Policymakers, experts, organizations and industry gather at European Parliament to discuss ending pig mutilation and extreme confinement

Humane Society International / Europe


HSI

BRUSSELS—European Union policymakers, animal welfare experts, industry representatives and non-governmental organizations gathered today at the European Parliament for a roundtable discussion on the necessity of raising welfare standards for the production of pigs. Animal scientists conveyed the need to end the intensive crate confinement of pigs, and transition to higher welfare systems that meet the inherent welfare needs of these intelligent and social animals.

This debate is extremely timely given the impending delivery of a package of legislative proposals by the European Commission for the revision and expansion of the scope of the existing EU animal welfare legislation. In its response to the European Citizen’s Initiative to End the Cage Age in 2021, the Commission pledged to propose an end to caged confinement for farm animals. Today’s event highlighted the need for them to abide by this important commitment to advancing animal welfare.

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

“At present, more than 140 million pigs are being kept in the EU, the vast majority of which are regrettably still being housed in production systems that fail to adequately meet their complex welfare needs. The science is crystal clear. It is time to end the close confinement of these highly intelligent animals in stalls and crates and begin to respect the integrity of the species and the animals’ behavioral needs. The living environments for pigs need to be enriched, they should be kept in family groups and the practice of mutilating their bodies should be prohibited. The revision of the EU animal welfare legislation is a golden opportunity for politicians, policymakers and the pig industry to get things right and align more accurately with science and the will of European citizens. We strongly urge them to pay heed to the animal welfare scientists and support the Commission’s proposals that aim to ensure that the pigs we keep for food are afforded a dignified existence.”

Maria Noichl MEP for the Socialist and Democratic Group and full member of the European Parliament’s Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development, added:

“It is our responsibility as MEPs to make sure that we fully listen to both citizens and scientists and deliver new animal welfare standards that will give farm animals lives worth living. Of course, we must listen to the legitimate concerns of the animal agriculture industry about the practicalities and costs of transitioning to higher welfare systems. However, these concerns should not be used as an excuse to block progress on achieving progress on animal welfare. Let us instead look at the ways we can help farmers to upgrade or replace their existing housing systems. The new Common Agricultural Policy co-schemes, for example, were established exactly with this kind of goal in mind. We need to stimulate Member States and producers to make full use of existing funding CAP streams and also better incentivize farmers to improve animal welfare, rather than placing obstacles in the way of achieving better welfare for pigs and other farmed animals.”

HSI/Europe’s vision for the future of pig production was presented at this event by animal welfare scientist Dr Heleen van de Weerd, who provided an overview of minimum standards for pig production in the EU:

  • An end to close confinement for pigs in stalls or crates.
  • The selection of pigs for robustness, includes traits, such as lower prolificacy, good mothering skills, low aggression, and resilience in local conditions.
  • The necessity for pig housing to offer variation, with spacious, functional areas for secluded resting and activities, such as foraging and rooting, eating and drinking. Pigs must also have access to a bedded area, with materials, such as straw, for comfort and enrichment.
  • Respect for the species’ integrity. This entails keeping pigs in family group systems where sows and their piglets live together. Piglets should also not be mixed and moved as little as possible. Social groups should remain together.
  • Litter size must be aligned with sow nursing capacity and the weaning age must more closely approach the natural weaning age.
  • An end to unnecessary surgical mutilations. All pigs must have intact bodies (no castration, tail docking, teeth clipping, or ear notching)
  • Pig handling must be respectful and pay full regard to species-typical behavior without causing stress to the animals. There must be a culture of care on pig farms with each farm appointing a trained and named animal welfare officer legally responsible for overseeing and ensuring the welfare of the animals on the premises.

Facts:

  • In 2020, in its EU Farm to Fork Strategy, the European Commission committed to revising and expanding the scope of the existing body of EU animal welfare legislation to bring it in line with current scientific understandings of animal welfare. The proposals were scheduled to be delivered in the third quarter of 2023.
  • Following the successful European Citizens’ Initiative to End the Cage Age, which gathered 1,3 million signatures, in 2021 the European Commission pledged to also deliver a proposal to end caged confinement for animals farmed for food production.
  • There is no accessible data with regard to how many pigs are still commercially kept in close confinement systems. It is, however, known that only about 1% of EU pig herds are estimated to be organically raised and thus kept under higher welfare standards with outdoor access, although the data on organic production show that some Member States have a higher share of organic pigs (e.g., Austria, Sweden, Denmark, all with 3% of pigs raised in organic systems).
  • Most pigs in Europe live in indoor confinement on industrialized farms where they are unable to display their full range of complex social, foraging, and exploratory behavior. This leads to animal welfare problems, such as tail-biting and aggression. Piglets are routinely castrated and tail-docked without pain-relieving anesthetic. Poor air quality and intensive confinement can also result in other health problems.

ENDS

Media contact: Cassie Bodin-Duval, international coordinator in media relations:  cbodinduval@hsi.org ; +32 (0) 469 149 469

Humane Society International responds to Kodami investigation as further evidence of trophy hunters’ political greenwashing and the division amongst hunters.

Humane Society International / Europe


Lion rug
coldsnowstorm/istock

ROME—Yesterday, the Italian media outlet Kodami released a video of their independent undercover investigation undertaken at “Jagd & Hund”, Europe’s largest hunting fair held in Dortmund, Germany from January 24-29, delivering another shocking look behind the scenes of an industry currently under intense political scrutiny in Europe as multiple Member States consider hunting trophy trade bans.

Humane Society International and affiliates have been at the forefront of a global fight to ban the trade in hunting trophies of imperiled species. For years, the Humane Society of the United States has unveiled what happens at the world’s largest annual hunting fair hosted by Safari Club International in the United States, working to unmask the hypocrisy of the trophy hunting lobby and its attempts to greenwash the exploitative industry while lobbying against endangered species protections.

Kodami’s investigation findings add to a growing collection of evidence of trophy hunters’ political equivocation and blatant disregard for conservation principles. Many hunters are condemning trophy hunting as unacceptable in modern society. Multiple investigations by HSI and the HSUS over the years revealed:

  • The presentation of trophy hunting as a well-managed, conservation-focused industry is a farce. When gathered together at these conventions, outfitters and trophy hunters have undermined or outright dismissed ethical and animal welfare considerations. At the Staffordshire County hunting fair in 2022 an HSI investigator asked if he could drink alcohol while on a hunt in Africa. The outfitters’ response was: “Yeah, they [expletive] don’t give a [expletive] over there. [Expletive] me if you want to go around with a beer and a cigar and [expletive] blast stuff. They’re pretty laid back.” This crude, irresponsible sentiment was seen across multiple investigations, outfitters and guests.
  • Trophy hunting outfitters at the fairs use gimmicks and deep discounts on animals’ lives to increase sales. Many offer canned hunts—where the animal is bred and shot in captivity—or “easy” hunts where they can guarantee a kill for a client.

Outfitters push marketing schemes meant to maximize hunt sales regardless of the hunters’ proficiency by promising a family-like experience with the guides and glorifying the adrenaline of trophy hunting, preparing inexperienced clients in as little as a day. They also claim to “bend the rules” around hunts and ethics, offering clients the option of hunting from the back of trucks or setting up  captive hunts.

  • Children are often present and featured in promotional material to encourage family engagement. It was apparent to HSUS investigators that killing animals for pleasure and keeping their body parts was being normalized for children at these conventions. One conference attendee attendee told investigators that he and his children participated in a canned hunt, killing “their” lion within 90 minutes.
  • Investigators found that the hunting community is not united in support of trophy hunting. Many hunters believe that captive hunting, baiting and hunting from a vehicle violate fair chase ethics, while others don’t support hunting of iconic or imperiled animals or hunting animals when meat consumption isn’t a primary driver.

Kodami’s investigation video further proves what Humane Society International has been pointing out for years: the trophy hunting industry’s economic model incentivizes over-exploitation which can push imperiled species like lions, leopards and elephants further towards extinction. The sales model found across all conventions indicates that the value of wildlife is determined by consumer demand, not by their intrinsic value, conservation status or value to local communities. Trophy fees can run up to US$65,000 for wild lions and US$35,000 for leopards and are typically around US$40,000 for an elephant, depending on the size of their tusks. The record auction for a hunt of a black rhino—one of the most endangered mammals on the planet—was at the 2014 Safari Club International convention for US$400,000. However, the industry also chooses which animals to devalue either by setting trophy fees low such as for ducks, doves and guinea fowl “worth” only US$5; by offering extreme discounts for the hunting packages (a giraffe hunt was offered for US$1,200 as “a giveaway”); or by offering animal kills for free as bait, such as hippos (whose numbers are declining), to draw out the target trophy animal such as lions and leopards.

Humane Society International/Europe executive director Ruud Tombrock, after seeing the footage released by Kodami yesterday, commented: “Trophy hunters can’t seem to hide their passion for carnage or complete disrespect for animals for long when they all gather together at conventions like the Jagd & Hund in Germany,  Cinegética in Spain, and Safari Club International’s in the U.S. Undercover investigations like Kodami’s and ours are vitally important to dispel the ‘helping hand’ fantasy that the hunting lobby has peddled to policymakers and the public. These false representations of the industry have so far secured for them hunting and trade policy exemptions for imperiled wildlife they shot for fun where it would otherwise be prohibited. We cannot let this pandering continue under their lobby’s false narrative. Policymakers need to see their true nature and put an end to facilitating their abuse of wildlife.”

Background:

  • The EU is the second largest importer of hunting trophies with 14.912 hunting trophies from 73 different CITES-listed mammalian species imported between 2014-2018, such as leopards, hippos, elephants, lions and even species like the critically endangered black rhino. Hunting fairs played a significant role in the promotion and sale of the represented hunts.
  • More and more transport companies pledged to prohibit transporting of hunting trophies. Find here a list of more than 30 airlines, freight carriers and businesses from the transport sector that have a passenger baggage or cargo policy against hunting trophies.
  • HSI/Europe has been advocating for a ban on hunting trophy imports with its campaign #NotInMyWorld aimed at the European Union and Member States since 2021. Our petition to the European Parliament calls for urgent action to ensure that the existing requirements of the EU Wildlife Trade Regulations and Habitats Directive with respect to hunting trophies are being properly implemented, as outlined in commitments in the EU Biodiversity Strategy.
  • We’ve made significant progress to date:
    • On June 21st the French Assembly adopted an amendment that will significantly assist customs authorities in limiting the import of hunting trophies of certain endangered animal species into France by an overwhelming majority (113 votes for, one vote against). This vote coincides with a new legislative proposal for a ban brought forth by Senator Céline Boulay-Espéronnier on May 23.
    • In March 2023, British lawmakers in the House of Commons advanced legislation that would ban the import of animal hunting trophies from over 6,000 internationally regulated species, including elephants, rhinos and leopards. The bill is currently under consideration by the House of Lords.
    • Last year in Italy, IEG Italian Exhibition Group SpA announced it will no longer host the HIT Show (Italy’s largest hunting fair with 40,000 visitors and hundreds of international exhibitors each year) citing explicitly the event’s incompatibility with environmental values and mission of the event.
    • Finland banned the import from outside the EU of hunting trophies of species protected under Annex A and 12 species under Annex B of the EU Wildlife Trade Regulations in 2022.
    • The Belgian federal parliament unanimously called on the government in 2022 to immediately stop issuing import permits for trophies of species protected by specific international trade regulations.
    • The European Parliament adopted a resolution in 2022 calling for an end to the import of hunting trophies into the EU of protected species.
    • In 2016, the Netherlands banned imports of trophies of more than 200 species, and in 2015, France banned imports of lion trophies.

ENDS

Media contact: Eva-Maria Heinen, communications and PR manager for Germany&Italy: emheinen@hsi.org

Assembly discussion on prohibiting hunting trophy imports coincides with new legislative proposal by Senator Céline Boulay-Espéronnier supported by 91% of French people

Humane Society International / Europe


Purestock

PARIS—Yesterday, the French Assembly adopted an amendment that will significantly assist customs authorities in limiting the import of hunting trophies of certain endangered animal species into France by an overwhelming majority (113 votes for, one vote against).

This vote coincides with a new legislative proposal for a ban brought forth by Senator Céline Boulay-Espéronnier on May 23, the first time such a ban has been championed by politicians at the legislative level in France. That Senate proposal is supported by an overwhelming 91% of French citizens who would rally behind the initiative to outlaw trophy imports of endangered species, including African elephant, giraffe and polar bear, according to a poll commissioned by HSI/Europe.

The Assembly sub-amendment proposed by Deputy Sandra Regol, Ecologist group – NUPES, states: “The practice of trophy hunting tourism, when it contributes to endangering species, harms biodiversity. However, it is happening in many countries, whether it is South Africa, Mozambique or Canada, and in total, at least 200,000 hunting trophies from 451 endangered species have been imported around the world between 2005 and 2015. It is crucial to fight this phenomenon, aligning with French people’s expectation and the ecological necessity.”

France has already taken steps to protect lions from trophy hunting, in the aftermath of the scandal surrounding the killing of Cecil the lion in 2015. However, this new move signifies renewed hope for all the other species such as the elephants, leopards and cheetahs that fall victim to being legally hunted and imported as trophies into France. Several of these targeted species, including the African elephant, leopard, hippopotamus and cheetah, teeter on the brink of extinction. France stands out as the first destination within the European Union for African leopards, exacerbating the plight of a species under the threat of extinction.

Humane Society International/Europe and Convergence Animaux Politique commend Mrs Sandra Regol for her unwavering commitment to championing the bill through the sub-amendment aimed at tackling the detrimental impact of trophy hunting on endangered and vulnerable species, by expanding the implementation of a customs authority investigation process commonly referred to as a “blow buy.” The Ecologist group – NUPES is fully supportive of the sub-amendment proposed.

Explaining the significance of the Assembly’s adopted sub-measure, Milton Federici, public affairs manager of Convergence Animaux et Politique, says: “The adoption of this amendment marks a significant victory. It gives ground to customs officers to use the ‘purchase’ investigation technique for hunting trophies, signaling their import as a legal offense. While the current import ban solely focuses on lion trophies, the resoundingly positive vote by the Assembly demonstrates politicians’ willingness to be more ambitious. This vote is a step forward towards a ban on trophy hunting imports to safeguard all the other endangered species targeted by trophy hunters.”

Capucine Meyer, HSI/Europe trophy hunting campaign consultant for France, says: “The overwhelming support to the amendment shows that politicians align with the 91% of French citizens who support a prohibition on trophy hunting imports of protected species. It is a clear signal that there is no time to waste in expanding the level of protection granted to endangered species beyond just lions. Many more species targeted by the trophy hunting industry are facing extinction and are in dire need for such a ban to be adopted.”

France’s initiative aligns with efforts by other member states to move towards enhanced protection of wildlife threatened by trophy hunting. Countries such as the Netherlands (2016) and Finland (2022), have already surpassed CITES ((the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) recommendations and implemented binding measures for species protection. With Belgium, Poland, Italy and the United Kingdom in the process of enacting similar legislation, the EU government must take immediate action to reflect the general public’s desire for a ban on hunting trophy imports in line with a precautionary approach to species protection.

The groups appreciate the commitment of French politicians to ban the import of hunting trophies of endangered species, saying it sends a powerful message and emphasizes the need for global action to preserve our planet’s irreplaceable wildlife. HSI commends Senator Boulay-Espéronnier’s efforts, which place France at the forefront of the fight against trophy hunting as the bill progresses through legislative procedures.

Background facts:

  • Trophy hunting poses a grave threat to biodiversity and ecosystem stability. It involves the killing of wild animals for the purpose of exhibiting their heads, skins or other body parts as trophies. This cruel and detrimental activity exacerbates the decline of species, endangering their survival and disrupting ecosystems.

Contrary to claims that trophy hunting benefits local communities, studies reveal that a mere 3% of the revenue generated from this activity reaches them. Consequently, communities are deprived of genuine conservation opportunities and the potential economic benefits of sustainable ecotourism, which can create employment and contribute to conservation efforts.

Minister Svavarsdóttir ends decades of senseless whale killing and begins a new chapter in Iceland’s relationship with whales

Humane Society International / Europe


Japanese whaling
Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert/Alamy

BRUSSELS―As news breaks that Iceland has cancelled this season’s  commercial whaling on animal welfare grounds, global animal protection charity Humane Society International says it is thrilled and relieved at the announcement that will spare hundreds of whales from agonising deaths, and urges the Icelandic government to make it a permanent ban.

Food, Agriculture and Fisheries Minister, Svandís Svavarsdóttir, announced that Iceland’s whaling vessels will not kill any whales this season due to the conclusion that “the fishing method used when hunting large whales does not comply with the law on animal welfare.”The suspension lasts until August 31st which effectively cancels this season’s whale killing. The minister’s statement continues “it is necessary to postpone the start of the whaling season so that there is room to investigate whether it is possible to ensure that the hunting is carried out in accordance with the provisions of the Animal Welfare Act.”

Ruud Tombrock, HSI/Europe’s executive director, said: “This is a major milestone in compassionate whale conservation. Humane Society International is thrilled at this news and praises Minister Svavarsdóttir for ending the senseless whale killing which will spare hundreds of minke and imperilled fin whales from agonising and protracted deaths. There is no humane way to kill a whale at sea, and so we urge the minister to make this a permanent ban. Whales already face so many serious threats in the oceans from pollution, climate change, entanglement in fish nets and ship strikes, that ending cruel commercial whaling is the only ethical conclusion.”

The announcement follows the Minister’s op-ed last year in which she said she saw little reason to permit whaling after 2023, and publication last month of an independent report by the Icelandic Food and Veterinary Authority―commissioned by the Minister―that revealed some whales killed in Icelandic hunts had taken up to two hours to die, with 41% of whales suffering immensely before dying for an average of 11.5 minutes.

Kitty Block, CEO of Humane Society International, said: “For those of us who have been campaigning for many years to end commercial whaling, to see the day that Iceland decides to stop killing whales and retire its harpoons for good, is truly historic. Economic factors have certainly played a significant role in the demise of this cruel industry -with little demand for whale meat at home and exports to the Japanese market dwindling- but it is the overriding moral argument against whaling that has sealed its fate. Harpooning these magnificent giants not only causes unjustifiable suffering to those whales who are killed, but also unimaginable distress to the rest of their pod who witness their family members being chased and slaughtered. Iceland is already one of the best places in the world to go whale watching, and the country stands to attract even more ecotourists now that it has abandoned whaling forever. The world now looks at Japan and Norway as the only two countries in the world to still mercilessly kill whales for profit.”

Fast facts:

  • The International Whaling Commission agreed to enact a global moratorium on all commercial whaling in 1986.
  • Iceland left the IWC in 1992 but returned in 2002 with an exception to the moratorium, despite objections from multiple nations. Since re-joining the IWC, Iceland had killed more than 1,500 whales, including fin whales.
  • Iceland suspended hunting fin whales in 2016 due to a declining market for whale meat in Japan. Hunting resumed for the 2018 season when 146 fin whales were killed, including a pregnant female and a rare fin-blue hybrid whale, plus six minke whales. A single minke whale was killed from 2019-2021, and 148 fin whales in 2022.
  • Fin whales are classified by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature as globally vulnerable to extinction despite decades of recovery since the commercial whaling moratorium.

ENDS

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

1,502,319 signatures were officially submitted to the European Commission calling for an EU ban on fur farming and sales

Humane Society International / Europe


Mink on a fur farm
Jo-Anne McArthur

BRUSSELS, Belgium―Today it was officially confirmed that 1,502,319 EU citizens have signed the Fur Free Europe European Citizens’ Initiative calling on the European Commission to ban fur farming and prohibit the placing of fur products on the European market. This marks the 10th successful European Citizens’ Initiative since the petition tool was launched, with seven of those 10 ECIs dedicated to animal issues. Fur Free Europe represents the most successful ECI for animal welfare, and the third most successful ECI overall. The ECI organisers will now meet with the European Commission and then attend a public hearing at the European Parliament, after which the European Commission must publicly respond to the initiative, before the end of the year.

The petition was launched in May 2022 with the backing of more than eighty animal protection organisations from across Europe, and closed on March 1st, more than two months earlier than its official deadline, thanks to a record number of unconfirmed signatures collected: 1,701,892 in less than ten months. The ECI also successfully reached the signatures threshold in twenty-one Member States, three times the minimum requirement of seven Member States.

“The overwhelming public support to this initiative has made one thing clear: fur must become a thing of the past. We are so proud to have achieved yet another step towards ending this cruel and unnecessary practice and now we call on the EC to use the new animal welfare legislation to make the wish of 1.5 million European citizens come true”, commented Reineke Hameleers, CEO of Eurogroup for Animals, the organisers of Fur Free Europe.

“There could not be a clearer sign than this enormous petition that there is no place for the cruelty of fur farming in a progressive, ethical society,” said Dr. Joanna Swabe, senior director of public affairs at HSI/Europe. “The European Commission now has a duty to propose legislation to consign this outdated practise to history and make Europe fur-free. Such a move would strengthen Europe’s position as a leader in animal welfare and humane progress.”

On all fronts, the existence of fur farming holds no reasonable grounds. In fur farms animals such as minks, foxes and racoon dogs are kept in tiny cages, hindered from displaying natural behaviour and killed solely because of the value of their fur.

In addition, the farms pose a significant risk to animal and human health, as demonstrated during the COVID-19 pandemic, when outbreaks on mink fur farms caused variants to be transmitted from animals to humans. From an environmental perspective, the use of toxic chemicals in the production of fur also makes it a significantly polluting industry.

ENDS

Media contact: Yavor Gechev, communications director for HSI/Europe: ygechev@hsi.org ; +359889468098 ; +393515266629

Save Cruelty-Free Cosmetics: Commit to a Europe without Animal Testing ECI moves forward with a hearing at the European Parliament.

Humane Society International / Europe


Jacob Studio/iStock.com 

BRUSSELS—In an unprecedented milestone, the European Citizens Initiative  “‘Save Cruelty-Free Cosmetics —Commit to a Europe without animal testing” reached more than 1.2 million validated signatures in January. This is the second ECI on this issue that has surpassed the one million signature mark.

Continuing on its formal journey, after an initial meeting between the ECI organisers and the European Commission, the next step was the parliamentary hearing, held by the Committees of the European Parliament. The hearing was divided into three parts, corresponding with the ECI’s three objectives:

  • Protect and strengthen the cosmetics animal testing ban: initiate legislative change to achieve consumer, worker and environmental protection for all cosmetics ingredients without testing on animals for any purpose at any time.
  • Transform EU chemicals regulation: ensure human health and the environment are protected by managing chemicals without the addition of new animal testing requirements.
  • Modernise science in the EU: commit to a legislative proposal, plotting a roadmap to phase-out all animal testing in the EU, before the end of the current legislative term.

The ECI organisers: Cruelty Free Europe, Eurogroup for Animals, the European Coalition to End Animal Experiments, Humane Society International/Europe, and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals proposed actions for a win-win-win scenario for science, society and animals by supporting once again a plan to transition to non-animal science.

During the hearing, the Directorate General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs—the Commission’s department for growth—committed to “try to be as ambitious as we can possibly be” in reaching their “ultimate goal of phasing out animal testing in the long-term”. This was reiterated by Ms Carmen Laplaza Santos, of the EC’s Health Innovations & Ecosystems unit, who promised the Commission’s final and detailed response to the Initiative by the end of July.

Over ten million animals—cats, dogs, rabbits, mice and others—are harmed every year in research and testing in laboratories around Europe. European citizens are demanding an end to the use of animals in cosmetics and other chemical tests, as well as an achievable plan to transition to a science without the use of animals.

Troy Seidle, Humane Society International vice president of research and toxicology, said:

“Reforms to the EU’s chemicals law are urgently needed to close loopholes that have allowed authorities to demand new animal tests for cosmetic ingredients, and reposition animal-free approaches as the gold standard for modern safety assessment. The much anticipated REACH reform process is a once-in-a-generation opportunity for EU institutions to honour the will of citizens who supported this ECI by standing firm against the introduction of new or expanded animal test requirements. Going forward, citizens expect that every legal reform process will tangibly reduce the testing burden on animals—not make it worse—until the EU’s stated goal of full replacement is achieved.”

This overwhelming public support echoes the position taken in 2021 by the European Parliament, which led to a resolution calling on the European Commission to coordinate, together with Member States, a concrete plan to accelerate the transition to non-animal testing.

The EP hearing was also the occasion to launch the Save Cruelty Free Cosmetics – Commit to a Europe without Animal Testing briefing prepared by the ECI organisers.

“Citizens are calling on the EC to take a leadership role in the transition to non-animal science and drive a new way of thinking without animal experiments. We would like to thank the citizens, the NGOs, the researchers, the industry, the governments and the members of parliament that already support these goals. This ECI shows that EU citizens share many of this Parliament’s positions as laid out in the EP Resolution. We are confident that the EP will help to break the cycle of harms that come with animal experimentation, by supporting once again the end of all animal testing for cosmetics, no additional animal tests for safety assessments, and a roadmap to accelerate the transition to non-animal research, regulatory testing, and education,” commented Sabrina Engel, chair of the organising committee for the ECI.

ENDS

Notes

Media contact: Cassie Bodin-Duval, International Coordinator, Media Relations, Humane Society International/Europe: cbodinduval@hsi.org ; +32 (0) 469 149 469

Humane Society International / Europe


Pigs
dpa picture/Alamy

BRUSSELS—As the trade negotiations between the European Union and Australia move closer towards conclusion, representatives of animal protection NGOs and the negotiating teams from both sides today convened today at the European Parliament for a roundtable discussion organised by Humane Society International, exploring its potential positive effects on animals in farms or in the wild.

The inclusion of animal welfare and environmental provisions in EU trade agreements has become standard practice in recent years, but incorporating commitments on farm animal welfare in their free trade agreements is novel to their Australian negotiating partners. While the final outcome is not yet known, the EU’s text proposals tabled in 2018 sought to enhance cooperation and facilitate the exchange of information and expertise with an aim to align regulatory standards for farm animal welfare.

Dr Joanna Swabe, senior director of public affairs for Humane Society International/Europe, noted: “Here, in the EU, we are on the cusp of a major revision of our outdated animal welfare legislation. It is no secret that the European Commission has already committed to delivering a proposal to ban the caged confinement of food-producing animals, and—unless these ambitious plans are scuppered by internal politics—we are anticipating many other proposed legislative changes that will significantly improve the lives of millions of farm animals in the future. Crucially, in the context of international trade, it is believed that the Commission will try to introduce animal welfare requirements at import, meaning that animal products from elsewhere will eventually need to be produced under equivalent animal welfare requirements to be able to be placed on the EU market. Not only will that level the playing field for EU producers, but it means that other countries like Australia are going to have a lot of catching up to do if they want to maintain market access to the EU for their meat and other animal product exports in the future. Ultimately that should benefit the welfare of animals in Australia, too.”

Nicola Beynon, head of campaigns for Humane Society International/Australia, added: “This should be a real wake-up call for Australia. We are already lagging far behind the EU when it comes to our farm animal welfare standards, and the European Commission is now acknowledging that their standards are no longer fit for purpose and need a radical overhaul. It is imperative that our federal, state and territory governments start paying attention to what the animal welfare scientists, animal protection organisations and concerned citizens are saying about meeting the welfare needs of farm animals and take urgent action to revamp our own animal welfare laws and standards with the same kind of level of ambition that our European trading partners are showing.  Whereas, a reform of Australia’s environment laws that is underway must put a stop to the rampant deforestation that occurs for cattle production, and is imperilling iconic Australian species like the koala.”

With respect to wildlife protection, the EU’s initial text proposal for a Sustainable Development Chapter included specific commitments to implementing effective measures to tackle illegal wildlife trade, including demand reduction initiatives, and promoting the conservation and inclusion of additional species at risk of trade that are protected under CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species), plus implementing initiatives to enhance information sharing and cooperation between the parties to the CITES treaty with regard to (illegal) wildlife trade.

Previous trade agreements negotiated by Australia with its regional trade partners, particularly the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, have made robust commitments to the protection of biodiversity, including language on the protection of wildlife and the conservation of the environment, including the marine environment.

Facts

  • The breakfast roundtable event organised by Humane Society International/Europe and Humane Society International/Australia—in partnership with the Australian Alliance for Animals and Eurogroup for Animals—was hosted by German Green MEP, Manuela Ripa, was held at the European Parliament in Brussels and web streamed for stakeholders in Australia.
  • The EU and Australia formally entered into negotiations to achieve a free trade agreement in 2018. Thus far, 15 negotiating rounds have taken place between the Parties. More information on the trade negotiations and the EU text proposals can be found here.
  • Read Humane Society International’s detailed report about how the free trade deal is an opportunity to positively change the lives of millions of animals.
  • To underpin the planned legislative changes, the European Food Safety Authority has delivered a series of scientific opinions focusing on the welfare of various species farmed for food, including one supporting ending caged confinement for laying hens.

ENDS

Media contact: Cassie Bodin-Duval, international coordinator in media relations: cbodinduval@hsi.org ;+32 (0) 469 149 469

Humane Society International / Europe


HSI.

BUCHAREST, Romania―Romanian politicians and animal protection organizations from across Europe joined forces to call for a ban on fur farming in Romania, during a round table event in the Romanian parliament. The Romanian office of Humane Society International organized the event, which well-known TV presenter Simona Gherghe moderated.

Participants at the “For a fur-free Romania” event urged the Chamber of Deputies to approve draft legislation currently under consideration that would ban fur farming in Romania, putting an end to the cruel practice of breeding and killing animals such as mink and chinchilla for their fur. The Romanian Senate voted in favor of the proposed legislation in December last year, but the Chamber of Deputies has the deciding vote. If passed, the ban would see Romania become the 20th European country to close down such farms.

Representatives from 13 animal protection groups that are members of the Fur Free Alliance—an international coalition working to end fur farming—were present at the event to support the proposed law to ban fur farming. The ban was proposed last year following the release of a shocking undercover investigation by HSI/Europe exposing the appalling conditions on fur farms across Romania. The first ever footage taken inside Romania’s chinchilla fur farms showed animals confined in small, filthy wire cages, their legs often slipping through the wire floor, only to be killed for fur fashion in improvised gas chambers at just a few months old.

Speaking on behalf of the initiators of the proposed ban, deputy Gheorghe Pecingină called for a favorable vote in the Chamber of Deputies as soon as possible. Pecingină said: “It is time for Romania to shut down its fur farms, and for the Chamber of Deputies to follow the example of the Senate by voting in favor of this initiative. There are only a handful of such farms left in Romania, only for two species – chinchillas and American minks. The draft law no. 23 /2023 must pass, and Romania must join the majority of member states of the European Union that have banned this cruel, anachronistic activity.”

Humane Society International/Europe announced the launch of a publicity campaign and petition to demonstrate public support for a fur farming ban. Andreea Roseti, Romania director for HSI/Europe, said: “I urge Romania’s members of Parliament to make the right decision from a moral standpoint and ban fur farms. Not only is it morally unacceptable to cause animals suffering in the name of fashion, but there are so many fur-free alternatives to such clothing products. The conditions on Romanian fur farms are terrible, as demonstrated by the videos, photos and testimonies made public last year by HSI/Europe.”

Joh Vinding, chairperson of the Fur Free Alliance, said: “We applaud the Romanian politicians who are supporting legislation to ban fur farming. A ban will make Romania part of a growing movement across Europe where already 19 countries have listened to the overwhelming public opinion that animals should not suffer for fashion. This important legislation will save thousands of animals and bring us one step closer to a fur free Europe.”

At the end of the discussion, Fur Free Alliance members submitted a letter addressed to the Prime Minister and members of the Chamber of Deputies, requesting the rapid approval of the draft law for banning fur farms in Romania. The letter cited animal protection and public health as primary reasons for such a ban, and highlighted the decline in popularity and economic value of the fur industry in recent years.

To date, fur farming has been banned in 19 European countries including 14 EU member states: Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, France, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Slovakia and Slovenia. Proposed legislation to prohibit fur farming is currently being considered in Poland and Lithuania. A further two countries—Switzerland and Germany—have implemented such strict welfare regulations that fur farming has effectively ended, and three other countries—Denmark, Sweden and Hungary—have imposed measures that have ended the farming of certain species. Only a small number of EU member states, such as Romania, still allow the farming of animals for their fur to continue.

Earlier this year, the Fur Free Europe European Citizens’ Initiative collected more than 1.7 million signatories from citizens of the European Union. Addressed to the European Commission, the ECI calls for a ban on fur farming and on the trade of fur products in the European Union.

Download photos and video of Romanian chinchilla fur farms

ENDS

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

Humane Society International / Europe


Kateryna Kukota

BUCHAREST, Romania—Four fashion brands in Romania have pledged to go fur-free after working with Humane Society International/Europe, and have become the first designers in Romania to join the global Fur Free Retailer program. Ioana Ciolacu, Muse um Concept, REDU and OCTAVIA CHIRU now join the almost 1,600 fashion brands, retailers and designers in 25 countries around the world to join Fur Free Retailer, including Gucci, Moncler, Prada, Adidas, H&M and Zara.

The fur-free announcements come at a crucial moment in HSI/Europe’s campaign to end the fur industry in Romania, with three committees in the House of Deputies discussing a bill to ban the keeping of mink and chinchilla for their fur. In December last year the Romanian Senate voted in favour of the bill.

Andreea Roseti, Romania country director for HSI/Europe, said: “HSI/Europe is pleased to have been able to work alongside these Romanian designers and fashion brands and applauds them for taking the important decision to join the Fur Free Retailer program. By making this commitment to a fur-free future, they are showing they are in tune with the growing majority of ethical consumers who believe that animals should not suffer in the name of fashion. Politicians in Romania also have an opportunity to take a stand against fur cruelty by supporting the bill to ban fur farming, and we hope that they will use their vote to consign this cruel industry to Romania’s history books.”

Romania is one of the few remaining EU member states where the keeping of animals for fur is still permitted. The practice has been banned in 19 European countries, including 14 EU member states, following public and political concern about animal welfare and the spread of zoonotic diseases. The fur industry in Romania is in decline, with the number of fur farms having dropped dramatically from more than 150 in 2013 to 13 in 2022. Despite this, two large mink farms and around a dozen chinchilla farms still operate, producing approximately 100,000 mink pelts and 15,000 chinchilla pelts annually.

Last year, an HSI/Europe undercover investigation exposed the animal suffering and deprived living conditions on Romanian chinchilla farms, where the animals are kept in small, dark and dirty cages, the females forced into a nearly permanent reproduction cycle before their short lives are ended by neck-breaking or in improvised gas chambers.

Around the world, there is increasing public outcry about the ethics of keeping and killing animals in factory farm conditions solely for fur fashion. In recent years, additional public, political and scientific concerns have intensified after mink on more than 480 fur farms across Europe and North America tested positive for the virus that causes SARS-CoV-2 including instances where the virus was transmitted to humans. Foxes and raccoon dogs, common species bred for fur, are also susceptible to the virus.

Public demand for an EU-wide ban on fur farming and fur imports has also been clearly demonstrated during the past 10 months. The Fur Free Europe petition collected more than 1.7 million signatures from EU citizens, and the European Commission is expected to respond within three months and to take action accordingly.

Ioana Ciolacu, the Romanian designer from contemporary womenswear fashion label of the same name, states: “Killing animals for fur is barbaric, unethical and in bad taste. When I see fur used in fashion, I see poor taste, so no animals should be killed in its name, because let’s be honest – no design can match this supreme sacrifice.”

Adina Orboi, the designer behind Muse um Concept, says: “Muse um Concept believes that nature, animals and people should be cared for and respected equally. It is an ethical choice not to use fur and other animal materials in my collections.”

Designer Andreea Sofronea from the sustainable fashion social enterprise, REDU, says: “For nearly eight years, our primary focus has been on environmental protection and making a positive impact on the planet. With technological advancements and sustainable alternatives in the textile industry, fur farming has become obsolete, inhumane, and purposeless in today’s society.”

Octavia Chiru from OCTAVIA CHIRU says: “We’ve created our sustainable fashion brand in a world of consumerism to make a difference. We want a future for everyone, a healthy one!”

Fur facts

  • More than 100 million animals are killed for their fur every year worldwide—that is equivalent to three animals dying every second, just for their fur.
  • Fur farming has been banned in 19 European countries including the Netherlands, Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Croatia, Slovenia, Luxembourg, Malta, Ireland, Estonia, France, Italy and most recently, on 22nd September 2022, Latvia. Political discussions on a ban are also underway in Romania, Lithuania and Poland. A further two countries (Switzerland and Germany) have implemented such strict regulations that fur farming has effectively ended, and three other countries (Denmark, Sweden and Hungary) have imposed measures that have ended the farming of certain species.
  • The Fur Free Retailer program is the world’s leading initiative to connect fur-free businesses with customers looking for ethically sourced products. The program is free to join and aims to advise and encourage companies to go fur-free and further the spirit of ethical consumerism. The program is initiated by the Fur Free Alliance, an association of more than 50 animal welfare organizations, and is represented in Romania by Humane Society International/Europe.

ENDS

Media contact: Yavor Gechev, communications director for HSI/Europe: ygechev@hsi.org +359889468098

Hunts to kill polar bears, giraffes and African elephants promoted by cruel industry despite 89% of the public opposing trophy hunting

Humane Society International / Europe


Wildlife trophies
Ton Koene/Alamy

MADRID—Humane Society International/Europe found that at least 54 outfitters at one of EU’s largest hunting fairs, Cinegética, were selling trophy hunts for internationally protected species.

Trophy hunters and industry gathered at the fair in Madrid to congratulate each other and brag about another year of conquests, including the trophy hunting of threatened and endangered species like addax, rhinoceros and leopards, and to increase sales for the deaths of hundreds of additional animals for entertainment. From March 23 through 26, foreign and domestic outfitters promoted special deals and luxury vacations to kill some of our world’s most important and imperiled wildlife; flouting the global biodiversity crisis to which direct exploitation of organisms, such as poorly managed trophy hunting, is the second largest contributor.

The species whose lives were offered up for sale include polar bears, lions, African elephants and leopards wrapped up in special holiday packages offered at relatively low prices, like 900 euros for a giraffe and 4,500 euros for a hunt to kill a female lion—including international flights and 7-day accommodations. Other emblematic species like elephants or rhinos were assigned heftier price tags given their rarity and high demand—as much as 24,500 euros and 60,000 euros respectively.

Special packs were on offer with additional animals, such as jackals or warthogs, included for free as extra perks or to serve as bait for hunting larger carnivores. Numerous trophies from different species like giraffe, African lion, brown/black bear and also polar bear were on display to drive demand for these rare and iconic species and to celebrate the hunters at the forefront of this destructive industry.

The event also served as the backdrop for the signing of the first transatlantic agreement between Safari Club International and Cinegética to further advance the trophy hunting industry’s objectives. This newly founded “largest alliance to promote hunters’ way of life,” and the claim “first for hunters” shows their intention to remove or block any obstacles to hunting activity, including much needed legal and regulatory protections for threatened and endangered wildlife.

In addition to sales and promotions, the Cinegética also served as an awards show for best foreign hunting trophies. Gold, silver and bronze medals were awarded to hunters for “achievements” in killing animals in Africa, America, Asia and Europe. Victims of the winners included CITES-listed species, like cougar and black bear.

An award was also handed out in a special category for trophies hunted with bow and arrow—a practice that is strongly criticised. Studies show that its use may result in a 50% wounding rate (animals injured, but not killed), suggesting that this method is far from being a clean kill and inflicts tremendous suffering to the target animal1. There was also one special award “Premio Nikon” sponsored and owned by camera and lens manufacturer Nikon, to the overall best trophy, a blue sheep (Pseudois nayaur), of which Spain is the biggest importer in the EU.

Dr. Joanna Swabe, senior director of public affairs for Humane Society International/Europe, said: “It is shocking to see that Cinegética is giving a promotional platform to the trophy hunting industry and dedicating large parts of the fair to the senseless slaughter of endangered wildlife. Immediate action must be taken to halt the promotion of trophy hunting at this fair”.

The vast majority (89%) of Spanish citizens clearly oppose the trophy hunting of internationally protected species. Overall, 84% support legislative change to ban the import of hunting trophies from threatened and endangered species to Spain.

Background:

  • Spain is the second largest importer, after Germany, of hunting trophies from mammal species listed under CITES. Between 2014 and 2020, Spain imported at least 3,208 hunting trophies from 56 different CITES-listed mammal species. The top five imported species were Hartmann’s mountain zebra (267), chacma baboon (256), lion (255), African elephant (220) and Siberian ibex (197). Spain also imported species that are classified as extinct in the wild by the IUCN, like Scimitar oryx and Arabian oryx. Furthermore, eight polar bears, one black rhinoceros, which is classified as Critically Endangered, and one tiger were imported as trophies from hunts. The numbers of imported species to Spain show that there is a steady increase during this time span of more than 50%, from 367 imported trophies in 2014 to 552 in 2020.
  • Other European countries, such as the Netherlands, Belgium, France and the UK, have banned or are in the process of banning the imports of hunting trophies of endangered and threatened species.
  • In Spain, the Parliamentary Association for the Defense of Animal Rights held an event last year for International Wildlife Day where international experts explained the risks and dangers that trophy hunting has for endangered and threatened species. At the event, the Associations’ MP presented a Parliamentary initiative calling for a ban on hunting trophy imports of species listed in Annex A and seven species from Annex B (polar bear, African elephant, African lion, argali, hippopotamus, white rhino and the giraffe) of the EU Wildlife Trade Regulations.

Note to editor:

[1] Ditchkoff, S., Welch, E., Lochmiller, R. L., Masters, R. E., Starry, W. R., Dinkines, & Lincoln, R. (1998). Wounding Rates of White-tailed Deer with Traditional Archery Equipment. Proceedings of the Annual Conference of the Southeast Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies 52, 244–248.

ENDS

Media contact: Adeline Fischer, senior communications manager for HSI/Europe: afischer@hsi.org; +49 17631063219

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