FUR INDUSTRY CRUELITES AND ENDANGERING SPECIES AND PUBLIC HEALTH: TIME TO END By Dr. Michael W. Fox
“Shame of Fur” demonstrations across the U.S. a few decades ago against the wearing of animals’ pelts as fashion and status statements needs re-activation considering the rising demand for such animal parts especially in Asian countries now receiving much of what is “harvested” in North America and Europe and enjoying more “disposable” income.
Hundreds of thousands of caged Minks have been destroyed in several countries because they contracted the COVID-19 infection from infected workers. Then these Minks infected other workers, cats around some of the fur farms, even spreading this viral disease to wildlife nearby. Minks are either being quarantined or “depopulated” in Utah, Wisconsin, Oregon, British Columbia, Denmark, Sweden, Holland, Poland, France, Switzerland, Faroe Islands, Russia and S. Africa, to date ( for documentation see https://drfoxonehealth.com/post/preventing-pandemics-like-covid-19-and-other-animal-to-human-diseases),
The crowded conditions on these and other fur farms, especially for foxes who are susceptible to this virus, but less so than Minks, and the stress of such active animals being confined in small cages their entire lives until they mature and have full coats, are grossly inhumane and create ideal conditions for such zoonotic disease to become established. For these reasons the captive propagation of wildlife species, even Wolves, for their fur should be illegal. But it is profit-driven and prohibition is politically a hot potato so consumers should step in and say “No”.
They should also say “No” to any furs and skins from wild animals like baby seals who are clubbed to death and the millions of others who are trapped and snared, such as Beaver, Coyote, Fox, (Red, Grey and Arctic), Bobcat and Pine Marten. Trapping and snaring (which is death by strangulation) is not only extremely cruel it is also indiscriminate, non-target species being caught. In 2019 some 62,000 coyotes were killed by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service agents at the behest of livestock industry, many of their pelts, along with those of several hundred wolves, when of marketable quality, entering the fur trade. Many of these species provide environmental and public health services by controlling rodent populations that can harbor the plague, Lyme and other diseases.
Non-target species can include people’s cats and especially dogs out in the woods and even endangered species such as the Canada Lynx of whom there are 50-200 left in northern Minnesota. The Center for Biological Biodiversity filed a law suit in December 2020 against the Minnesota Dept. of Natural resources for allowing trapping and snaring methods that do not include “Lynx exclusion devices” in the northern part of the state which is the last stronghold for the federally protected Lynx.
For details on the animal species trapped for their fur visit www.truthaboutfur.com › animals-trapped-for-fur Globally, wild animals now represent about 15-20% of all furs used in the trade. In North America, the largest producer of high -quality wild furs, the proportion is closer to 50%. Species include Muskrat, Beaver, Otter, Raccoon, Marten, Fisher, Fox, Coyote, Bobcat and Lynx. Smaller quantities of wild furs also come from Russia (Sable), Europe (Fox), South America (Fox, Nutria), and other regions. It is unlikely that the U.S. or any other government will ever move to prohibit legal and illegal exports of wild furs and other wild animal products and parts (including bear paws and bile) until a new paradigm of Global Trade is established based on international agreements over animal and environmental protection. Yet this is ultimately in the best interests of public health and a sustainable economy which depend upon ecosystem health and optimal natural biodiversity
Consumers can facilitate such initiative by voting with their money and not purchase any fur garments, accessories or products. I recall being on Johnny Carson’s Tonight show several years ago with fellow guest actress Shelley Winters who was wearing a full-length Lynx coat. During a commercial break I asked her if she knew that the Lynx had been all trapped and her response was she thought they had been ranch raised and that anyway, Marlon Brando had given it to her so she thought it would be OK.. “Ranch raised” sounds more humane, but fur ranches are indeed cruel confinement operations that have no place in a humane and informed society.
Over 95% of fur sold globally, comes from farmed animals, such as mink, foxes, raccoon dogs, rabbits and chinchillas. To preserve the pelts, animals on fur farms are killed by inhumane methods, such as gassing and head-to-tail electrocution. Fox and raccoon dogs are generally electrocuted through the mouth and anus; a method with potential to inflict severe pain and distress on the animal. (For details visit www.furfreealliance.com › fur-farming)
Raccoon dogs, originally from Asia, have escaped from fur farms in Finland and are now living in the wild, expanding into Sweden and governments are attempting to control by extermination.
Only a minority of states have banned or restricted the use of steel-jaw traps. Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and Washington have limited the use of leghold traps. The New Jersey law is particularly strong, establishing an outright ban on the manufacture, sale, possession, import, transport, and use of steel-jaw leghold devices. Thanks to animal protection and conservation organizations like Project Coyote, in September 2019 all fur-animal trapping for recreational and commercial purposes was prohibited in California.
An additional source of fur for the apparel industry comes from street-harvested cats and dogs in China and other countries (where their meat is also consumed), their fur being dyed and even patterned to look like it came from a wild animal. It may be sold as faux or synthetic fur. ( See Flawed Laws Mean Your Faux Fur Could Come From Dogs And Cats, www.huffingtonpost.ca › faux-fur_b_12121648)
But there is some good news perhaps temporarily for the millions of “furbearers” being trapped and snared according to Trapping Today. 2019-2020 Fur Prices: Trapping Today’s Fur Market Forecast Posted November 5, 2019 https://trappingtoday.com/2019-2020-fur-prices-trapping-todays-fur-market-forecast/
“Nothing has changed, and everything’s changed. That’s the story of the fur market heading into the 2019-2020 fur selling season. The demand for raw fur remains where it’s been for years – quite low. The Chinese and Russian economies continue to struggle along, meaning our biggest fur buying countries just aren’t consuming much fur. On the supply side, however, the entire market has been shifted upside down.”
The NAFA Debacle “North American Fur Auctions, the largest seller of wild fur in North America, is going bankrupt. After years of struggling with finances amidst rock bottom fur prices, the company dug itself a hole it couldn’t get out of. The vast majority of NAFA’s business is in ranch mink, and their strategy of financially backing struggling mink ranchers backfired. It appears that NAFA is going to be acquired, or merged, with Saga Furs, a Finnish auction company that only deals in ranched fur. Saga has no interest in wild fur, and thus NAFA won’t be accepting wild fur in 2019-2020.” “Fur Harvesters Auction, Inc., a wild fur company first and foremost, is still in business and plans to offer a huge collection of wild fur in the coming season. FHA is gearing up to have the capacity to take a lot of the fur that NAFA used to receive, and I’d encourage folks who haven’t shipped before to give FHA a shot. Groenewold Fur and Wool Company is also gearing up to take more fur, and is expanding routes into new states beyond its normal buying area.”
Fashion vs. Utility “The fur market is driven by two types of consumer demand: fashion and utility. Fashion trends often drive the high end market for select high quality pelts, and can help support high fur prices for specific items. For instance, the beautiful white black-spotted furs worn by affluent women in Russia is supporting the market for top end Western bobcats. The fur-trimmed hoods on Canada Goose parkas is driving the incredible demand for coyotes. Other furs like muskrat and otter have benefitted from fashion trends in the past. This can be great for fur prices, but can be devastating when the fashion trends go away. “
“Fur is consumed as a utility in many places due to its incredible warmth, durability and functionality. Populations in cold climates wear lots of fur, and consume most of what’s not used in the fashion market. This is great for items not supported by fashion trends, like raccoon and muskrat, but utility demand can challenge fur prices because consumers aren’t paying a great deal for these items, and price doesn’t react as well to shorter supply, since demand tops out at a certain price point, above which consumers just can’t afford.”
My concern now is that since the market for ranch-raised Mink fur is being crippled because these animals can contract COVID-19 from workers and then infect people and many production facilities are being de-populated, there will be an increased demand for wild furs from trapped and snared animals.
But this scenario could change again since Zoetis is developing a vaccine for mink that could be adapted for pets, and COVID-19 vaccines tested and proven effective in hamsters, mice or monkeys could also be modified to protect animals. Full Story: Science (tiered subscription model) (12/18/2020).
So the mink fur industry could recover and the pressure on wild furbearers be relaxed unless this entire market is seen for what it is through more empathic, civilized eyes of consumers especially in Russia and China and people say “No” to wearing any animal’s fur unless they are indigenous peoples like the Inuit and others living in more sustainable and traditional ways and must kill to live rather than live to kill for profit and pleasure.
Our redemption, recovery of our humanity and ultimate well-being are in large part through our renunciation of a culture and economy of harm. Such liberating redemption is at the core of all the world’s religions and secular humanism when shorn of politics and human-centeredness.