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October 13, 2015

The Fur Trade

Humane Society International/United Kingdom

  • Mink and other animals suffer agony for a frivolous purpose. Jo-Anne McArthur

How many animals are killed globally on fur farms?

Each year, around one hundred million animals are bred and killed on intensive fur farms specifically to supply the fashion industry with not only traditional fur coats but, increasingly, real fur trim for hooded jackets, and real fur pompoms used on hats, gloves, shoes and a range of other clothing and accessories. It’s estimated that as many as half of all animals raised for their fur are killed to satisfy the market for fur trim.

Global fur farming statistics:

  • China (2014 stats): 60 million mink, 13 million foxes, 14 million raccoon dogs bred and killed on fur farms
  • European Union: 42.6 million mink, 2.7 million foxes; 155,000 raccoon dogs; 206,000 chinchilla killed for fur in the EU
  • Rabbits are also killed for fur (and, in some cases, their meat) in large but unknown numbers (likely hundreds of millions) in Europe and China
  • In 2015, more than 4 million animals were killed for their pelts in North America

What about trapping in the wild?

In addition to fur farming, huge numbers of animals are trapped and killed for their fur in the wild. Most fur from wild-trapped animals comes from the USA, Canada and Russia. Traps inflict great pain and anguish, both to the target animals and to unintended victims such as pets and endangered species.

Each year, animals such as coyotes are caught in traps (leg-hold traps, snares, drowning traps) for their fur. Often left for days, unable to seek shelter, food or water, these animals can cause serious injury to themselves in an attempt to escape. When the trappers finally arrive, they will often stomp or beat the animals to death.

Have any countries banned fur farming?

Yes, fur farming has been banned in Austria, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Croatia, Czech Republic, the Netherlands (fox farm ban 1995, chinchilla 1997, mink 2024), Northern Ireland, Republic of Macedonia, Serbia, Slovenia, United Kingdom. Brazil’s State of Sao Paolo introduced a fur farming ban in 2014. In addition, fur farming has been/is being phased out in Denmark and Japan. In Germany (effective 2022), Sweden and Switzerland the welfare requirements on fur farms have been made so high as to effectively make fur farming economically unviable. In New Zealand, the import of mink is prohibited, which effectively bans mink farming. Belgium, Germany and Luxembourg are currently considering fur farm ban legislation. India, Sao Paolo in Brazil, and West Hollywood and Berkley in the United States have all banned fur import or sale. Check out our full list.

Is fur farming cruel?

Yes. Animals bred for their fur such as foxes, rabbits, raccoon dogs and mink are confined in small, barren, wire cages for their entire lives. Unable to express their basic natural behaviours such as digging, roaming large territories and, for semi-aquatic mink, swimming and diving, these naturally active and curious animals have been shown to display the stereotypical behaviour of mental distress such as repeated pacing and circling inside their cages. Such confined spaces can also result in animals self-mutilating and fighting with their cage mates.

How are animals on fur farms killed?

When their pelts are at their prime, before they are one year old, the animals are gassed, electrocuted, beaten or have their necks broken. In December 2015 HSI filmed foxes on a Chinese fur farm being beaten to death, and rabbits being given a blow to the head before being shackled from their back legs and their throats cut before being skinned. Instances of raccoon dogs being slammed against the ground then skinned whilst still showing signs of consciousness have also been documented in China.

See the evidence for yourself: Take a look at HSI’s investigation at a fox and raccoon dog fur farm in China, and our investigation at a rabbit fur farm in China, both December 2015. Warning: graphic footage.

Which designers and retailers are fur free?

By supporting fur-free designers like these below, we can all help to put the business of animal cruelty out of fashion. For a full list, check out the Fur Free Retailer website.

  • Armani
  • Calvin Klein
  • Gucci
  • Hugo Boss
  • Ralph Lauren
  • Stella McCartney
  • Tommy Hilfiger
  • Vivienne Westwood
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  • Take Action
  • Live in the UK? Call for a Fur-Free Britain Say no to fur cruelty — Call for a UK import ban