas, said to render them immediately unconscious and quickly dead. Foxes on the other hand are electrocuted. An electrode is inserted in the mouth and another in the rectum, or clipped on an ear and foot.

    The fur trade is not open about slaughter methods and fur trade critics emphasise the brutality of killing:

  • Gas for mink is supplied hot and impure.
  • Gas comes from the exhaust of tractor engines (instead of the more costly cylinder gas) and scours the animals' respiratory tract.

  • Mink can hold their breath for long periods.
  • Being water diving animals mink can hold their breath for a long time and therefore take some time to die.

  • Electrocuted foxes are stressed my manhandling and then take minutes to die.

  • Foxes are injected with barbiturates or other chemicals but may be conscious when skinned.

  • As for wild animals trapped in legholds, they slowly die from hypothermia in cold climates or loss of blood while waiting for the trapper to return, slowly drown if trapped in water, are clubbed on the head or their neck and chest are stepped on to suffocate them.

    Marketing Fur

    Pelts pass through a number of countries from where animals are farmed or trapped before they are bought to wear as clothing.

    Auction Houses

    Auction houses take most pelts from farmers and trappers. Pelts are graded and sorted into lots ('bundles') and prospective buyers from around the world inspect them before bidding. Buyers are mainly brokers acting for furriers or for companies that buy and sell pelts globally. Thus countries which do not produce fur can still be big players in the fur market, like Britain. The largest auction houses are in Copenhagen, Helsinki, Oslo, Saint Petersburg, Seattle and Toronto.

    Processing Fur

    From auction houses the semi-raw pelts are shipped for processing or 'dressing' ready for combining with garments. The primary processing centres are in the Baltic States, Canada, China, France, Germany, Italy and Russia.

    Processing pelts entails many stages. Examples are:

    Scraping to remove layers of skin and other tissues.

    Soaking in brine to make the skin soft and supple.

    Plucking out the long outer hairs to reveal the finer under-fur.

    Cutting hairs to a uniform length.

    Dying in any one of numerous colours to make hairs look uniform.

    Spraying dye along a centre line to create a natural-looking centre stripe.

    Glossing by chemical or mechanical processes to create a lustre.

    Cutting and sewing pelts to re-shape and lengthen them.

    The pelts are then sorted into bundles of matching furs - graded by colour, size, hair length and texture and go to the furrier's workshop.

    The Furrier

    Furriers are manufacturers who turn fur into products, usually clothing, and may work with designers to contrive fur garments for the fashion industry.

    Pelts are cut to a pattern, moistened, stretched and tacked to a table for shaping and further softening. If necessary they are sliced into narrow strips. They are then stitched together to make a larger expanse of material. A full-length mink coat has hundreds of such pieces. Odd pieces are sewn together to make cheaper garments or linings. It takes about a year after killing an animal to turn the fur into purchasable clothes ready for the consumer.

    China is the largest manufacturer of fur products. As well as farming its own fur, China imports millions of raw pelts from North America and Europe. China is also the world's biggest exporter of finished fur garments and fur products, through Hong Kong, mainly to the US, Europe and Japan. About 70 percent of fur trade mink is manufactured into garments in China.


    The penultimate consumers of fur are retail shops, from boutiques to department stores and other outlets. The biggest consumer markets of fur garments are North America, Europe, Russia and Scandinavia. Japan, Korea and China have recently joined in.


    The fur industry claims over a million full-time workers worldwide, including people at auction houses, furriers and retail shops.

    Currently the United States has 320 fur farms. All together about 3,000 people work on US fur farms and additional workers are hired during breeding and killing seasons. The US claims it is the biggest trapper of furs; about 150,000 people are licensed to trap although few earn a serious income from trapping fur.

    68,000 people are employed full-time and part-time in Canada: 60,000 trapping, 2,000 farming, 2,500 processing, 2,500 retailing and 1,000 people in related work.

    There are 6,000 fur farms in Europe. Over 200,000 full and part-time workers are employed in the fur industry.

    Banned Fur Farming

    Opposition to fur farming has grown in recent years and a number of governments have recognised the immorality and poor animal welfare inherent in the trade. Fur farming is now legally banned or limited in a number of European countries.

    Austria - banned fur farming at the end of the 1990's.

    Britain - banned fur farming in 2003 on the grounds that it is not consistent with value and respect for animal life.

    Netherlands - banned fox and chinchilla farming in the late 1990's. Fox farming is being phased out over several years.

    Sweden - illegal to keep fur-bearing foxes in cages.

    Switzerland - banned fur farming.

    Although fur farming is illegal in some countries it does not make them non-players in the fur trade. London is an important centre of the international fur market with an annual turnover of around US$750 million.


    Countries are not always forthcoming with statistics for farmed and trapped fur-bearers. The United States and Canada publish some information and some can be obtained from the fur trade itself. The following tables show:

    Table 1. Number of farmed mink worldwide.

    Table 2. Number of farmed mink pelts in the United States.

    Table 3. Number of farmed fox pelts on the world market.

    Table 4. Number of farmed fox pelts sold in Canada.

    Table 5. Numbers of top ten fur-bearers trapped in Canada.

    Table 6. Number of wild fur-bearers trapped in the United States.

    Table 7. Value of worldwide fur retail sales.

Table 1. Number (in millions) of farmed mink worldwide 1998 - 2002
  1998 1999 2000 2001 2002
Denmark 11.9 10.5 10.9 12.2 12.2
Netherlands 2.7 2.7 2.8 3.0 3.0
United States 2.9 2.8 2.7 2.6 2.6
Russia 3.3 2.7 2.2 2.5 2.7
Finland 2.1 1.9 2.0 2.0 2.0
China 1.2 1.5 1.7 2.0 1.7
Sweden 1.3 1.3 1.2 1.3 1.4
Canada 1.0 0.9 1.0 1.2 1.2
All Others* 3.7 3.5 3.7 3.8 4.1
World Total 30.1 27.8 28.2 30.6 30.9

*Other mink farming countries include Baltic States, Spain, Norway, Italy, Germany, Ireland, France, Iceland, Belgium, Argentina.
Based on Furskins. Industry & Trade Summary. US International Trade Commission, publication 3666, 2004.

Thirty million mink are farmed worldwide annually. Eight countries produce nearly 90 percent of them. Denmark produces a third. However, China's fur industry is growing fast and reached 8 million farmed mink in 2005 (Dying For Fur), second only to Denmark. In addition to harvested mink, a few million more mink are kept as breeders for the following year's crop of pelts.

Table 2. Number of farmed mink pelts in the United States 1985 - 2003
Year Number of Pelts
1985 4,171,000
1986 4,096,000
1987 4,122,000
1988 4,453,000
1989 4,604,000
1990 3,366,000
1991 3,268,000
1992 2,900,000
1993 2,620,000
1994 2,623,000
1995 2,803,000
1996 2,783,000
1997 2,993,000
1998 2,938,000
1999 2,813,000
2000 2,666,000
2001 2,565,000
2002 2,607,000
2003 2,549,000

Based on Mink. National Agricultural Statistics Service, US Department of Agriculture, 2004.

In addition to the above figures, over 600,000 female mink in 2003 and 2004 (ie an extra 25 percent) were kept as breeders for the following year's crop. The number of mink farms decreased from 1,042 (1985) to 307 (2003). The average marketing price per pelt ranged from US$28 to US$53.

The US International Trade Commission reports that the United States is the world's largest 'volume' producer of furskins trapped in the wild, the world's fourth largest producer of farmed mink 1998 to 2002 and that farmed mink account for over half the total US furskin production.

Table 3. Number (in millions) of farmed fox pelts on the world market 1998 - 2002
  1998 1999 2000 2001 2002
Finland 2.7 2.1 1.9 2.1 2.1
Other Scandinavian* 0.7 0.5 0.4 0.4 0.4
China 0.4 0.8 0.9 1.0 1.2
Russia 0.7 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4
All Others 0.3 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.4
World Total 4.8 4.2 4.0 4.3 4.5

*ie Norway, Sweden and Denmark.
Based on Furskins. Industry & Trade Summary. US International Trade Commission, publication 3666, 2004.

Four to five million fox pelts go on the world market annually. Finland is the world's biggest producer of farmed foxes, about half the world's supply. China and Russia are also leading producers. The number of China's farmed foxes is growing annually. It was estimated at 3.5 million for 2005 (Dying For Fur), overtaking Finland.

Table 3 records fox pelts "on the world market". Therefore not all farmed fox pelts may be recorded here. Some pelts could be sub-standard and discarded before reaching the market.

Table 4. Number of farmed fox pelts sold in Canada 1999 - 2003.
Year Number of Pelts
1999 24,090
2000 15,880
2001 13,160
2002 10,850
2003 9,530

Based on Fur Statistics 2004, vol 2, no 1. Statistics Canada, Agriculture Division.

More foxes are farmed in Canada than Table 4 suggests. The table records pelts "sold"; therefore sub-standard pelts would be trashed before sale. Furthermore, a lot of data were blanked out as not available in the source document. Also the number of breeding stock for the following year's crop is excluded, which may add an extra 25 percent. The species of fox are not recorded but presumably are mainly Arctic fox (Alopex lagopus) with some red fox (Vulpes vulpes). Canadian farms raising foxes increased from 180 in 1999 to 230 in 2003.

Table 5. Numbers of top ten fur-bearers trapped in Canada 1999/00 - 2001/02
  1999/00 2000/01 2001/02 Rounded Average
Muskrat 400,097 207,316 291,323 300,000
Beaver 215,246 221,118 260,421 223,000
Marten 141,129 149,686 119,071 137,000
Squirrel 83,534 63,626 77,053 75,000
Coyote 44,427 54,663 55,427 52,000
Racoon 26,511 30,033 71,749 43,000
Fox 33,733 43,972 48,507 42,000
Mink 40,569 27,754 34,913 34,000
Weasel 38,915 25,803 30,135 32,000
Fisher 16,638 16,109 23,456 19,000
Rounded Total 1,000,000 800,000 1,000,000 1,000,000

Based on Fur Statistics 2004, vol 2, no 1. Statistics Canada, Agriculture Division.

Canada traps well over a million wild fur-bearers annually when you add trapped fur-bearing species not in this Table.

Table 6. Number of wild fur-bearers trapped in the United States 1997/98 Season.
Racoon 2,896,000
Muskrat 2,183,000
Beaver 429,000
Coypu 398,000
Mink 190,000
Red Fox 164,000
Coyote 159,000
Otter 29,000
Other 613,000
Total 7,062,000

Based on Furskins. Industry & Trade Summary. US International Trade Commission. Publication 3666. 2004.

The United States traps over seven million fur-bearers a year. Far more fur-bearers are trapped in the US than in Canada (compare previous table), perhaps because the United States has a much larger human population and therefore more trappers.

Table 7. Value of worldwide fur retail sales 1999 - 2005
Year US$
1999 8.2 billion
2000 9.1 billion
2001 9.8 billion
2002 10.9 billion
2003 11.3 billion
2004 11.7 billion
2005 12.8 billion

Based on International Fur Trade Federation press release, 27 February 2006.

The retail sales include, fur garments, trim and accessories. The worldwide value of the fur trade has not diminished in recent years despite public opposition to the trade.

Morality / Welfare

Mink, foxes and other predatory fur-bearers are inquisitive creatures with varied and complex behaviour born of hunting prey. Mink range along several kilometres of riverbank and are adapted for a semi-aquatic life. Foxes are active throughout tens to hundreds of hectares. Mink and foxes, like many fur-bearers, are not gregarious herd animals but live alone or in small family groups. Therefore these animals need stimulating environments to be active in and not forced to endure the strain of closeness to others of their species in nearby cages in sight and smell of one another. Confining them on fur farms inevitably causes suffering.

People assume that raising fur-bearers is like rearing other farm animals and provided the animals are looked after well they pose no welfare or ethical problems. The fur trade says that mink and foxes are domesticated animals well suited to the farm. But mink and foxes are not domesticated animals. Unlike dogs, sheep and cattle they have not been bred over centuries for pliancy and toleration of humans. Fur-farmed mink and foxes retain their wild instincts - they are caged wild animals.

The inherent lack of welfare in the system is the basis of welfare arguments against the fur industry. Even moderate welfare is not implemented. There is too little incentive to change the system and welfare eats away profits. Animals in China have no welfare and in countries with a similar disposition the idea of animal welfare is non-existent. Moreover, the concept of welfare entirely misses the fundamental issue. Humans have no right to impose suffering on animals to farm and trap them for their fur. This is an issue welfare cannot address. The fur trade has failed to engage in the ethical fur debate. Aside from welfare ('standards are always improving') their arguments extend only to conservation ('we do not use endangered species') and that fur is somehow indispensable ("...the ultimate modern luxury for today's lifestyle").

It is the end user of fur, the people who ultimately wear fur, who are key to the continuation of the fur trade. They finance the trade by buying fur apparel. The fur trade will keep going as long as fur wearers pay for it. But the fashion conscious give no thought to the suffering and cruelty behind their apparel or dismiss them as less important than their need for glamour.

For & Against: argue your case

  • Claim: Fur wearers do not kill the animals they wear so they cannot be blamed for their death.

  • Claim: The people who buy furs to wear sustain and propel the industry by financing for it, so they are the most blameworthy of all for animal cruelty.

  • Pleasure
  • Claim: Fur is good because it gives pleasure to so many people.

  • Claim: They are not thinking or do not understand the suffering behind the fur.

  • Choice
  • Claim: The choice of whether or not to wear fur should be left up to individuals to decide.

  • Claim: Choice should be free, but cruel practices behind them should be banned.

  • Livelihoods
  • Claim: The fur trade is necessary because the way of life of many people depends on it.

  • Claim: Cruel practices cannot justify employment. People can adapt to change but the animals they kill lose everything.

  • Million Dollar Donations
  • Claim: The fur trade is good because it contributes million of dollars to animal welfare and conservation projects.

  • Claim: Furs farming and trapping still cause suffering and are immoral, no matter how much money you throw about.

  • Natural & Sustainable
  • Claim: Fur is good for society because it is a natural product, based on the sustainable use of renewable resources.

  • Claim: Fur is found in nature (is 'natural') and fur-bearers reproduce (are 'sustainable') but this does not give you the automatic right to exploit fur-bearers relentlessly.

  • Environment-friendly
  • Claim: Fur is biodegradable and therefore environmentally sound, unlike synthetic fabrics.

  • Claim: Fur farming and all the chemicals that go into processing pelts are anything but environmentally friendly.

  • Freedom Of Activity
  • Claim: Fur farming is a lawful trade. Banning it infringes the legitimate freedom of people to trade.

  • Claim: You cannot defend cruel practices on the grounds of rightful trade. Other cruel practices have been banned in the past.

  • Farming
  • Claim: Fur farming is as justifiable as farming any other animal.

  • Claim: Real farms do not confine wild animals in tiny cages.

  • Quality Farming
  • Claim: Fur farming is not cruel. Guidelines and regional, national and international laws regulate fur farmers.

  • Claim: Fur farming is controlled on paper to some extent in some countries. But guidelines and laws support fur farming as a legal activity. They do not prevent fur-farmed animals suffering.

  • Established Economy
  • Claim: Fur farming is an important, established and normal part of farming in many countries.

  • Claim: Practices are not right just because they are entrenched and taken as customary. Many gross practices in farming must change.

  • Offal
  • Claim: Fur farming makes good use of millions of tonnes of animal by-products by feeding it to fur-farmed animals and is a valuable link in the food and recycling chain.

  • Claim: Killing one lot of animals (by-products) to feed another lot (fur-farmed animals) justifies nothing except human economics and is part of the global industrial exploitation of animals.

  • Ethical Obligation
  • Claim: Providing fur-farmed animals with humane care is an ethical obligation of the fur industry.

  • Claim: You cannot provide animals with humane care by locking them into little wire cages then killing them after a year.

  • Welfare
  • Claim: Fur farms are compassionate because they provide high standards of care for animal health and welfare.

  • Claim: They are not and do not. And many countries in Asia, China being the biggest, have no concept of animal welfare.

  • Science
  • Claim: The fur industry recognises that farming and trapping must take account of scientific advice on welfare - not emotions or morals.

  • Claim: Science cannot say how we should act. Nor is it sufficient for welfare because it is not acted on.

  • Glossy Fur
  • Claim: You can tell fur-farmed animals are in good health by their glossy good-looking fur. Fur farming and good welfare go hand in hand.

  • Claim: Caged animals show behavioural abnormalities (ie they are mentally deranged). These behaviours, not coat quality, are the best indicators of health and well-being.

  • Breeding
  • Claim: Fur farmed animals are specifically bred for their fur so there is no harm done to wildlife.

  • Claim: Millions of animals are still deprived of their freedom and lives.

  • Adaptation
  • Claim: Fur farmed mink and foxes are domesticated and adapted to their farm environment because they are bred for it.

  • Claim: They have not been bred for sufficient generations to be domesticated and are still wild animals evolved to live wild lives.

  • Longevity
  • Claim: Most wild-living mink live only a few months but the care of mink farmers ensures that farmed mink live until the end of the year.

  • Claim: Better to live and die free than to live a little longer caged and deranged.

  • Soap
  • Claim: Mink framing is beneficial because it provides fat for hypoallergenic soaps and hair products and supplies manure for organic fertiliser.

  • Claim: No one, who could recognise them in the products they buy and is sensitive to animal issues, would want any part of them.

  • Native Peoples
  • Claim: The survival of indigenous cultures depends on fur trapping and the fur trade.

  • Claim: Commercial trapping is not important for native societies and it was the cause of their decline in the first place.

  • By-Catch
  • Claim: Trappers catch only the number of animals that can be managed responsibly and is allowed by law.

  • Claim: Trappers accidentally catch millions of animals in addition to their target animals.

  • Indispensability
  • Claim: Trapping is indispensable for managing animal populations for the protection of people and for the survival of the animal populations themselves.

  • Claim: Wild populations should regulate themselves naturally. Food availability, weather and disease have always limited them, long before humanity came on the scene playing God.

  • Over-population
  • Claim: Trapping is necessary for wildlife management. It prevents disease and habitat deterioration because of animal over-population.

  • Claim: Humanity first hit animals by upsetting their natural balance. Now humanity is killing them to restore a semblance of balance. The real population that needs management is the over-populated human one.

  • Surplus
  • Claim: Only surplus wild animals (those who do not breed and therefore do not contribute to the size of population) are trapped for the fur trade each year. So trapping does not harm wild populations.

  • Claim: You cannot justify trapping animals based on thinking they are excess, unimportant, non-breeding individuals. Quality counts.

  • Pest Control
  • Claim: The trapped wild animals that go to the fur trade are taken for pest control.

  • Claim: Animals are branded through no fault of their own and should not be persecuted for being 'pests', a human concept, meaning animals who compete with humans for resources.

  • Law
  • Claim: International agreements ensure only the most humane kind of trapping is done.

  • Claim: Animals still suffer and die no matter how humane office-bound bureaucrats try to make trapping.

  • Main & Useful Sources for this Entry

    These and other sources can be found on the Web.

    Andrew Linzey (2002): The Ethical Case Against Fur Farming.

    Hsieh-Yi, Yi-Chiao, Yu Fu, B Maas & Mark Rissi: Dying For Fur: a report on the fur industry in China. EAST International/Swiss Animal Protection SAP. January 2005 (revised April 2006). Similar to Fun Fur? A report on the Chinese fur industry, by the same authors.

    The Socio-Economic Impact Of European Fur Farming. European Fur Breeders Association / International Fur Trade Federation. Undated but latest figurers are for 2004.

    International Fur Trade Federation (IFTF) web site.

    Furskins. Industry & Trade Summary. US International Trade Commission. Publication 3666. 2004.

    Fur statistics (2004): Statistics Canada, Agriculture Division.

    © 2004 Roger Panaman All rights reserved