LONDON—Mike Moser, who resigned as CEO of the British Fur Trade Association in 2018 after a decade of defending the fur industry, has come out in support of a UK ban on fur sales because he no longer believes fur can be produced humanely. Moser is now publicly supporting the #FurFreeBritain campaign by animal charity Humane Society International/UK.
Moser also worked for the International Fur Federation from 2008 to 2015 during which time he visited fur farms on five continents.. He says it was coming home to his beloved Labrador Barney after visiting fur farms overseas that made him realise keeping foxes and raccoon dogs in wire cages barely bigger than they were was unacceptably cruel. His growing doubts solidified during TV and radio debates with HSI/UK’s executive director Claire Bass, during which he began to feel he was “defending the indefensible.”
Moser, who will address MPs and Ministers at a No Business In Fur virtual event for HSI/UK next week, says: “I spent ten years working for the fur trade, and in that time I visited fur farms across the globe so I’ve seen the reality of fur farming. Over time I realised that whatever soundbites we devised to reassure consumers, retailers and politicians, neither welfare regulations nor any industry certification scheme, would ever change the reality of these animals being stuck in tiny wire cages for their entire lives. I would come home to Barney my Labrador, who I loved dearly, and realise that he wasn’t that much different in size to some of the animals I saw languishing on fur farms, and the thought of him being treated like that was just unthinkable. I felt a complete hypocrite.
“On a number of occasions I was in media debates with Claire from Humane Society International, and my job was to counter her claims, but increasingly I found that I agreed more with their messages than I did my own. I no longer had the conviction that what I was doing was right – defending what is indefensible. One of my main regrets is that I didn’t leave earlier. After I resigned, I met with HSI to express my respect for how they conducted their campaign, and in conversation realised I shared many of their views. I agree fully that the fur trade is out of time.”
In the ten years that Mike Moser worked for the fur trade, he witnessed caging of mink, foxes and raccoon dogs in countries as diverse as Denmark and Finland, China, Russia, and Latvia. He says that regardless of the country of origin and any associated welfare regulations, the basic cage-based model of fur farming is systemically cruel.
Mr Moser says: “It is universally accepted that the ability to exhibit natural behaviour is a fundamental tenet of good animal welfare. It is disingenuous of the fur trade to claim that mink and foxes bred over generations are now domesticated. It is still the instinct of a fox to hunt, to play and to dig and of a mink to swim and hunt. But even IF that were true, our dogs and cats are domesticated but we wouldn’t dream of keeping them in those conditions, it’s just not right.”
Moser is now a part-time consultant for Humane Society International/UK, using his knowledge and experience to support the charity’s #FurFreeBritain campaign for a UK fur sales ban. In 2000, the UK announced a ban on fur farming in Britain but didn’t prevent the import and sale of fur from animals farmed overseas. Since the ban came into effect in 2003, almost £800m of fur has been imported into the UK from fur farms in France, Italy, Poland, China and other countries. In 2018 almost £75m of animal fur was imported into the UK, based on pelt auction prices HSI UK estimates that this equates to some 2-3 million animals.
Mike Moser says: “The fur trade is anachronistic. It still fails to recognise that social attitudes towards animals have changed dramatically, that we understand much more clearly sentiency and what constitutes good welfare. The Zeitgeist today is that caging and killing animals for an unnecessary fashion product, that has only vanity value, is unacceptable. The UK banned fur farming two decades ago but for as long as we import and sell the fur from overseas, the UK is still supporting fur farming and trapping by proxy. That’s morally and politically ambiguous, and that’s why I support a UK fur sales ban.”
A new YouGov opinion poll, commissioned by animal charity Humane Society International/UK, reveals that 93% of the British population never worn fur, or no longer wear it, and the majority (72%) support a ban on the sale of fur in the UK.
Claire Bass, executive director of Humane Society International/UK, said: “British people and politicians take pride in being a nation of animal lovers, and so it doesn’t surprise me that it was Mike’s love for his dog Barney that was at the heart of his epiphany that caging and killing animals for their fur is wrong. If the idea of locking a pet dog in a cage for life and then electrocuting and skinning that animal for fur is unthinkable, then it’s not a big leap to feel similar empathy for animals like foxes who endure this cruelty on fur farms. I fully respect Mike’s change of heart, and he now has an important and powerful message for the UK government — if someone like him with a decade’s experience inside the fur industry says it’s right to ban fur sales, then it’s time to take action and end the suffering.”
An Early Day Motion 267 urging the government to introduce legislation banning the import and sale of real fur products has so far been signed by 126 MPs, including Tracey Crouch, Maria Eagle, Dr Lisa Cameron and Tim Farron.
- More than 100 million animals are killed for their fur every year worldwide including mink, fox, raccoon dog, chinchilla and coyote – that’s equal to three animals dying every second, just for their fur. Rabbits are also killed for their fur, likely to be in the hundreds of millions.
- Fur comes with a hefty environmental price tag. Whilst all materials have some eco-footprint, when compared to other textiles, fur takes a significant toll in terms of the C02 emissions associated with keeping and feeding tens of thousands of carnivorous animals on a farm, the manure runoff into lakes and rivers, and the chemicals such as chromium and formaldehyde used to preserve the fur and skin to stop it from rotting.
- An increasing number of fashion designers and retailers are dropping fur cruelty. In the last few years alone Prada, Gucci, Armani, Versace, Michael Kors, Jimmy Choo, DKNY, Burberry, Chanel and other high-profile brands have announced fur-free policies. In addition, online fashion retail platforms Net-A-Porter and Farfetch have introduced no-fur policies.
Media contact: Leozette Roode, HSI/UK Media and Campaigns Manager, email: Lroode@hsi.org telephone: 00 27 713601104
Notes to the editor:
All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 1,682 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 4th – 5th March 2020. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).