Around 95 percent of furs traded worldwide originate from fur farms. The rest stems from hunting and trapping. Globally, around 100 million animals are bred and killed every year under the most cruel conditions.
Most fur farms are located in Europe and China. In the meantime, China is the world's biggest fur producer and Asia is a significant trading place for pelts. In the EU, there are still around 7,200 fur farms. They are mainly located in Denmark, the Netherlands and Finland. Around 40 million mink pelts and two million fox pelts are produced annually on European farms.
Fur farms: life behind bars
Millions of wild animals such as mink, fox and raccoon dogs are bred under distressing conditions. Crammed into tiny wire cages, the animals live under permanent stress, mesh-to-mesh with others of their species.
The cages are hung in long rows around half a metre above the ground. Excrement and urine fall through the mesh floor, so that the animals' fur remains unsoiled. These natural predators, with their exceptional sense of smell, are exposed to an unbearable stench all their lives. Through life on the cage floor, their sensitive paws are very often injured. Only mink have access to a shoebox-sized shelter – there are no other structures of any type.
Most fur animals are loners by nature and in the wild move across vast territories. Imprisonment in cramped spaces puts them under extreme strain. The animals on fur farms still have the same needs as those of their species living in the wild, but are unable to act out their natural instincts even to the smallest extent. It is impossible for them to climb, hunt or bathe.
Under these conditions, many fur animals develop strong behavioural disorders, even leading to cannibalism and self-mutilation. After several months of languishing in the cages, the animals are subjected to the so-called 'fur harvest': they are killed by gassing, poisoning or through electrocution.
Trapping: cruel and unnecessary
Millions of coyotes, foxes, bobcats and other species are caught in traps every year. Leghold traps are still used in the US, Canada and Russia today. These traps are especially vicious – but preserve the animal's pelt. Leghold traps are made of two steel jaws that snap together when the trap is triggered and hold the animal fast. Animals captured this way die of exhaustion or hypothermia. They chew or twist off their trapped limb and succumb to loss of blood. Surviving animals are brutally finished off by the trappers.
Moreover, killer traps and wire noose snares by no means kill fur animals instantly. Once captured, animals often fight for their lives for hours or even days before dying of exhaustion, hunger, thirst, or of their injuries. Likewise, terrified animals try to escape from live traps, injuring themselves in the attempt.
What is FOUR PAWS doing in Australia?
We have campaigned for over 30 years to bring an end to the suffering of animals for fur and are encouraged by the change in attitudes by brands and shoppers to this cruel and outdated industry.
In 2019, FOUR PAWS Australia launched the Wear it Kind campaign as the next big step in our plans to protect animals from the horrors of fur. Wear It Kind is building a movement of people, animal lovers, brands and designers, all working together to ensure no animal suffers for the sake of fashion. We express ourselves through what we wear, and we can all show our kindness to animals through our clothing!
A joint investigation between FOUR PAWS and the Animal Justice Party in 2020 also found shocking results, with animal fur being sold as ‘faux fur’ here in Australia, misleading the public across a number of popular Victorian retail outlets. That's why we are calling on Premiers Gladys Berejiklian and Daniel Andrews to lead the way, and make NSW and Victoria the first to ban the sale of fur in Australia.
What is FOUR PAWS doing in Europe?
FOUR PAWS strictly opposes the killing of fur animals for their pelts. The breeding of fur animals as well as trapping for the production of fashion and luxury items contravene ethical animal welfare.
That is why we advocate a ban on fur farms and are committed to achieving a Europe-wide prohibition on fur trading and the import of pelts and fur products. Our goal is a Europe without fur farms and fur fashion. We aim to achieve this through the following steps.
- Fashion brands and designers must opt out of selling real fur.
- Compulsory labelling of all fur products giving clear details of the animal species, the geographical origin and the conditions of farming involved.
- The prohibition of fur farming, or at least strict standards for fur farms.
- Take the Wear it Kind pledge!
- Support FOUR PAWS activities against cruel fur farming.
- Look out for products without real fur when buying children's toys and items for pets.
- Make sure that your favourite boutique is fur-free. FOUR PAWS supports the international Fur Free Retailer program which provides accurate information about international retailers with a fur-free policy. Your favourite store isn't on the list? Write to us at: FRR@vier-pfoten.org.
- Don't buy furs and clothing with fur trims.