Country’s leading animal protection charities urge prime minister: ‘Save the Animals Abroad Bill’

Humane Society International / United Kingdom


Kristo Muurimaa/Oikeutta Elaimille

LONDON—New U.K. national polling from the #DontBetrayAnimals campaign, backed by a group of 14 of the country’s leading animal protection charities including Humane Society International/UK, shows British voters want to see the government deliver on its promise to protect animals. Polling comes almost exactly a year since publication of the government’s Action Plan for Animal Welfare, and amid rumours No.10 is considering abandoning the Animals Abroad Bill, which includes fur and foie gras bans.

Almost three quarters (72%) of respondents want to see this government pass more laws designed to improve animal welfare and protect animals from cruelty, and over three quarters (77%) want to see the government ban the importation of animal products where the production methods are already banned in the UK, including fur. Fewer than one in 10 respondents disagree that such an import ban should be introduced.

The campaigners are calling on the government to respond to the public’s wishes and include the Animals Abroad Bill in the upcoming Queen’s Speech. The new seat-by-seat MRP analysis of the polling illustrates the political, as well as moral, imperative for doing so.

If the government fails to deliver on its commitments to animals, as set out in its May 2021 Action Plan for Animal Welfare, this will be at odds with voters’ interests, as illustrated by the poll highlights, which estimate:

  • Almost three quarters (73%) of voters in seats held by cabinet ministers want to see the government pass more laws to protect animals.
  • Support for banning fur and other cruel imports is even higher in cabinet members’ constituencies (79%) than the national average.
  • Passing laws to protect animals is a doorstep issue for supporters of every major political party – only Brexit Party voters registered less than majority support, although almost half (48%) still support more laws to improve animal welfare.
  • Crucially, almost three quarters (72%) of voters in 20 of Conservative seats identified as the most marginally held want to see the government pass more laws to protect animals.
  • Constituencies in the former Red Wall (constituencies which historically tend to support the Labour Party), also showed strong support for animal protection legislation, with seven in 10 (70%) voters supporting import bans on low welfare products such as fur.

The poll also revealed consistent support for animal protection across a range of voter demographics:

  • Support for the government to pass more laws to improve animal welfare is equally high amongst all household social grades (AB: 71%, C1:72%, C2:72%, DE:71%). Support for banning the importation of animal products like fur is highest amongst AB household respondents (79%), but not significantly lower amongst DE households (74%).
  • Only 8% of women and 12% of men disagreed with the idea that the government should ban the importation of animal products like fur.
  • Support for the government to pass more animal protection laws is marginally higher amongst rural respondents (73%) than urban respondents (72%). Likewise, rural support for banning low animal welfare product imports like fur is slightly higher (80%) than urban support (76%).

The MRP analysis of the results challenge the narrative that the wants and needs of city dwellers are drastically at odds with rural residents, with the constituency of North East Somerset (76%) almost equally aligned with Islington North (75%) when it comes to wanting to see the government pass more legislation to protect animals.

The constituency of North East Somerset was found in the poll to have the joint eighth highest level of support for a ban on the importation of cruel animal products such as fur (North East Somerset; 83%), exceeding that of Islington North (80%).

The government needs to act fast to deliver what the electorate wants—by including the Animals Abroad Bill in the upcoming Queen’s Speech and fulfilling promises to legislate to protect animals it made in both its manifesto and Action Plan for Animal Welfare, including banning live exports.

Claire Bass, executive director of Humane Society International/UK, said: “Our new poll leaves no doubt that we’re a nation of animal lovers, and that the British public expect the government to deliver more animal protection laws. In terms of showing it is in tune with public opinion, banning the importation of cruelly produced products, such as fur and foie gras, is an open goal for Number 10. We urge Boris Johnson to ensure that the forthcoming Queen’s Speech delivers on the Conservative’s 2019 manifesto promise to better protect animals, both at home and abroad.”

Jessica Terry, World Animal Protection UK external affairs manager, said: “The government has repeatedly promised to introduce the Animals Abroad Bill, however we are yet to see any action. Through this bill, the prime minister promised to end the horrors of trophy hunting and cruel animal entertainment and we will continue to speak up until this legislation is passed. All animals deserve happy and healthy lives.”

Sonul Badiani-Hamment, FOUR PAWS UK country director said: “It is clear from this new polling that there is overwhelming public support for greater protection for animals, across political divides. We are almost a year on from the Action Plan for Animal Welfare and have had nothing but empty promises from the government. We urge the prime minister to seize the opportunity of the Queen’s Speech to save the Animals Abroad Bill, and urgently bring forward bans on fur, foie gras and trophy hunting imports in the next parliamentary session. With this legislation, the UK Government has a unique chance to assert its global leadership in animal welfare, sending a clear message that animal cruelty will neither be tolerated nor imported.”

Emma Slawinski, RSPCA director of policy & communications, said: “The Queen’s Speech will be an acid test of the government’s true commitment to honouring the animal welfare pledges it has made to the public. Its foot-dragging over the Animals Abroad Bill has been shameful, particularly in light of the new research showing such huge public appetite for legislation to protect animals.

“Announcing a ban on foie gras and fur imports as part of the Animals Abroad Bill on May 10 would be a good start and an opportunity for the government to demonstrate that rather than outsourcing animal cruelty, it really is committed to a better deal for animals. It would also be a strong signal that the government intends to keep its word on other animal welfare legislation, such as the Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) Bill in the future.”

James West, senior policy manager at Compassion in World Farming, said: “Compassion in World Farming warmly welcomed the publication of the Action Plan for Animal Welfare, including proposals to ban live exports for slaughter and fattening and ending the import or sale of foie gras. Despite the encouraging words offered by the government, one year on we have seen little progress – the Kept Animals Bill has not been in parliament since November, and the foie gras ban is at risk of being completely dropped. This polling highlights the fact that people expect the government to now keep its promises and progress both the Kept Animals and Animals Abroad Bills with urgency in the next parliamentary session.”

ENDS

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

Notes to editors

  • Groups backing the #DontBetrayAnimals campaign are: Animal Aid, Animal Equality UK, Born Free Foundation, Compassion in World Farming, FOUR PAWS UK, Humane Society International/UK, The Humane League UK, League Against Cruel Sports, LUSH, Naturewatch Foundation, PETA UK, RSPCA, Save The Asian Elephants, World Animal Protection UK.
  • The polling was run on the Focaldata platform. Data was collected from a nationally representative sample of 10,018 adults between 11th and 20th April 2022. Using the polling data, Focaldata completed a constituency-level analysis using MRP modelling.
  • Over three quarters (77%) of voters think UK Government should ban the importation of animal products, such as fur, where farming and production methods are banned in the UK, including:
    • 82% of women and 72% of men
    • 61% of 18 – 24 year olds, 73% of 25-36 year olds, 76% 35 – 44 year olds, 82% of 45 – 54 year olds, 82% 55 – 64 year olds, 81% of 65+ year olds
  • The MRP polling analysis estimates support amongst:
    • over three quarters (78%) of the 10, 15 and 20 most marginal Conservative-held seats
    • almost three quarters (74%) of Red Wall voters
    • over three quarters (79%) of voters in the Cabinet’s constituencies
  • Fifteen cabinet members with 80%+ support are: Dominic Raab, Liz Truss, Sajid Javid, Kwasi Kwarteng, Alok Sharma, Anne-Marie Trevelyan, Therese Coffey, Nadhim Zahawi, George Eustice, Brandon Lewis, Chris Heaton-Harris, Suella Braverman, Kit Malthouse, Michelle Donelan and Jacob Rees-Mogg.
  • Almost three quarters (72%) of voters would like to see the UK Government pass more laws designed to improve animal welfare and protect animals from cruelty, including:
    • 75% of women and 69% of men
    • 66% of 18 – 24 year olds, 75% of 25 – 34 year olds, 74% of 35 – 44 year olds, 74% of 45 – 55 year olds, 73% of 55 – 64 year olds, 69% of 65+ years old
  • The MRP polling analysis estimates support amongst:
    • Over three quarters (72%) of the 1-0,15 and 20 most marginal Conservative held seats
    • Almost three quarters (70%) of Red Wall voters
    • Almost three quarters (72%) of voters in the Cabinet’s constituencies

Naturalist Chris Packham joins Humane Society International/UK in celebrating ban

Humane Society International / United Kingdom


CreativeNature_nl/iStock.com

LONDON—The public’s use of glue traps to catch mice and rats will be banned across England after a government-backed Private Members Bill received unanimous support during its third and final reading today in the House of Lords. The ban has been welcomed by animal charity Humane Society International/UK, which led the “Unstuck” campaign to end the public use of the “inhumane, indiscriminate and indefensible” glue boards, which immobilise the small mammals in strong adhesive in which they can suffocate, rip off skin and fur and break their limbs in desperate efforts to escape.

Despite their potential to cause prolonged and extreme animal suffering, glue traps are currently widely sold to the public in DIY and corner shops, as well as online, for as little as 99p. The traps also pose a serious risk to other species, with numerous reports each year of animals—including protected and endangered species like hedgehogs, wild birds and bats, and even pet cats—being caught and suffering often fatal injuries.

The legislation contains a limited exemption for so-called “pest” control operatives to apply to the Secretary of State for a licence to use a glue trap, which may be granted where there is “no other satisfactory solution” and where the action is required for “the purpose of preserving public health or safety”. The exemption mirrors that of the 2015 glue trap ban in New Zealand, where glue trap licences have fallen year on year since the ban’s introduction, with no approvals for use in 2021.

Claire Bass, executive director of Humane Society International/UK, said: “Glue traps are crude devices that cause horrific suffering to millions of animals. It is absolutely right that their public use will be banned, and we hope this will precipitate their removal from sale by retailers since it will be illegal for their customers to use them. It is immoral to subject small, sentient wildlife to being immobilised on these sticky boards, only to suffocate in the glue, die slowly of their injuries, or be ineptly killed by unprepared members of the public who resort to drowning or throwing them in the rubbish while still alive. The licensing regime for glue trap use by the ‘pest’ control industry will need to be strictly managed to ensure that these cruel products are no longer casually used with impunity.”

Once the Bill receives Royal Assent, the new law will make it an offence in England for a member of the public or any “pest” controller without a licence to set a glue trap to either deliberately or accidentally catch a rodent, with a fine and/or up to 51 weeks in prison. Discovering a glue trap but failing, without reasonable excuse, to ensure it is disabled will also constitute an offence.

Naturalist and campaigner Chris Packham, who supported HSI/UK’s Unstuck campaign, joined the charity in welcoming the ban, saying: “When wildlife, like mice and rats, are successful at living alongside humans, we label them ‘pests’ or ‘vermin’ and seem to think that’s a green light to completely disregard their welfare. Glue traps are a prime example of this. That attitude has to change. I commend HSI/UK on their Unstuck campaign victory and I’m delighted that cruel and unnecessary glue traps will now be taken out of public use, prompting a more compassionate and also effective approach to dealing with unwanted wildlife. This law is great news for mice and rats, but also for the many unintended victims who get stuck in the glue, such as delicate birds, grass snakes, frogs and hedgehogs.”

Conservative MP Jane Stevenson, who sponsored the Bill, said: “I am absolutely thrilled that my Glue Traps Bill has passed its Third Reading, meaning it will soon receive Royal Assent and become law. The banning of the use of glue traps by the general public is another step forward in the strengthening of animal welfare legislation in England, and I want to thank everyone involved in making this happen. The use of glue traps is cruel and barbaric, and has often led to animals not intended to be caught in these traps dying in the most inhumane way. Together with ministers at Defra and organisations such as HSI/UK, the RSPCA and others, I am pleased to have made a positive difference.”

HSI/UK advocates an ethical approach to wildlife management, addressing the root cause of problems through human behaviour change strategies and wildlife control and mitigation measures that are humane, with lethal interventions used only as a last resort to protect public health and safety. As well as being inhumane, killing animals like mice and rats typically does not offer a permanent solution to the problems their presence might cause, whereas measures such as removing food sources and blocking up access holes are effective in addressing such situations.

The ban will come into effect in England two years after receiving Royal Assent. In Scotland, the government made a commitment in January this year to ban glue traps following a review by the Scottish Animal Welfare Commission, and the Welsh government has also been seeking stakeholder views on a possible ban.

ENDS 

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

Fans can vote online to help Save Ralph win internet’s top honor

Humane Society International


HSI

WASHINGTON, DC—Humane Society International announced today that Save Ralph has been nominated for best Public Service & Activism video in the 26th Annual Webby Awards. Hailed as the “Internet’s highest honor” by The New York Times, The Webby Awards, presented by the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences, is the leading international awards organization honoring excellence on the Internet.

Save Ralph is a stop-motion animation short film produced in several languages by Humane Society International (HSI) in support of its global campaign to end cosmetic testing on animals. Written and directed by Spencer Susser and produced by Jeff Vespa in partnership with HSI and the Arch Model studio of puppet maker Andy Gent, the film features HSI’s campaign spokesbunny Ralph, as he goes through his daily routine as a “tester” in a lab. HSI’s #SaveRalph campaign tackles the disturbing issue of animal testing in an original and unexpected way—using the story of one bunny to shine a light on the plight of countless rabbits and other animals suffering in laboratories around the world, engaging viewers to help ban animal testing for cosmetics. The English-language film features a star-studded cast including Oscar winner Taika Waititi as Ralph, along with Ricky Gervais, Zac Efron, Olivia Munn, Pom Klementieff and Tricia Helfer. Save Ralph was also produced in French, Portuguese, Spanish and Vietnamese, and subtitled in multiple other languages, to support HSI’s efforts to reach hearts and minds of consumers and lawmakers in Canada, Brazil, Chile, Mexico, Southeast Asia and beyond.

“Nominees like Save Ralph are setting the standard for innovation and creativity on the Internet,” said Claire Graves, president of The Webby Awards. “It is an incredible achievement to be selected among the best from the 13,500 entries we received this year.”

“We are absolutely thrilled that Save Ralph is being recognized by the Webby Awards. This nomination provides a fantastic opportunity for Ralph to continue shining a global spotlight on the cruelty of cosmetic testing on animals to a new audience and the need to ban this practice around the world,” said Donna Gadomski, Save Ralph executive producer and HSI senior director of external affairs.

“Save Ralph has had a tremendous impact on Humane Society International’s efforts to end cosmetic testing on animals globally since its premiere last April,” said Troy Seidle, Save Ralph executive producer and HSI vice president of research and toxicology. “This film has motivated millions of people around the world to sign HSI’s petition to outlaw this cruel and obsolete practice, propelling Mexico to become the first North American country to ban cosmetic testing on animals, and is helping advance our legislative efforts in several other countries. We’re excited that the Webby recognition may help continue this momentum.”

As a nominee, Save Ralph is also eligible to win a Webby People’s Voice Award, which is voted online by fans across the globe. From now until April 21st, Save Ralph fans can cast their votes at Webby Awards People’s Voice .

Winners will be announced on Tuesday, April 26, 2022, and honored in a star-studded show at Cipriani Wall Street. Winners will have an opportunity to deliver one of The Webby Awards’ famous 5-Word Speeches. Past 5-Word Speeches include: Steve Wilhite’s “It’s Pronounced “Jif” not ‘Gif’; NASA’s “Houston We Have A Webby”; and Solange’s “I Got Five On It.”

ENDS

Media contact: Cassie Bodin-Duval, international coordinator in media relations: cbodinduval@hsi.org

Alesha Dixon and Joanna Lumley join 50 animal protection organisations in celebrating new law recognising animals have feelings, and a new Committee to protect their welfare.

Humane Society International / United Kingdom


Guy Harrop/Alamy

LONDON—Animal protection organisations and celebrities are today celebrating the Animal Welfare (Sentience) Bill passing its final hurdle in the House of Lords. Once the Bill receives Royal Assent, the new law will be known as the Animal Welfare (Sentience) Act 2022.

The passage of the Bill is welcomed by the Better Deal for Animals, an alliance of 50 of the UK’s leading animal organisations, including the RSPCA, Humane Society International/UK, Compassion in World Farming, FOUR PAWS UK and Wildlife and Countryside Link, which was formed in 2019 to campaign for reinstating the recognition of animal sentience in UK law. Animal sentience was the only piece of EU legislation that was not transposed when the UK formally left the EU on 1st January 2021.

Alesha Dixon, whose petition secured over 100,000 signatures in the campaign for a sentience Bill back in 2019, said: “Animals enrich and improve our lives in so many ways, so it is only right that we give them our full respect in law. From the smallest mouse to the largest whale, our decisions can have a huge impact on the welfare of animals, and I’m thrilled that this new law will now mean all government departments will have to show how they’re giving animals the consideration and protection they deserve.”

Joanna Lumley, who signed a letter with 21 other celebrities urging government to put animal sentience into law, said “Anyone lucky enough to share their life with an animal knows what rich emotional lives they can lead, and how much our actions can affect their wellbeing, for better or worse. I am delighted that this new law will mean that sentient animals, including beautiful sea creatures like lobsters and octopus, will be treated with greater respect and care.”

The new law will see the formation of an Animal Sentience Committee which will have the freedom to scrutinise the extent to which any government policy has taken animals’ welfare needs into account, and is empowered to publish reports on its findings. The Minister with responsibility for that policy area then has a duty to lay before Parliament a written response to the Committee’s reports within three months.

Claire Bass, executive director of Humane Society International/UK said: “It’s exactly 200 years since the UK’s first animal welfare law, so the Sentience Act is a fantastic anniversary gift to animals. This legislation has enormous public support, and we’re delighted and relieved to see it complete its journey through Parliament. We look forward to the new Animal Sentience Committee being able to shine an expert spotlight on opportunities for the government to improve the welfare of all animals.”

Chris Sherwood, Chief Executive of the RSPCA said: “The Sentience Bill becoming law is an important milestone in ensuring animals have strong legal protections and are recognised as sentient beings who have emotions and feelings. We are pleased that the new Animal Sentience Committee will be able to influence public policy to improve the lives of animals and create a kinder and more compassionate society.”

Welcoming the law, campaigners stressed that the new Animal Sentience Committee would have a huge scope of policies it could scrutinise, and will need to prioritise its limited resources carefully.

James West, Senior Policy Manager at  Compassion in World Farming, said: “We welcome the final passage of the Bill that will once again enshrine animal sentience in UK law. However, the Animal Sentience Committee still has a big job to do! It’s critical that they prioritise those policies that have the potential to cause the greatest suffering to the largest number of animals, including of course, the millions of animals facing welfare problems on Britain’s farms.”

Sonul Badiani-Hamment, FOUR PAWS UK Country Director, said: “Today is a victory for animals as they are finally granted the recognition and protection they deserve in UK law. The British public are proud to call themselves a nation of animal lovers and have strong expectations of the UK Government to deliver on their commitments in the Action Plan for Animal Welfare. In passing this Bill the government has taken one huge step forwards towards truly being considered a global leader for animal welfare.”

Richard Benwell,  Wildlife and Countryside Link CEO, said: “It’s great to see MPs come together from all parties to recognise the sentience of animals. This consensus reflects clear public opinion—animals are sentient and should be treated as such. This applies to companion animals, farm animals and wild animals. The same consensus must hold to ensure that the advice of the new Animal Sentience Committee is followed by Government, so that future policy reduces suffering and enhances the welfare of animals.”

ENDS

Media contact

Claire Bass, executive director, Humane Society International/UK: cbass@hsi.org

New poll shows 87% of British public want the Government to maintain or increase its level of action on animal protection, but bills to enshrine sentience and ban live exports are almost out of time, and sources suggest promised Animals Abroad Bill may be scrapped altogether

Humane Society International / United Kingdom


amadeusamse/Stock Photography

LONDON—Thirty-two of the UK’s leading animal protection organisations have written urgently to Prime Minister Boris Johnson to express alarm and opposition to reports that the Government has in mind to de-prioritise animal welfare and put at risk legislation to ban live exports, imports of hunting trophies, fur and foie gras, amongst other critical measures and manifesto commitments. The letter shares the results of a new YouGov poll, which affirms the strong public support for animal welfare, with almost two-thirds (63%) of respondents wanting the Government to increase its level of action on animal protection. 

The letter is signed by CEOs from the UK’s leading animal protection organisations, including the RSPCA, Humane Society International/UK, Compassion in World Farming, and FOUR PAWS UK. It was sent the day after the Animal Welfare (Sentience) Bill had its final Commons stages in Parliament, but was further delayed from becoming law by an amendment from 27 Conservative backbenchers, which was supported by the Government. The bill will now have to return to the House of Lords, with little time left this session. Animal sentience was the only piece of EU legislation that was not transposed when the UK formally left the EU on 1st January 2021. 

In an opinion piece in The Daily Telegraph on 9th March, politics editor Christopher Hope reported on a conversation with a minister who told him there is likely to be “a bit more focus on what matters to our constituents and a bit less of the peripheral stuff. The party does care about [the environmental agenda] but it is a question of getting priorities right.”  

Claire Bass, executive director of Humane Society International/UK, said: “The notion that animal welfare doesn’t matter to voters simply does not chime with public opinion. Even with all the other important government priorities at this time, including supporting Ukraine, almost 90% of Brits think the government should maintain or increase action for animals. Support is equally as strong (89%) amongst Conservative voters at the last election. The public want to see real progress for animals, including bans on imports of cruel fur and foie gras, so Number 10 will appear tone deaf if it waters down ambitions for animal welfare, or tries to quietly dispose of the promised Animals Abroad Bill. Reneging on manifesto commitments and promises from its 2021 Action Plan on Animal Welfare would be a betrayal of both animals and the British public.” 

James West, senior policy manager at Compassion in World Farming, said:We are disappointed not to see animal sentience once again enshrined in UK law by now, and trust that the Government will ensure the Sentience Bill quickly passes through Parliament. We are deeply concerned that numerous other legislative and policy pieces which the Government promised have not been delivered – are the high hopes generated by the Government’s Action Plan for Animal Welfare going to be shattered? We urge the Government to ensure that they give animal welfare the same importance that the majority of the British public does. In particular, we call for swift progress on legislation banning live exports and the sale or import of foie gras, as well as significant steps to End the Cage Age in farming.” 

Introduced into the Commons in June 2021, the Kept Animals Bill hasn’t been seen in Parliament since 9th November. Campaigners stress that if the government is going to deliver a number of manifesto commitments such as a ban on live animal exports, they must ensure it is given time to become law as soon as possible. 

Emma Slawinski, director of advocacy and policy at the RSPCA, said: “The Government promised the public that they would ban live exports, stop the illegal puppy trade and deliver animal sentience when they put these into their 2019 manifesto. This new polling shows the public desire to get these delivered has not diminished and as we approach the first anniversary of the Government’s animal welfare action plan we need to see a new resolve from the Government and urge them to deliver on their promises. 

Sonul Badiani-Hamment, UK country director at FOUR PAWS UK, said:After years of Brexit stagnation, last year the Government brought forward an ambitious policy agenda with the Animal Welfare Action Plan. With promises of progressive legislation such as the fur, foie gras and trophy hunting import bans, the UK would finally be a global leader in animal welfare whilst delivering on the wishes of the overwhelming majority of the British public. To see them now backing away from their commitments in the face of political opposition by a small minority, is nothing short of cowardice. 

A change.org petition set up by Chris Packham urging the government ‘#DontBetrayAnimals suffering for fur and foie gras’ now stands at over 125,000 signatures since it was launched three weeks ago. The petition was set up after it was reported by the BBC that some cabinet ministers were opposed to the bans because they restrict personal choice, in spite of strong public support. A YouGov poll on 22/23rd February reveals 73% of the public back a fur import ban, including 59% of Conservative voters at the last election, who strongly support a ban, up almost 20% since a 2018 poll. 

ENDS 

Media contact: Mathilde Dorbessan, HSI/UK media and communications manager: +44 (0)7341 919874

Humane Society International / United Kingdom


Support a ban on the import and sale of fur from animals trapped in the wild

Humane Society International / United Kingdom


BornFreeUSA/HSI/HSUS

LONDON—Amidst concerns that the UK government could be considering abandoning a ban on cruel fur imports, a shocking new undercover investigation exposing the cruelty of animal trapping in the United States, including for the fur trade, has been released by animal welfare and conservation non-profit, Born Free USA, in collaboration with Humane Society International. 

An undercover investigator accompanied three trappers out in the field in the U.S. state of Iowa in November/December 2021, to witness how animals are trapped and killed for fur and recreation. Prior to that he had attended the National Trappers Association Convention in July and a state-sponsored “Trappers Education Course” in November. The investigation’s findings are harrowing and reveal the inherent cruelty of trapping. 

Video and audio evidence captured includes:  

  • Trapped raccoons being bludgeoned with a baseball bat causing protracted death. 
  • A trapper standing on the neck of a raccoon after the animal has been beaten with a bat. 
  • Animals being thrown in the back of a pickup truck after being bludgeoned but without confirmation of death. One raccoon was later found to still be alive and was hit multiple times again with the bat.   
  • A dead fox in a leghold trap who had struggled so hard to free himself that his leg had snapped clean through. The fox had likely been killed by coyotes as he was unable to defend himself or run away. 
  • The bloody toe of a coyote torn off and left in the jaws of a trap during the animal’s escape. The trapper added the toe to his grisly souvenir collection of other previously retrieved toes, displayed on his truck dashboard. 
  • Photographic evidence of a dead cat among the bodies of wild animal trapping victims, demonstrating that traps are also dangerous and deadly to non-targeted animals, including companion animals. 
  • A representative from the Department of Natural Resources volunteering information on loopholes in trapping law, and trainers on a state sponsored education course laughing as they talk about illegal practices. 

Claire Bass, executive director of Humane Society International/UK, said: “This investigation provides a graphic account of the casual disregard for animal suffering that underpins the whole fur trade. As if it’s not enough to be caught for hours or even days in torturous traps that should belong only in horror films, the animals we filmed also endured protracted and violent deaths, being repeatedly bludgeoned and left to suffer, all to be skinned and sold for fur fashion. For as long as the UK continues to import and sell fur from animals caught in the wild or bred on factory fur farms, we remain complicit in this cruelty. I urge Boris Johnson to watch our video evidence to see for himself the abhorrent cruelty of the fur trade, and heed the enormous public support to ban fur. Britain must not be party to this nasty trade anymore.”  

Will Travers OBE, co-founder and executive president of Born Free, said: “Trapped: Exposing the Violence of Trapping in the U.S. has two objectives: to document the reality of trapping, where sentient beings are brutally exploited, and lives are ended with such casual disregard and lack of compassion; and to accelerate measures to bring an end to this cruel practice and its associated activities – including selling the skins of trapped animals for profit. 

As a species, we have done many things of which we can be justifiably proud. But not when it comes to trapping and the fur trade. This archaic throwback to the past is well beyond its sell-by date and is a stain on our humanity. It’s time we evolved. We implore lawmakers in the U.K., the U.S., and beyond, to take swift action to call time on trapping.” 

This and previous investigations clearly demonstrate that trapping frequently involves extreme animal suffering. The cruelties exposed are in stark contrast to the PR claims of fur industry certification schemes such as Furmark, which promise that North American Wild Fur programs “prioritize the sustainability and welfare of all fur-bearing species”. Our evidence also completely undermines the fur trade’s claims that wild fur trapping is “subject to a comprehensive system of laws, regulations, checks and controls.” 

Trapping animals for fur with leg hold traps has been banned in the UK for more than sixty years (as well as being banned or heavily restricted in 108 countries worldwide), and fur farming has been banned across the UK since 2003. Despite this, in a clear double standard, the UK has imported more than £850million of fur from countries including Finland, Italy, Poland, China and the United States. In the past decade (2011 to 2020) the UK has imported more than £20 million of fur (both farmed and trapped) from the U.S. according to the HMRC. 

Banning fur imports commands enormous public support – latest YouGov polls show that 73% of Brits support a fur sales ban, with 74% of Conservative voters wanting to see the ban in place, up from 64% in 2018. Furthermore, 63% of Brits think the government should increase its level of action of animal protection. A ban had been set to be included in the upcoming Animals Abroad Bill, but following opposition from cabinet member Jacob Rees-Mogg and others, the government is believed to be considering abandoning it, along with a ban on imports of foie gras.  

The UK government set out a clear ambition to be a ‘world leader in animal welfare’ with action on fur imports pledged in its Action Plan for Animal Welfare last year, and repeated ministerial statements confirming that post-Brexit the UK would be free to explore opportunities for a ban.   

In the United States, BFUSA and HSI are calling on U.S. lawmakers to pass and implement the Refuge from Cruel Trapping Act which would ban trapping using body-gripping, leg-hold, snare and similar traps.  

An increasing number of fashion designers and retailers are dropping fur cruelty. In the last few years alone Canada Goose, Oscar de la Renta, Valentino, Gucci, Burberry, Versace, Chanel, Prada and other high-profile brands have announced fur-free policies. In addition, major online fashion retail platforms Net-A-Porter, Farfetch and MyTheresa have adopted fur-free policies. In the United Kingdom, Harrods, Harvey Nichols, House of Fraser and Flannels are among the few remaining retailers to still sell fur, including wild trapped fur from North America, and House of Bruar and Etsy sell fur from raccoons trapped in the wild in the United States for products including hats and keychains. Canada Goose, which for years has trapped coyote fur at the centre of its brand, has now ended the purchase of new fur and will end manufacturing products with fur by the end of 2022. Other brands still using North American wild trapped fur (mainly coyote) are Parajumpers, Woolrich and Yves Salomon.** 

Watch the investigation footage here  

Read the report at bornfreeusa.org/trappingexposed. 

ENDS 

Media Contacts: 

Humane Society International: Wendy Higgins, +44 (0)7989 972 423, whiggins@hsi.org  

Born Free USA: Heather Ripley, Orange Orchard (865) 977-1973, hripley@orangeorchardpr.com   

Notes 

* All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 1,687 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken on 22-23 February 2022. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+). 

** While there is no suggestion that these brands obtain furs from this trapper or this State, the investigation demonstrates the kind of suffering animals caught for fur might typically endure. 

Humane Society International / United Kingdom


Some senior UK government ministers are keen to drop the proposed fur and foie gras import and sales bans. We cannot let this happen.

Animal protection and conservation NGOs, policy makers, IWC commissioners gather for launch event with messages of support also from Dame Judi Dench, Leona Lewis, Chris Packham and Tracy Edwards MBE

Humane Society International / United Kingdom


Minke whales
Adrian Baddele/istock

LONDON–Dr Jane Goodall DBE, UN Messenger of Peace, joined with many of the world’s leading animal protection and conservation organisations, to urge the 88 member countries of the International Whaling Commission to adopt a new 50-Year Vision to save whales, dolphins and porpoises from extinction in the face of increasing ocean threats. are Many species are facing an increased threat of extinction because of fisheries bycatch; chemical, plastic and noise pollution; marine debris; ship strikes; habitat loss; the urgent climate crisis as well as continued direct persecution from commercial killing and dolphin drive hunts.

The coalition of NGOs, including the Animal Welfare Institute, Humane Society International, Born Free Foundation, OceanCare, IFAW and Environmental Investigation Agency, launched the 50-Year Vision at a virtual event, to mark the 75th anniversary of the International Whaling Commission (IWC). Originally established in 1946 to conserve whales in order to maximise hunting quotas, the IWC has since evolved to address myriad anthropogenic threats that pose an immediate danger for many populations of cetaceans. Of the 90 species, 12 subspecies and 28 subpopulations of cetaceans that have been identified and assessed to date, 22 are listed as ‘Critically Endangered’, 22 as ‘Endangered’ and 16 as ‘Vulnerable’. Without globally co-ordinated conservation actions, many species and populations will go extinct within our lifetimes, the NGOs warn.

Giving the keynote speech, Dr Jane Goodall DBE said: “Some 80% of the world’s oxygen comes from the ocean. Our seas, along with our forests, are literally the lungs of our planet. Tragically, the vast marine habitat is increasingly threatened by our human actions. We are polluting it with toxic substances, large areas become acidified, the water is warming, commercial fishing has endangered many species, and its biggest and so loved residents – whales, dolphins and porpoises – are suffering. 

Unbelievably, despite a 40 year ban, many still suffer the cruelty of commercial whaling. Then around 300,000 cetaceans die when they’re accidentally captured in fishing gear. They drown.  A number of species and some populations are now facing extinction. There are solutions, but our governments must prioritise them and also recognise and support the International Whaling Commission as the organisation to coordinate these global priorities.” 

The 50-Year Vision (supported by more than 50 NGOs worldwide) calls on the IWC and its 88 member countries to ensure that conservation urgency is at the centre of global efforts to save cetacean species from decline. It warns that the degradation of the oceans has accelerated rapidly in recent years, with ocean temperatures warming up to 40% faster on average than the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change previously estimated, and more than 150 million tonnes of plastics have accumulated in the oceans since the 1950s. Ocean acidification has also increased by 26% since pre-industrial times, global maritime traffic has vastly increased, as have ambient noise levels from shipping, seismic surveys, exploration and military activities. An estimated 300,000 cetaceans are killed annually as bycatch in fisheries. These challenges are compounded by the loss of critical habitat to climate change.

A host of celebrities supported the 50-Year Vision at its launch event, with video messages from naturalist and campaigner Chris Packham, actress Dame Judi Dench, Singer Leona Lewis and world-renowned sailor Tracy Edwards MBE. Download the celebrity videos here.

The NGOs believe the IWC’s 75th anniversary provides the perfect opportunity ahead of its 68th meeting in October 2022 to define a clear 50-year Vision that goes beyond managing whaling and establishes the IWC at the centre of global efforts to conserve all cetaceans.

The 50-Year Vision outlines that, looking forward, the IWC’s priorities must be focused on conservation, and recommends specifically that the IWC:

Maintain the ban on commercial whaling which is not a viable industry in the 21st century. Demand for whale meat has fallen to unprecedented levels in the remaining nations conducting commercial whaling, and the industry is now dependent on significant government subsidies. The very nature of cetaceans – long lived, slow breeding, depleted and vulnerable to growing environmental threats – means that commercial whaling is inherently ill-suited to meeting the Sustainable Development Goals such as providing food security, and ensuring sustainable consumption and production patterns.

Manage Aboriginal Subsistence Whaling. The IWC’s most important whaling management responsibility is the regulation of Aboriginal Subsistence Whaling (ASW). It is vital that the IWC maintain a clear distinction between ASW and commercial and special permit whaling, to ensure the integrity of the moratorium and meet the genuine nutritional, cultural and subsistence needs of indigenous peoples

Ensure whale watching is effectively managed. Whale watching is an industry worth more than US$2 billion, enjoyed by over 13 million people in 119 countries each year. However, as the success of whale watching continues to grow, the IWC must ensure it is conducted responsibly and is biologically sustainable.

Implement IWC Sanctuaries as Effective Marine Protected Areas. The IWC took the visionary step of designating two massive protected areas at a time (1979 and 1994) when marine reserves were a relatively new concept. Today, there are more than 900 marine protected areas providing habitat for cetaceans globally but not all have conservation goals or management plans to mitigate threats to cetaceans.

Consolidate the IWC’s welfare mandate. The IWC is uniquely positioned to ensure that the pain and suffering of cetaceans in both hunting and non-hunting situations is understood and minimised. It is already building a global response to entanglement but must expand its work and its collaboration with other organisations to better understand, measure and address other non-hunting welfare threats to cetaceans.

Increase collaboration, skills-sharing and capacity building in member governments, on ocean conservation, global biodiversity, sustainable development goals, harmonised research and mitigation efforts, to reverse the trifecta of the climate, pollution and biodiversity crises.

Ensure that decision-making reflects that the ecological contributions of cetaceans are a public good. Cetaceans make vital ecological contributions to the health and productivity of the oceans, including enhancing fish populations by increasing primary productivity, sequestering carbon, and promoting biodiversity. The IWC’s growing expertise in this area will enable it to leverage funding for cetacean conservation from new sources, including international institutions that fund climate mitigation and other conservation efforts.

Kitty Block, CEO of Humane Society International says: “As the health of the world’s oceans dramatically declines, cetaceans are in trouble, and that’s a tragedy not just because they are magnificent and sentient animals but because they also play a vital ecological role. Our 50-Year Vision offers a vital strategic plan for the IWC to help save whales, dolphins and porpoises in these most perilous of times.” 

ENDS 

Download photos of cetaceans here.

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

Background on the IWC 

Almost three million great whales were killed in commercial whaling operations in the 20th century. As whale populations declined but competition for the remaining whales increased, the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling (ICRW), which established the International Whaling Commission (IWC), was agreed in 1946 to conserve whale populations and regulate the whaling industry. Since then, the IWC has been the primary international organisation for the management and conservation of whales and is recognised in international law as such.

In 1982, the IWC made the visionary decision to ban commercial whaling worldwide, preventing the extinction of several populations and species. Almost 40 years later, despite recovery in some whale populations, many are nowhere near their pre-exploitation levels. Maintaining the ban on commercial whaling remains critical to ensuring that whales have the best chance of survival and recovery in what is now an increasingly degraded and rapidly changing marine environment.

Yves Salomon, Moncler & Max Mara sales staff filmed at Harrods’ fur salon provide misleading information about conditions on factory fur farms

Humane Society International / United Kingdom


Kristo Muurimaa/Oikeutta eläimille

LONDON—Sales staff representing global designers Yves Salomon, Moncler and Max Mara in the fur salon at London’s Harrods department store, provided misleading information about conditions for animals on fur farms to a secret shopper filming for animal protection charity Humane Society International/UK. Sales staff for the fashion companies—all wearing Harrods-branded name badges—made misleading claims about the deprived environment in which caged animals are kept, and the way they are killed, when questioned about farmed fox fur from Finland.

The sales rep for Yves Salomon falsely claimed that foxes on fur farms are not kept in cages, telling the undercover customer that they are kept in “their own private space” in “separate rooms” “exactly” like Battersea (Dogs and Cats Home). The customer was repeatedly told that foxes are not kept in a cage and even that “they have enough space to play and everything”. In truth, the animals are confined in small, barren, wire factory-farm style cages one-metre squared. These pitiful conditions were exposed this week in HSI’s undercover investigation at three Finnish fox fur farms that showed animals in cages barely longer than their body length, nose to tail. Many of the foxes also suffered with deformed feet and diseased eyes.

Another Yves Salomon sales rep at Harrods gave HSI/UK’s undercover shopper the false assurance that before the animals are killed “they put them down with an injection” so that “they are literally put to sleep” when in truth foxes (and raccoon dogs) are anally electrocuted without any anaesthetic. When our shopper expressed concern about some videos she had seen of animals suffering in the fur trade she was told ‘it’s only propaganda, madam’.

Moncler’s sales assistant made the astonishing implication that its Finnish fox fur was just a by-product, saying “we take our fur from animals who were already taken for other purposes, like for example meat or something else”, despite the breeding of foxes for human consumption being illegal in the EU.

Humane Society International/UK which leads the #FurFreeBritain campaign for a UK fur sales ban, and Finnish animal campaigners Oikeutta Eläimille, visited three fur farms in the Ostrobothnia region of Finland, a country that has exported more than £11million of fur to the UK since 2000 despite the same fur farm cruelty being banned in the UK. Photos and video can be downloaded here. Filming took place in October 2021.

Claire Bass, executive director of Humane Society International/UK, who visited the fur farms, said: “It’s hardly a surprise that staff in Harrods don’t want to describe the grim reality of life for animals on fur farms, because it would surely leave their customers horrified. The week before speaking to five Harrods’ sales assistants who all creatively cloaked the cruelty of the fur trade, I visited several supposedly ‘high welfare’ Finnish fur farms and come face to face with the abject misery and suffering of thousands of foxes locked up in barren metre-squared battery cages their whole lives. Before Christmas they will all have been killed by anal electrocution, and the luxury lies of fur trade PR spin will market their lifeless fur to consumers.

The claim that fur farms are ‘like Battersea’, a rescue home for pets, was a whole new level of delusion. Fur farms and Battersea are like night and day in animal welfare terms. A Harrods manager’s claims that their fur is ‘ethically and sustainably sourced’ bears no scrutiny whatsoever. There is nothing ethical about any fur farming, certified or otherwise. We urge Harrods to stop peddling lies and stop selling fur cruelty. And the sooner the UK government bans the import and sale of animal fur, the sooner we can stop bankrolling this brutal industry.”

Max Mara’s sales staff told the investigator that its fur is certified by the fur trade’s SAGA Furs** assurance scheme which, they claimed, means “those ones are not cruel, not made in a cruel way…. It means that the animals don’t suffer.” However, at two SAGA Furs certified fox fur farms visited by HSI/UK, foxes with infected eyes and missing ears were filmed in woefully cramped cages, each one empty but for a single piece of wood or bone which passes for “enrichment”.

Fox fur originating from Finland is used by brands including Fendi, Moncler, Yves Salomon, Woolrich, Herno and Max Mara, and is seen in stores including Harrods, Harvey Nichols and Flannels.

Finland is the biggest producer of fox fur in Europe and the second biggest in the world, exporting millions of pounds worth of fur around the world including to the UK. Since banning fur farming in 2000 on ethical grounds, the UK has imported more than £850million of fur from a range of countries including France, Italy, Poland, China and the United States. Through its #FurFreeBritain campaign, HSI/UK is urging the government to end this by banning UK fur imports and sales, a move supported by 72% of the British public. The government is currently considering a fur sales ban and recently held a public consultation which received 30,000 responses.

HSI/UK has written to Harrods.

Please sign and share HSI’s petition calling for a UK fur sales ban: www.hsi.org/FurFreeBritain

Facts: 

  • More than 100 million animals are killed for their fur every year worldwide: foxes, raccoon dogs, mink, chinchilla and rabbits on fur farms and coyotes, beavers and other animals trapped in the wild—that’s equivalent to three animals dying every second, just for their fur. Finland rears and kills between 1-2 million foxes every year.
  • Fur farming has been banned and/or is in the process of being phased out in 15 European countries including Austria, Belgium, the Netherlands, Norway, Slovakia, and the United Kingdom. The Republic of Ireland’s cabinet has approved legislation that would see fur farming banned from 2022; and legislation to ban mink farming is currently being debated by politicians in France. Bulgaria, Latvia, Lithuania, Spain and Ukraine are also considering proposals to ban fur farming.
  • HSI/UK’s #FurFreeBritain campaign for a UK fur sales ban is supported by NGOs including the RSPCA, PETA UK and Four Paws UK, as well as celebrities including Sir Paul McCartney, Stella McCartney, Dame Judi Dench, Ricky Gervais and Leona Lewis.
  • In 2021 Israel became the first country in the world to ban the sale of fur. Fur sales are also banned in the U.S. state of California, the cities of Los Angeles, San Francisco, Berkeley and West Hollywood, and the towns of Weston and Wellesley in Massachusetts and Ann Arbor in Michigan.
  • Global fashion designers and retailers who have dropped fur cruelty include Canada Goose, Oscar de la Renta, Valentino, Gucci, Burberry, Versace, Chanel and Prada.
  • A 2020 YouGov opinion poll reveals that 79% of Brits most closely associate fashion brands selling fur with negative words: ‘unethical’, ‘outdated’, ‘cruel’ and ‘out of touch’.
  • Fur comes with a hefty environmental price tag. All fabrics have an eco-footprint, but when compared to others, fur scores badly 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 cocktail of toxic chemicals such as chromium and formaldehyde used to stop the fur and skin from rotting.

Media contact: Wendy Higgins: whiggins@hsi.org

Notes

*Faces have been pixilated and voices altered to protect the sales staffs’ identity.
**SAGA is the fur trade’s certification scheme which claims SAGA certified farms have good animal health and welfare and provide safe and stimulating housing, as well as good farm hygiene and feed that fulfils nutritional needs in each production phase.
Reference in this article to any specific commercial product or service, or the use of any brand, trade, firm or corporation name is for the information of the public only.  Such reference does not constitute or imply endorsement by Humane Society International or any its affiliates of the product or service, or its producer or provider, and should not be construed or relied upon, under any circumstances, by implication or otherwise, as investment advice. The views and opinions of interviewees expressed in the article do not necessarily state or accurately reflect those of Humane Society International or any of its affiliates. Links and access by hypertext to other websites is provided as a convenience only and does not indicate or imply any endorsement with respect to any of the content on such website nor any of the views expressed thereon.

Learn More Button Inserter