LONDON—Heart-wrenching scenes of baby foxes, raccoon dogs and minks suffering on Chinese fur farms have been released by Humane Society International/UK as the animal protection charity renews calls for a ban on UK fur imports and sales. Millions of pounds worth of fur from China is imported into Britain every year, despite the UK having banned fur farming two decades ago on ethical grounds.
HSI’s investigation at nine fur farms in northern China — one of the world’s largest fur producing countries — focuses on a side of the fur trade rarely exposed in investigations, the suffering of babies and their mothers forced to live in cramped, filthy, unnatural conditions. Many of the older animals were found to be exhibiting behaviours signifying psychological distress, such as repetitively pacing their tiny cages. The film also showed a raccoon dog cub struggling to walk on wire mesh floor in a cage, adult foxes peering out from cages barely longer than their body length, and mink circling around in dirty cages, above piles of excrement.
Fur farming has been illegal in the UK since the Fur Farming (Prohibition) Acts came into force in 2003. Despite this, His Majesty’s Revenue and Customs records show that £28,492,281 of fur has been imported to the UK from China in the last five years. HSI/UK is urging the Government to end this double standard by banning imports and sales of fur in the UK.
Claire Bass, senior director of campaigns and public affairs at Humane Society International/UK, said: “HSI’s latest investigation has once again highlighted the inhumane treatment animals suffer as fur fashion victims. The fur trade would prefer that the grim realities of fur farming were out of sight and out of mind, but as a country we owe it to these animals not to turn away, and to stop being complicit in their suffering. Many Britons will be horrified to find out that it is perfectly legal for fur from farms like those we investigated to be sold in Britain. A fur sales ban has the backing of over three quarters of the public, and should be an open goal for this Government to deliver on its ambition to be a world leader in animal welfare.”
National polling carried out in April 2022 revealed that 77% of British citizens think the Government should ban the importation of animal products such as fur, where the production methods are already banned in the UK. The #FurFreeBritain campaign has so far gathered over 1.1 million petition signatures calling on the UK to ban fur imports and sales.
In its Action Plan for Animal Welfare in 2021, the Government stated: “Fur farming has been banned on ethical grounds in England and Wales since 2000, and since 2002 in Scotland and Northern Ireland. Whilst there are existing import restrictions on seal, cat and dog fur, it is still possible to import other fur from abroad, so we will explore potential action in this area.”
In May 2021 the UK Government launched a Call for Evidence on the UK fur trade, with the stated intention of using the findings to inform possible future action. Around 30,000 responses were submitted before the consultation closed in June 2021, but 18 months on, officials are yet to release the results, or set out a policy response.
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