The Fur Trade

Humane Society International


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 from 2018:

  • Canada – total 1.8m (1.76m mink; 2,360 fox)
  • US – total 3.1m mink
  • European Union – total 37.8m (34.7m mink; 2.7m foxes; 166,000 raccoon dogs; 227,000 chinchilla)
  • China – total 50.5m (20.7m mink; 17.3m fox; 12.3m raccoon dogs)

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. In 2017, more than 3 million animals were killed for their pelts by trapping in North America. 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, over the past two decades twenty countries have either voted to ban the practice, have prohibited the farming of particular species, or have introduced stricter regulations that have effectively curtailed the practice.

Fur farming has been banned in Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Belgium, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, North Macedonia, Norway, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia and the United Kingdom. Legislation is also progressing in France and Ireland, and a number of other countries are currently considering banning fur farming. In Germany (effective 2022), Sweden and Switzerland, the stricter welfare requirements on fur farms have effectively made the practice economically unviable. In New Zealand, the import of mink is prohibited, which effectively bans mink farming in the country, and fur farming has ended in Japan. See the latest list.

Have any countries banned fur sales?

Yes, in 2021 Israel became the first country in the world to ban real fur sales. In the United States, California became the first US state to ban the sale of fur in 2019 following similar bans in cities including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Berkeley and West Hollywood. The towns of Weston and Wellesley in Massachusetts and the city of Ann Arbor in Michigan banned fur sales in 2020 and 2021, and more US cities and states are looking to follow suit in the future. In the UK, the government is considering action on fur sales.

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.

Numerous recent investigations at so-called certified “high welfare” mink, fox and raccoon dog farms in Finland have revealed a catalogue of deplorable conditions and distressing suffering, including over-sized “monster foxes,” animals with open wounds, deformed feet, diseased eyes, and even incidents of mink being driven to cannibalism.

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, 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.

 

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