Humane Society International / Europe


Cecil the lion
Brent Stapelkamp Cecil the lion.

BRUSSELS—Marking the sixth anniversary of the killing of Cecil the lion by an American trophy hunter, animal and nature protection NGOs, members of the European Parliament, and conservation experts from South Africa, Zimbabwe and Kenya are calling on the EU to ban the import of hunting trophies. In a webinar, Humane Society International/Europe discussed a new analysis of trade data revealing that the European Union is the world’s second biggest hunting trophy importer after the United States, importing nearly 15,000 hunting trophies of 73 internationally protected species between 2014 and 2018.

The issue of trophy hunting has become increasingly controversial over the past decade not simply for the animal cruelty, but also due to concerns about the biodiversity crisis. Momentum is growing to take action to curb hunting trophy imports. France banned the import of lion trophies in 2015 and the Netherlands banned trophy imports of over 200 species in 2016. In Germany two political parties (Greens and Left) have included a trophy import ban in their party manifestos.

The webinar, held in collaboration with the European Parliament’s interest group MEPs for Wildlife, Humane Society International/Europe, Born Free Foundation, Eurogroup for Animals and Pro Wildlife, explored how trophy hunting places unsustainable pressure on endangered and other imperiled species, and whether this practice really does make a significant contribution to wildlife conservation as claimed by its proponents.

German MEP Manuela Ripa (Greens/EFA), who hosted the event, said:

“It is crucial that Members of the European Parliament address the issue of the killing of wild animals, endangered or otherwise, purely for the purpose of procuring trophies to hang on their walls. Especially in the wake of the EU Biodiversity Strategy it is important to consider the impact that European citizens travelling to far-flung destinations solely to shoot and bring home animal body parts may be having on wild animal populations elsewhere around the world. Instead of having tightly regulated trophy hunting, I pledge for tightly regulated ‘photo hunting, which  would have a bigger benefit for species, support ecosystems and the communities involved. I strongly urge the European Commission to address the issue of trophy hunting in its upcoming evaluation of the EU Action Plan against Wildlife Trafficking.”

Dr Joanna Swabe, Humane Society International/Europe’s senior director of public affairs, noted:

“The shocking role of European citizens in global trophy hunting should not be underestimated. Humane Society International’s new EU Trophy Hunting by the Numbers report reveals that shockingly the EU imported nearly 15,000 hunting trophies from 73 species between 2014 and 2018, despite them being protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). It is shameful that the EU is the world’s second largest importer of hunting trophies, bringing in almost 3,000 trophies every year, including African lions and elephants, black rhinos, leopards, zebra, cheetahs, lynx and polar bears. Germany, Spain and Denmark account for 52% of all imported trophies, and the trade data shows that trophy import numbers have actually steadily increased by almost 40% during the period studied despite opinion polls showing that the vast majority of EU citizens oppose the gratuitous practice of killing wild animals for pleasure, display and bragging rights.  The only way we should be shooting wild and endangered animals is with cameras, not guns or arrows.”

Dr Mark Jones, head of policy for the Born Free Foundation, added:

“Born Free is ethically opposed to the hunting or killing of any animal for sport or pleasure. We also challenge the claims made by proponents of trophy hunting that it delivers significant conservation and community benefits, or that it positively contributes to the sustainable use of wildlife. Studies have consistently shown that trophy hunting does not provide a significant source of income to rural people, and certainly pales in comparison to other wildlife-related activities such as ecotourism. The killing of animals by trophy hunters also causes immeasurable animal suffering, and negatively impacts wildlife conservation by removing individual animals that are key to their populations. The trophy hunting industry is wracked by corruption, with excessive quotas being set that are often exceeded. We urge European nations to take action to stop their citizens jetting off to exotic locations to kill and imperil wild animals elsewhere in the world.”

Reineke Hameleers, CEO at Eurogroup for Animals, said:

“The trophy hunting practice of primarily removing the largest and most physically impressive animal specimens, puts species conservation in jeopardy, disrupts social herd structures and weakens gene pools of species that are already threatened. In a time of global biodiversity crisis, it is urgent for the EU and Member States to acknowledge that it is irresponsible to allow rich elites to shoot endangered species for pure pleasure, and finally ban the import of hunting trophies. We need to move away from the unethical consumption of wildlife and look at how the EU can instead encourage and reward investment in wildlife so that concrete and significant benefits can be achieved by local communities through its non-consumptive and ecologically sustainable use. Wild animals should be worth more to these communities alive than dead.”

Daniela Freyer, co-founder of Pro Wildlife, added:

“Germany has the dubious honour of being the top importing nation for hunting trophies in the European Union. It is sickening that a very small minority of my fellow German citizens still enjoy travelling to faraway places to kill animals for fun, pose with their dead bodies for tasteless selfies and hang their body parts on the walls back home. Trophy hunting is not only cruel and unnecessary, but it also poses a significant risk to wildlife conservation and biodiversity. The majority of EU citizens, including Germans, are opposed to the unethical practice of killing wild animals for trophies. It is time for Germany and other EU Member States to act and prohibit the import of hunting trophies.”

Facts

  • Trophy Hunting: Conservation Tool, or a Threat to Wildlife? was organised by MEPs for Wildlife in collaboration with Humane Society International/Europe, Pro Wildlife, Born Free Foundation and Eurogroup for Animals on 30th June 2021 with the participation of the following speakers and panelists:
  • Dr Audrey Delsink, wildlife director, Humane Society International/Africa
  • Paula Kahumbu, wildlife conservationist and CEO, WildlifeDirect; Rolex National Geographic Explorer of the Year
  • Lenin Tinashe Chisaira, environment lawyer and director, Advocates4Earth, Zimbabwe
  • Miet van Looy, International Relations Officer – CITES and EU Wildlife Trade Regulations,DG Environment, European Commission
  • Dr David Scallan – secretary general, European Federation for Hunting and Conservation (FACE)
  • Opinion poll results demonstrate that the vast majority of EU citizens (over 80%) oppose trophy hunting and want to end trophy imports.
  • HSI/Europe’s Trophy Hunting by the Numbers report reveals that Germany, Spain, Denmark, Austria, Sweden, France, Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia are the top trophy importing EU Member States, with Namibia, South Africa, Canada, Russia, Argentina, Kyrgyzstan and the US representing the top exporting countries to the EU. Spain, Poland, Hungary, Germany and the Czech Republic are the top importers of captive lion trophies. EU trophy import statistics for individual animals (2014-2018), include:
    • 3,119 Hartmann’s mountain zebra.
    • 1,751 Chacma baboon.
    • 1,415 American black bear.
    • 1,056 brown bear.
    • 952 African elephant.
    • 889 African lion (of which 660 were captive-bred lions in South Africa).
    • 839 African leopard.
    • 794 hippopotamus.
    • 480 caracal.
    • 415 red lechwe.
    • 297 cheetah – the EU is the largest importer of cheetah trophies in the world.
    • 65 polar bears
    • Six critically endangered black rhinos.

Watch a recording of the webinar.

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Media Contact: Wendy Higgins: whiggins@hsi.org

Almost 3,000 trophies imported annually including zebra, lions, baboons and elephants

Humane Society International / Global


Cathy Smith Wild African elephants

BRUSSELS—A new report published in the week marking the six- year anniversary of the killing of Cecil the lion in Zimbabwe by an American trophy hunter reveals that the European Union is the world’s second biggest hunting trophy importer after the United States. EU Trophy Hunting by the Numbers,issued by Humane Society International/Europe shows that EU countries imported nearly 15,000 hunting trophies of 73 internationally protected species between 2014 and 2018, an average of almost 3,000 trophies every year, including African lions, African elephants and critically endangered black rhinos. Zebras, cheetahs, Asia’s near threatened Argali sheep, and polar bears classified as vulnerable to extinction were also imported. Germany, Spain and Denmark accounted for 52% of all imported trophies. In the five-year period analysed, the EU imported trophies taken from 889 African lions, 229 of whom were wild lions just like Cecil.

Although media reports tend to focus on high profile U.S. trophy hunting incidents such as the killing of Cecil by dentist Walter Palmer or the dead giraffe selfie by Rebecca Francis, HSI’s report shows that the  role of EU hunters in this deadly pastime is often overlooked. Europeans regularly travel to foreign countries to kill iconic species and bring home body parts for display.\

HSI’s comprehensive analysis of trade data from the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) shows that an average of 2,982 trophies are imported into the EU every year, or more than eight trophies every day. Trophy import numbers have been steadily increasing by almost 40% between 2014 and 2018 despite the fact that opinion polls show the vast majority of EU citizens (over 80%) oppose trophy hunting and want to end trophy imports.

EU trophy import statistics for individual animals (2014-2018), include:

  • 3,119 Hartmann’s mountain zebra.
  • 1,751 Chacma baboon.
  • 1,415 American black bear.
  • 1,056 brown bear.
  • 952 African elephant.
  • 889 African lion (of which 660 were captive-bred lions in South Africa).
  • 839 African leopard.
  • 794 hippopotamus.
  • 480 caracal.
  • 415 red lechwe.
  • 297 cheetah—the EU is the largest importer of cheetah trophies in the world.
  • 65 polar bears.
  • Six trophies of critically endangered black rhinos.

Germany, Spain, Denmark, Austria, Sweden, France, Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia are the top trophy importing EU Member States, with Namibia, South Africa, Canada, Russia, Argentina, Kyrgyzstan and the U.S. represent the top exporting countries to the EU. Spain, Poland, Hungary, Germany and the Czech Republic are the top importers of captive lion trophies.

Dr. Jo Swabe, senior director of public affairs, Humane Society International/Europe says: “EU trophy hunters kill for kicks many thousands of wild animals, including endangered or threatened species. In addition to the cruelty, as the world faces a biodiversity crisis, it is irresponsible to allow rich elites to shoot imperiled species for pure pleasure. Being able to have these gruesome body parts shot, stuffed, packed and shipped home for display is a major motivation for these hunters, so if more EU countries were to ban trophy imports, it would effectively help stop the killing.”

Trophy hunting has little to do with conservation or supporting local communities. Hunters pay huge sums of money to kill the strongest and most impressive animals for gratification, display and bragging rights. They enter their achievements into record books kept by trophy hunting membership organizations such as Safari Club International which ascribes competition points for killing the largest animals. Studies show that typically only 3% of money from trophy hunting ever reaches local communities. Wildlife-watching eco-tourism generates far more income and jobs to support conservation and local jobs.

Dr. Swabe from HSI/Europe says: “Killing the largest or strongest animals, who play an important ecological role in genetic diversity and resilience, jeopardises species conservation, disrupts social herd structures and weakens gene pools of wild animal populations already facing a myriad of threats. The conservation argument is a sham employed by people who know it is unsavoury to admit they simply enjoy killing animals for fun and tasteless selfies. With so much at stake, and the vast majority of EU citizens opposed to the killing, it’s time for EU member states to ban trophy imports.”

A few European countries have taken limited action to curb hunting trophy imports. France banned the import of lion trophies in 2015. The Netherlands banned trophy imports of over 200 species in 2016. In February 2021 the UK Prime Minister expressed his government’s intention to end the import of trophies, and in March this year the Finnish parliament presented a motion proposing a trophy import ban. HSI/Europe believes its analysis showing the shocking extent to which EU countries enable the global trophy hunting industry, should inspire member states to introduce comprehensive bans as quickly as possible.

Media Invite:

 On 30th June, HSI/Europe will hold a webinar “Trophy Hunting: Conservation tool, or a threat to wildlife?” in collaboration with MEPs for Wildlife and other NGOs. Hosted by Manuela Ripa MEP (Greens/EFA, Germany), and with guests HSI Africa elephant biologist Dr. Audrey Delsink, WildlifeDirect CEO Dr. Paula Kahumbu, environmental lawyer Lenin Tinashe Chisaira, DG Environment’s Jorge Rodriguez, and Dr. David Scallan from the European Federation for Hunting and Conservation, the webinar will ask whether trophy hunting places unsustainable pressure on endangered species or, as claimed by its exponents, makes a contribution to wildlife conservation and local people. Register to attend.

Download Photos/Videos

Download the Report in French, German, Spanish , Italian and Polish

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Media Contacts:

Notes:

HSI/Europe obtained data for this report from the WCMC-CITES Trade Database website (https://trade.cites.org/) on March 4, 2021. Trade data for the years 2014-2018 were analysed, filtering for mammal species (“Class” = “Mammalia”) and using Comparative Tabulations, with imports calculated based on Importer Reported Quantity and Exports calculated based on Exporter Reported Quantity. To estimate the total number of mammals traded as trophies, we analyzed the term “trophies” for purposes “personal” and “hunting trophy” for all species, as well as several species-specific terms (such as “bodies”, “skins”, “rugs”, etc.) for the purpose “hunting trophy”.

A representative opinion poll conducted in March 2021 and commissioned by HSI/Europe surveyed opinion in Spain, Italy, Denmark, Germany and Poland. Results reveal that 85% of respondents do not support trophy hunting of internationally protected species. A similar proportion (81%) also feel that people should not be allowed to import trophies of dead animals from other countries.

Since 2016, the EU has overtaken the US as the world’s largest importer of captive bred lion trophies after the US listed the African lion in its Endangered Species Act.

The EU is also an exporter of hunting trophies, including foreign species and native species strictly protected under the EU Habitats Directive. The top trophies exported from the EU were from the brown bear, Barbary sheep, African leopard, hippopotamus, Hartmann’s mountain zebra, grey wolf and African elephant. The top five EU Member States exporting mammal trophies of EU and non-EU species were Romania, France, Spain, Denmark and Croatia. During the period of analysis, the EU exported 246 brown bear trophies, nine Eurasian lynx (Lynx lynx) trophies and 35 grey wolf trophies. The top countries of origin for brown bear trophies exported from the EU were Romania, Sweden, Croatia, Germany and Slovenia while the primary countries of origin for Eurasian lynx trophies exported from the EU were Sweden, Russia and Latvia. Romania, Spain, Bulgaria, Latvia and Russia were the key countries of origin of grey wolf trophies exported from the EU.

Calls to tighten up EU wildlife trade rules and address pandemic risks welcomed

Humane Society International / Europe


Tikki Hywood Trust

BRUSSELS—The global decline in biodiversity poses a serious environmental threat and is also inextricably linked to climate change as well as the emergence and spread of infectious diseases. Today the European Parliament adopted a robust report on the EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030, which acknowledges that bold action is needed to halt the loss of biodiversity and protect and restore nature in the EU and beyond.

Dr Joanna Swabe, senior director of public affairs for Humane Society International/Europe, said:

“It is high time to re-evaluate our relationship with other animals and exploitation of the natural world. The COVID-19 pandemic should be a wake-up call to humanity. This coronavirus is the latest in a long line of zoonotic diseases that have wreaked havoc with human health and society. The more we continue to exploit animals for food, fur and even our hobbies and encroach on and/or destroy animals’ natural habitats and lose biodiversity, the greater the opportunities for emerging infectious diseases to spread to human populations. HSI welcomes the Parliament’s report, which addresses many of our own key concerns, such as the need to tackle legal and illegal wildlife trade, marine species protection, achieving coexistence with large carnivores, and trade policy, and we urge the European Commission to act on MEPs recommendations to further strengthen its Biodiversity Strategy and take decisive action to protect nature.”

A very wide range of environmental issues were addressed in the report, but HSI would particularly like to applaud the Parliament’s:

  • Call for global EU leadership to end the commercial trade in endangered species and for the Commission to address both the legal and illegal wildlife trade in the review of the EU Action Plan against Wildlife Trafficking;
  • Request that the Commission to consider adopting a moratorium on imports of wild animals from emerging infectious disease hotspots to minimise the risk of future pandemics;
  • Call for the delivery of a legislative proposal to prohibit the trade in wildlife species taken in violation of the laws of the country of origin since this would close the loopholes in the existing EU Wildlife Trade Regulations;
  • Call for the Commission to revise the Environmental Crime Directive and to recognise environmental crimes and offences, such as Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing and wildlife crime, as serious criminal activities that should be adequately penalised with a strong deterrent effect, especially in the context of organised crime;
  • Request for the Commission to explore the possibility of adding a protocol on wildlife crime to the UN Convention against Transnational Organised Crime;
  • Expresses strong support for the global moratorium on commercial whaling and urging Norway and Japan to cease their whaling operations, in addition to calling for the EU and Member States to urge the International Whaling Commission to formally address Norway’s commercial whaling activities;
  • Observes that there are clear guidelines to implement preventative measures and compensation in regards to conflicts linked to the coexistence with large carnivores to ensure their protection under the EU Habitats Directive;
  • Acknowledgement that fur production significantly compromises animal welfare and increases their susceptibility to infectious diseases including zoonoses, as has occurred with COVID-19 in mink.

Regrettably, MEPs voted in favour of retrograde amendments that weakened robust language adopted by the Parliament’s Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety, which:

  • Demanded a full and immediate EU ban on the trade, import export or re-export in the EU of all ivory;
  • Underlined the importance of facilitating the adoption of sustainable diets, including plant-based diets; recognising that animal agriculture can contribute to biodiversity loss and climate change;

Facts

  • The EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030 was adopted by the European Commission in May 2020 as a key element of the European Green Deal. It is a comprehensive long-term plan, which makes various commitments to protect nature and reverse the degradation of ecosystems.

ENDS

Media contact: Dr Jo Swabe, Humane Society International: jswabe@hsi.org

Humane Society International / Italy


RT-Images/iStock.com

ROME—Iconic Italian fashion designer Valentino is the latest major fashion house to drop fur from its collections and shutting down its fur subsidiary, Valentino Polar. The company’s fur-free policy is part of its efforts to redefine and reinvigorate the brand, which will phase out fur by the end of the year.

Reported in Italian media agency ANSA, Valentino said: “The fur-free stance is perfectly in-line with the values of our company. We are moving full-steam ahead in the research for alternative materials in view of a greater attention to the environment for the upcoming collections.”

This announcement comes as the UK government is considering making Britain the first country in the world to ban the sale of fur. The push for a ban comes now that the UK has left the single market, and just two months after British design house Alexander McQueen and Spanish designer Balenciaga declared a fur-free policy. Valentino joins a rapidly expanding group of fashion designers dropping fur, including Prada, Gucci, Armani, Versace, Michael Kors, Jimmy Choo, DKNY, Burberry and Chanel.

Humane Society International, which together with the Humane Society of the United States met with Valentino in 2019 to discuss its fur policy, welcomes the announcement:

Martina Pluda, director of Humane Society International/Italy, said: “Valentino dropping fur is a major nail in the coffin for the cruel fur trade. Like so many other designers, Valentino knows that using fur makes brands look outdated and out of touch, and fur industry certification schemes are little more that the hollow PR spin of an industry that kills 100 million animals for fur a year. Compassion and sustainability are the new luxury in a world where dressing in the fur of factory farmed foxes or gassed mink is tasteless and cruel. As the UK government considers a ban on fur imports and sales, and countries such as Italy are urged to ban fur farming, the world’s top designers are leading the charge with fur-free fashion.”

FUR FACTS:

  • Fur farming has been banned across the UK since 2003.
  • In 2019, California became the first US state to ban fur sales following similar bans in cities including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Berkeley and West Hollywood.
  • A 2020 YouGov opinion poll, commissioned by animal charity Humane Society International/UK, revealed that 93% of the British population reject wearing real animal fur, and the majority (72%) support a ban on the sale of fur in the UK. The poll also demonstrates Brits’ scathing view of fur – the words that people most closely associate with a fashion brand selling fur are ‘unethical,’ ‘outdated,’ ‘cruel’ and ‘out of touch.’

ENDS

Media Contact: Wendy Higgins, director of international media: whiggins@hsi.org

Notes

2020 YouGov poll: 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+).

Brussels is putting business before science and conservation, say leading wildlife groups

Humane Society International / Europe


Wildestanimal/Alamy Stock Photo Shortfin mako shark

BRUSSELS—The European Union must stop allowing the fishing industry to keep and profit from endangered shortfin mako sharks ‘accidentally’ caught in the North Atlantic, or risk the species going extinct, warn leading animal protection groups Pro Wildlife, Humane Society International/Europe, and Sharkproject. While scientists, NGOs, and the EU’s environmental authorities agree that a mako shark retention ban is needed, the EU’s Directorate-General for Fisheries and Maritime Affairs (DG MARE) is still pushing for a Total Allowable Catch (TAC) quota of 500 tonnes for mako sharks in the North Atlantic. During a virtual webinar – hosted by Portuguese MEP Francisco Guerreiro (Greens/EFA) – the NGOs expressed their disappointment at the EU’s unwillingness to place scientific advice for shark conservation over the business interests of the fishing industry.

Dr Ralf Sonntag, marine expert at Pro Wildlife, stated “Time is running out for the mako shark, so the EU needs to act now, otherwise it risks further declines of an already endangered top predator that is essential for healthy oceans. The science is clear, only an immediate retention ban in the North Atlantic will give makos the chance to continue playing their crucial role in the marine ecosystem. In the South Atlantic, the situation is not yet as critical as it is in the North, but will probably end up following a similar trajectory if overfishing continues.”

Dr Joanna Swabe, senior director of public affairs for Humane Society International/Europe, added: “If fishing boats continue to be allowed to keep and profit from selling endangered mako sharks accidentally caught in their nets, all incentives for them to avoid this bycatch in the first place are removed. Not only is DG MARE’s position counterproductive, but it also risks undermining the Commission’s EU Biodiversity Strategy, which represents a binding political commitment to protecting and restoring biodiversity, including the protection of marine species. If the EU wants to demonstrate global leadership on biodiversity protection, it needs to ensure policy coherence. The EU cannot continue with business as usual ignoring scientific advice when species are threatened with extinction.”

Dr Iris Ziegler, head of international cooperation at Sharkproject, warns: “Even at zero catch it will take probably 50 years for this overfished stock to recover. Mako sharks are highly developed, late maturing sharks, with slow reproduction rates and are therefore especially vulnerable to overfishing. However, fishermen value the bycatch of mako sharks for the market value of their meat and fins and are therefore opposing a retention ban. For the industry, economic interests are clearly more important than conservation of biodiversity.”

The Intersessional meeting of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT), which is also responsible for the ‘sustainable’ management of Atlantic sharks, will take place from 6th to 8th July 2021. In recent years, Brussels has blocked proposals from Canada, Senegal, and other Contracting Parties for a retention ban for makos in the North Atlantic. In so doing, the EU has consistently ignored the advice from ICCAT’s scientific body, the Standing Committee on Research and Statistics, for a retention ban without exceptions.

Fast facts:

  • Shortfin mako sharks are globally endangered, and in the Mediterranean Sea they are even critically endangered.
  • Given their threatened status and overexploitation, mako sharks were listed on Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) in 2019.
  • International trade and introduction from the sea are now only permitted if a so-called Non-Detriment-Finding (NDF) ensures sustainable offtakes.
  • In December 2020, the CITES Scientific Authorities of the EU stated a negative opinion for NDF for makos from the North Atlantic.
  • Spain and Portugal, the biggest fishing nations within the EU, responded to the decision by issuing a landing ban for makos from the high sea, and Spain even from national waters. Nevertheless, DG MARE continues to insist on a TAC at ICCAT and a share of 288 tonnes for EU fleets.
  • With swim speeds of more than 70 km/h, makos are the world’s fastest sharks in the high seas. As apex predators, they play a key role in marine ecosystems and the conservation of marine biodiversity. Their extinction could have massive consequences, not just in the Atlantic.

View a recording of the webinar.

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Media contacts:

The Humane Society of the United States and Humane Society International celebrate as more Kering brands join fur-free Gucci and Bottega Veneta

Humane Society International / Europe


RT-Images/iStock.com

PARIS—Iconic British fashion houses Alexander McQueen and luxury Spanish designer Balenciaga are the latest Kering-owned brands to announce fur-free policies. Humane Society International and the Humane Society of the United States have been working with Kering, and its brands, for more than a decade on adopting a fur-free policy. McQueen and Balenciaga are the latest to join a rapidly expanding group of fashion designers dropping fur, including Prada, Gucci, Armani, Versace, Michael Kors, Jimmy Choo, DKNY, Burberry and Chanel.

The fur-free announcement was made in  Kering’s 2020 Universal Registration document, which reads “Most of the Group’s Houses do not use fur. For example, Gucci is part of the Fur Free Retailer program promoted by NGO Fur Free Alliance, and has banned the use of furs across its entire range since its Spring/Summer 2018 collections. Gucci is also committed to no longer using angora. Balenciaga, Alexander McQueen and MCQ also no longer use fur in their collections.”

Gucci previously announced its fur-free policy in 2017, and according to Bottega Veneta, they’ve been fur-free for nearly 20 years. Only Kering’s Saint Laurent and Brioni have yet to announce fur-free policies.

Kitty Block, president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States and CEO of Humane Society International, said, “Every time a big fashion name like Alexander McQueen or Balenciaga goes fur-free, it sends a clear message that fur has no place in a modern society. This is a statement that consumers care more about sustainable solutions than the fur trim on a bag or a coat. We look forward to continuing our work with Kering, and the rest of the industry, to ensure that humane and innovative materials are the future of fashion.”

This announcement comes as several cities, states and even entire countries look to ban fur sales. In 2019, California became the first US state to ban furs sales, after several of its cities—including Los Angeles and San Francisco—passed similar legislation. Lawmakers in several other US states have already introduced fur sales bans in 2021, and in the United Kingdom, which banned fur production in 2003, the government is now considering calls for the UK to become the first country to ban fur sales.

ENDS

Media contacts:

Humane Society International / Europe


Tikki Hywood Trust

BRUSSELS—At an online event on the revision of the EU Environmental Crime Directive—organised in collaboration with MEPs for Wildlife—Humane Society International/Europe and International Fund for Animal Welfare issued a call for wildlife crime to be recognised as a serious criminal activity.

Dr. Joanna Swabe, senior director of public affairs for HSI/Europe, said:

“Tragically, wildlife trafficking is often seen as a low-risk and highly profitable activity which makes it highly attractive to transnational organised crime networks, especially those with smuggling capabilities. Many law enforcement agencies treat wildlife trafficking and other forms of wildlife crime as a low priority and many EU Member States still only invoke relatively weak penalties. In its EU Biodiversity Strategy, the European Commission committed to reviewing the current Environmental Crime Directive. It is high time that wildlife crime is recognised as a serious criminal activity that should be heavily penalised.”

Eleonora Panella, senior campaigner at IFAW EU, added:

“It is vital that there is far better cooperation between EU Member States when it comes to tackling transnational crimes, particularly when environmental crimes, specifically wildlife trafficking, converge with other forms of organised crime, such as money-laundering, narcotics and terrorism. Wildlife crime is highly damaging to biodiversity and the survival of species, yet criminals regard illegal wildlife trade as being relatively low-risk and high income generating because of the lack of severe penalties and low chances of being apprehended or prosecuted. The European Commission needs to take action to make sure that wildlife crime does not pay.”

The event, which was hosted by Belgian MEP Hilde Vautmans and included high-level speakers, such as Catherine De Bolle, executive director of Europol and Jorge Rios, chief of the United Nation’s Office on Drugs and Crime Global Programme for Combating Wildlife and Forest Crime, considered the issue of whether wildlife crime should be recognised as a serious criminal activity that should be heavily penalised, especially in the context of transnational organised crime.

Other panelists included:

  • Wouter van Ballegooij, legal and policy officer on criminal law for the Commission’s Directorate-General for Justice and Consumers
  • Francesca Carlsson, legal officer for the European Environmental Bureau
  • Daan van Uhm, criminologist for the Willem Pompe Institute for Criminal Law and Criminology, Utrecht University
  • Mário Kern and Ondrej Koporec, Department for Detection of Hazardous Substances and Environmental Crime, Criminal Police Bureau, Slovakia
  • José Antonio Alfaro Moreno, team leader for the European Serious and Organised Crime Centre, EU Organised Crime Unit, Europol

Watch a recording of the event.

ENDS

Media contact: Wendy Higgins: whiggins@hsi.org

Humane Society International urges Italy to permanently ban fur farming to protect people and animals

Humane Society International / Europe


Jo-Anne McArthur/We Animals

ROME—The Italian government has announced last night it will extend suspension of mink fur farming until 31 December 2021. The decision comes in the wake of the SARS-CoV-2 virus having been found on two mink farms so far in Italy. Italy has six fur farms with approximately 60,000 mink, 26,000 of whom were culled following the previous ordinance published in November last year by Italian Health Minister Roberto Speranza. Eleven countries in total (including nine EU member states) have now officially identified COVID-19 positive animals on mink farms: Denmark (290 farms), Netherlands (69 farms), Greece (23 farms), United States (16 farms), Sweden (13 farms), Spain (3 farms), Lithuania (2 farms), Canada (2 farms), Italy (2 farms), France (1 farm), Poland (1 farm).

Humane Society International, which campaigns globally for an end to the fur trade, welcomes the news but urges the Italian government to end the cruelty and public health risks by permanently ending fur farming. In December last year, HSI published a white paper highlighting the link between fur farming, poor animal welfare and infectious zoonotic disease.

Humane Society International’s director for Italy Martina Pluda, said: “While we applaud the Italian government for extending its temporary suspension of mink fur farming, to truly address the unacceptable risk of COVID-19 that fur farming represents, we urge it to permanently shut down this cruel and dangerous industry. Confining thousands of animals in small wire cages for fur production not only causes terrible suffering, but for as long as this exploitation is tolerated, and these wild species are crowded together in close proximity in low-welfare conditions, the potential for reservoirs of animal to human pathogens will persist.

Extending the temporary suspension is an important step, but if the government allows mink farming to start up again in 2022 in Italy, it will be placing the commercial interests of frivolous fur fashion ahead of the health of the public, and turning a blind eye to the suffering of thousands of animals.”

Earlier this month the European Food Safety Agency reported that all mink farms should be considered at risk for COVID-19 outbreaks. In January 2021, a Risk Assessment published jointly by the World Health Organization, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, and World Organisation for Animal Health recognised Europe as a high-risk region in relation to the introduction and spread of SARS-CoV-2 within fur farms, in addition to the spill-over from fur farms to humans, and the transmission of SARS-CoV-2 from fur farms to susceptible wildlife populations. More specifically, it rated the risk factors and likelihood of introduction and spread of SARS-CoV-2 within fur farms in Italy as “likely”.

Fur Facts:

  • On 27th October last year, it became publicly known that in August 2020 SARS-CoV-2 had been detected on a mink farm in Lombardy. This information only came to light after the submission of an information request by campaign organization LAV to the competent authorities. The OIE was only notified on 30th October.
  • On 2nd February 2021 a further five positive tests were confirmed on a mink farm in the Veneto region. Furthermore, serology tests were performed on a sample of 60 mink, 90% of which showed antibodies, confirming that almost all animals on the farm had come into contact with the virus.
  • An estimated 53 million mink are farmed for their fur in more than 20 countries around the world. The top three mink farming countries in Europe in 2018 were Denmark (17.6 million mink), Poland (5 million mink) and the Netherlands (4.5million mink). In August 2020 the Dutch government agreed to fast-track the permanent closure of its fur farms from a previous deadline of 2024 to January 2021 to prevent long term COVID-19 virus reservoirs forming on affected farms. Denmark killed all its mink in 2020 and has ended the keeping, import and export of mink until 31 December 2021; Sweden has suspended mink breeding and the movement of live mink until 31 December 2021; and mink fur farming has reportedly been halted in Belgium.
  • China farmed 11.6 million mink for fur in 2019, a sharp decrease from 20.6 million mink in 2018.
  • Fur farming has been banned in the UK since 2003. Over the past two decades, 21 countries have either voted to ban fur farming, prohibited the farming of particular species, or have introduced stricter regulations that have effectively curtailed the practice. These include numerous European nations such as Austria, Belgium, Bosnia-Herzegovina, the Czech Republic, Croatia, Macedonia, the Netherlands, Norway, Luxembourg, Serbia, Slovakia and Slovenia. Most recently the government in Hungary declared a ban on the farming of animals including mink and foxes, France committed to a phase out mink farms by 2025, and the Irish government made a commitment to bring forward legislation in 2021.
  • Bulgaria, Estonia, Lithuania, Montenegro, Poland and Ukraine are also presently considering bans on fur farming and in Finland the majority party of the coalition government recently announced its support for a ban on fur farms.

ENDS

Media contacts:

Humane Society International / Europe


Jillian Cooper/iStock.com Wild mink

BRUSSELS—On the cusp of the mink breeding season, which is set to resume at the end of this month, the European Food Safety Agency has released a report finding that all mink farms should be considered at risk for COVID-19 outbreaks and must be strictly monitored. Following the release of this report, animal protection groups FOUR PAWS, Humane Society International/Europe, Eurogroup for Animals and Fur Free Alliance—and their member organisations—have issued a strong call urging the European Commission to instruct Member States to immediately suspend mink production.

“The only way to keep EU citizens safe is to immediately suspend mink production in the Member States where this cruel practice is still legal before the breeding season starts,” said Joh Vinding, Chair of the Fur Free Alliance. “If this does not happen, the current mink population will increase five-fold by May. Even though only the breeding animals are present right now, there have still been COVID-19 outbreaks on mink farms in Spain and Poland. If the mink population is allowed to grow and all the cages on the fur farms are filled, the risk of disease transmission will likely also increase. The past year has shown that, irrespective of all monitoring and biosecurity protocols taken, the SARS-CoV-2 virus can spread uncontrollably amongst mink populations. At the time of this global health crisis, such risks need to be eliminated entirely.”

The EFSA report notes that in regions with a high density of fur farms, the SARS-CoV-2 virus is likely to spread from one mink farm to the next. EFSA recommends that Member States not only implement passive, but also active monitoring systems. They advise that measures should include frequently testing all people who come into contact with mink, testing samples from dead or sick animals, testing of wild mustelids captured near fur farms and genetic sequencing analysis for tracing the origins of outbreaks and identifying possible viral mutations.

“Implementing such measures is extremely costly and will largely be financed by taxpayers’ money, despite the fact that the majority of EU citizens are opposed the practice of fur farming,” said Pierre Sultana, Director of Four Paws European Policy Office. “We know, for example, that just for one single farm, the Italian authorities spent a total of €50,000 between August and November 2020 to implement biosecurity measures. Regardless of the expense, one thing is patently clear: biosecurity and monitoring measures have their limitations and are not as effective as were originally believed. While they can help to detect outbreaks early on, they cannot entirely prevent mink from becoming infected. This is why we, as animal protection NGOs, have united in our call to immediately suspend all mink production in the EU.”

“The necessity of halting mink production has become even more urgent following the recent discovery of the  so-called ‘Cluster 5’ mutation of SARS-CoV-2 in German patients,” said Dr Joanna Swabe, Senior Director of public affairs for Humane Society International/Europe. “This dangerous mutation of the virus that originated in Danish mink was believed to have been eradicated after the mass culling of Denmark’s entire mink herd last year. However, these recent cases suggest that the authorities were not entirely successful in eradicating this dangerous viral mutation, which could potentially undermine the efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines in humans. We applaud Sweden for already taking action to ban mink breeding in 2021. Reportedly Belgian fur farmers have also voluntarily taken a decision to suspend breeding due to the risks associated with COVID-19. It is vital that the remaining Member States that still permit fur production follow their example.”

“The demand to suspend mink production is supported by a statement signed by numerous scientists from the fields of virology, infectious diseases, clinical microbiology and veterinary medicine, which confirms the serious threat that fur farming poses to human health,” said Reineke Hameleers, Director of Eurogroup for Animals. “It calls for the immediate suspension of mink farming as an appropriate, precautionary and proportionate measure based on public health concerns. The experts behind this statement, as well as EFSA, point out that due to the confined living conditions of animals in fur farms, once the virus has been introduced, it is almost impossible to stop transmission. The high number of individuals living in close proximity also provide ideal conditions for virus mutations to occur, as seen in Denmark New variants may not respond to the vaccines that are currently available and could cause significant setbacks in Europe’s efforts to battle the virus.”

Notwithstanding our unwavering position that fur farming should be permanently banned across the EU due to unacceptable animal welfare outcomes and future potential public health risks, in the interim, we are calling on the European Commission to act immediately to suspend mink farming, the breeding of mink, and the import and export of live mink and their raw pelts, across the European Union.

ENDS

Media Contact: Wendy Higgins: 07989 972423; Whiggins@hsi.org

Humane Society International urges Sweden to permanently ban fur farming to protect people and animals

Humane Society International


Mark Hicken, Alamy Stock photo

LONDON—The Swedish government has today announced it will  suspend mink fur farming throughout 2021, in the wake of the SARS-CoV-2 virus having been found on 13 mink farms in Sweden so far. Sweden has approximately 40 mink fur farms and produced around 500,000 mink pelts in 2020.

Humane Society International, which campaigns globally for an end to the fur trade, welcomes the news but urges the Swedish government to permanently end the cruelty and public health risks by permanently ending fur farming. Thus far the government has said breeding mink will not be culled. In December, HSI published a white paper highlighting the link between fur farming, poor animal welfare and infectious zoonotic disease.

Dr Joanna Swabe, senior director of public affairs for Humane Society International/Europe, says: “While we applaud the Swedish government for taking the decision to suspend mink farming, we urge it to go further and permanently shut down this cruel and dangerous industry. Confining millions of animals to small wire cages for fur production not only causes terrible suffering and deprivation, but scientists have also concluded that they could represent a serious reservoir for SARS-CoV-2 and thus pose a very real risk to public health. The Swedish authorities have also recognised that the biosecurity measures taken so far have proved insufficient. We call on all Member States where fur farming persists to shut down this sector for good. For as long as the exploitation of animals for fur is tolerated, the potential for reservoirs of animal to human pathogens will persist. Sweden has taken an important step but must now prioritise human and animal welfare over the frivolous fur fashion industry by permanently making fur history.” 

Fur Facts:

  • An estimated 53 million mink are farmed for their fur in more than 20 countries around the world, with the top three production countries in Europe in 2018 were Denmark (17.6 million mink), Poland (5 million mink) and the Netherlands (4.5million mink). China farmed 11.6 million mink for their fur in 2019, a sharp decrease from 20.6 million mink in 2018.
  • Eight EU Member States have officially identified COVID-19 positive animals on mink farms: Denmark (290 farms), France (1 farm), Greece (21 farms), Italy (1 farm), Lithuania (2 farms), Netherlands (70 farms), Spain (3 farms), Sweden (13 farms). COVID-19 has also been confirmed on mink fur farms in the United States and Canada.
  • Fur farming has been banned in the UK since 2003, and has been prohibited and/or is in the process of being phased-out in numerous European nations such as Austria, Belgium, Bosnia-Herzegovina, the Czech Republic, Croatia, Macedonia, the Netherlands, Norway, Luxembourg, Serbia, Slovakia and Slovenia. Most recently the government in Hungary declared a ban on the farming of animals including mink and foxes, France committed to a phase out mink farms by 2025, and the Irish government made a commitment to end fur farming.
  • Bulgaria, Estonia, Lithuania, Montenegro, Poland and Ukraine are also presently considering bans on fur farming and in Finland the majority party of the coalition government recently announced its support for a ban on fur farms.
  • In the United States, California became the first US state to ban fur sales in 2019 following similar bans in cities including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Berkeley and West Hollywood. In 2020, legislators in Hawaii and Rhode Island introduced fur sales ban proposals. The town of Wellesley, Massachusetts, passed a fur sales ban last year.

ENDS

Media contact: Leozette Roode, media and campaigns manager HSI/UK, LRoode@hsi.org, +27(0)713601104

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