Dutch fur farms have killed 575,000 mink, mostly pups, following coronavirus outbreak

June 11, 2020 1 Comment

The Netherlands is expected to kill more than 350,000 mink by gassing, in a massive cull following an outbreak of coronavirus on fur farms in the country. It is estimated that most of these—about 300,000—are pups just days or weeks old.

The killing of animals on fur farms is heartbreaking under any circumstances, because of how utterly needless and preventable it is. But this tragic cull, and the scale of it, is a stark reminder of the many problems that surround fur factory farming, impacting both animal welfare and human health, and why all production of this unnecessary commodity needs to end immediately.

The problem came to light in April, when two fur farm workers in the Netherlands were found to have contracted the coronavirus from mink, which is the only known animal-to-human transmission following the initial outbreak. In following weeks, 13 of the Netherlands’ roughly 130 fur farms reported mink infected with the virus. And the number of infected farms keeps on growing. The farms said more mink were dying than usual, and some had nasal discharge or difficulty breathing.

This month, the government ordered all mink on infected Dutch fur farms be killed to prevent the further spread of the coronavirus to humans. The cull, which began last week, has farm workers in protective clothing using gas to kill mink mothers and their pups. The animals’ bodies are then transported to a disposal center in a sealed shipping container and the farms disinfected.

It is now clear that these fur farms, where animals are crowded in close contact with each other, are reservoirs for the spread of pandemics. Organizations like ours have been sounding the alarm bell over fur farms—and the high risk for disease they pose—for years, and as tragic as this development is, it is not surprising to us.

Fur farms also pose an extraordinary animal welfare problem. Much like factory farms and wildlife markets, the animals in these operations live short, miserable lives in small, barren and filthy cages, usually without any veterinary care. A Humane Society International investigation of Finland’s fur farms last year showed many animals had eye infections and gaping wounds, including a mink with a large, bloody hole in the head. Some animals lay dead in the cages and others ate them or walked over them.

Such fur farms exist around the globe, including in the United States, where the top 10 states for mink pelt production (in order of most to least) are Wisconsin, Utah, Idaho, Oregon, Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Washington. As part of our 11-point policy plan to reduce animal suffering and help prevent future national and global pandemics, the Humane Society family of organizations is calling for an end to all fur farming everywhere it exists around the world.

We have already made tremendous progress in fighting fur, with dozens of fashion designers and retailers turning away from this cruel product in recent years. In the United States, California has banned the production of fur and all sales of new fur products. Globally, Britain became the first country in the world to ban fur production, and it has been followed by a dozen European countries, including Austria, the Czech Republic and Norway.

The Netherlands, once the third largest fur farming country in the world, banned fur production in 2013 with an 11-year phaseout. But the tragedy now playing out in the country is an opportunity for the government there, and for governments in all fur-producing nations, to take note of the serious public health and animal welfare problems associated with fur farms and close them down without delay. With the pandemic still ravaging the globe, it simply doesn’t make sense for anyone to reinvest in an enterprise that’s fallen out of fashion and favor the world over.

Canada Goose plans shift to reclaimed fur over wild coyote product

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Luxury parka maker Canada Goose Holdings Inc. plans to start using reclaimed fur for its coats and stop purchasing new fur in a couple years even though some animal rights groups don’t see the reversal as a victory for wildlife.

“We remain committed to the functionality and sustainability of real fur, however we are challenging ourselves to do it better, reusing what already exists,” the company said in its first sustainability report released Wednesday.

For five decades, it has used wild coyote fur from Western Canada and the U.S., that it says its suppliers ensure never comes from fur farms, among other measures.

However, Canada Goose will start making parkas with reclaimed fur in 2022 and stop purchasing new fur that same year in an effort to satisfy consumer demand, the company said.

It notes people living in the North have worked with reclaimed fur for decades and the initiative was inspired by their resourcefulness.

The company also plans to launch a consumer buy-back program for fur in the coming months.

“We believe we must operate sustainably. It’s the right decision for our business, our customers and most importantly, our future,” the report reads, which notes consumers today want more information about fur sustainability and animal welfare, and demand more transparency.

Canada Goose did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Canadian animal rights group Animal Justice called the change “a stunning reversal” prompted by shifting public opinion about fur for fashion, as well as years of advocacy against Canada Goose’s use of fur. It noted California recently banned the sale of new fur.

However, the Canada Goose announcement is still only a “partial victory,” the group said.

“It would be better for the company to abandon fur and down altogether,” noting the switch to reclaimed fur doesn’t help ducks and geese whose feathers are used for down.

The company addresses its use of down in the report, saying it chooses “natural down in jackets because it is the best natural source for warmth per weight ratio.”

Last year, Canada Goose committed to the responsible down standard (RDS) and commits to being certified fully by 2021.

“The RDS aims to ensure that down and feathers come from animals that have not been subjected to unnecessary harm.”

RDS prohibits down or feather removal from live birds and force feeding, according to its website. Its standards also include other measures, including auditing each stage in the supply chain by a professional, third-party certification body.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals called the change to reclaimed fur an attempt to “humane wash” and that “real fur is always cruelly obtained.”

PETA and Animal Justice have fought Canada Goose over its use of animal products.

On Tuesday, an Ontario court dismissed PETA’s application for a judicial review. PETA argued its right to free expression was violated when its anti-Canada Goose ads were taken down in Toronto. Animal Justice intervened in the case and supported PETA’s position.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 22, 2020.

RELATED IMAGES
  • Canada GooseJackets are on display at the Canada Goose Inc. showroom in Toronto on Thursday, November 28, 2013. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Aaron Vincent Elkaim)

The Queen has ditched buying fur — here’s what northern trappers think

To some, the decline of the international fur market is a chance to return to traditional ways

Buckingham Palace says new outfits designed for the Queen won’t use real fur. (Johnny Green/AP)

From August to January, it’s hard to find a trapper in the North.

Most are deep in the bush, working traplines that, in some cases, have been in use for hundreds of years.

So they probably haven’t heard the news yet: they’ll have one less customer for their furs this year — and she’s a big one.

Queen Elizabeth, Canada’s head of state, announced last week she would no longer purchase fur.

“Our only comment on this story is as follows: As new outfits are designed for the Queen, any fur used will be fake,” wrote her communications secretary.

The palace said that doesn’t mean fur on existing outfits will be replaced or that the Queen would never wear fur again. “The Queen will continue to re-wear existing outfits in her wardrobe.”

Gordon Zealand, executive director of the Yukon Fish and Game Association, said, “The trappers I know are all out on their lines currently.

“At the same time all would be disappointed with the decision.”

Rosemarie Kuptana, an Inuk former politician and cultural advocate, said she was “somewhat shocked, and then disappointed.

“I think it’s a real departure from the commitment to Inuit as a people … because fur is important to our way of life.”

Decision follows public opinion

The Queen’s decision follows those made by the world’s biggest fashion houses to ditch using fur in their designs — Gucci, Prada and Armani among them.

D’Arcy Moses, a Dene fashion designer with a workshop in Enterprise, N.W.T. who uses fur in some of his work, said the shift has been the result of “pressure … from the really strong anti-fur movement in Europe and the U.K.

“The whole gamut of the industry has done an about-face,” said Moses. “No one wears mink coats anymore.”

Financially, it’s another blow to a Canadian fur industry that appears to be in terminal decline.

Just last month, the world’s second largest fur auction house, North American Fur Auctions — a former subsidiary of the Hudson’s Bay Company with over three centuries of history — went into creditor protection.

It now says wild and farmed fur auctions planned for 2020 are unlikely to go ahead.

Industry assessments show some tanned and taxidermied products remain in high demand at auctions, and Jackie Yaklin, secretary treasurer for the Yukon Trappers Association, said wild trappers are responding by increasingly sending pelts to be tanned out of territory.

But Mark Downey, chief executive officer of Fur Harversters, Canada’s other major fur auction house, wrote in his 2019 wild fur market forecast that “many fur species are selling below acceptable levels” — even if a surge in Chinese interest led to a moderate recovery in prices this summer.

Even beyond the industry impact, the Queen’s rejection of new fur carries an important symbolic weight, ending a centuries-long relationship with northern Indigenous trappers.

It’s a real departure from the commitment to Inuit as a people … because fur is important to our way of life.– Rosemarie Kuptana, Inuk former politician and cultural advocate

“What she wears is very important,” said Kuptana. “She is, after all, a world leader, a monarch” of 16 Commonwealth countries, “and in these … countries, there are Indigenous people who [have a] relationship with the land that requires them to hunt and trap.”

“The fur trade was how Canada was made,” she said. “It’s how Canada was built…. So fur was always a very important aspect of our relationship with the royalty.”

Trading fur ‘to the liking of the colonizers’

Francois Paulette helped found the Indian Brotherhood of the Northwest Territories, the precursor to today’s Dene Nation. He also sued the Crown over the treaty rights of Indigenous people in 1972 in a famous case known as the “Paulette caveat.”

Paulette said what the Queen decides to wear is “her business.” But he added that the failure of the fur industry could be grounds for another lawsuit against the Crown.

Francois Paulette, who sued the Crown over treaty rights in 1972, says colonialism built the fur industry, and the Crown could be liable for its failure. (Pat Kane/CBC)

“It was the Hudson’s Bay [Company] … that initiated trapping into our part of the world,” said Paulette. “Trapping became a way of life that never existed.”

Paulette said the meteoric rise of the fur trade fundamentally altered northerners’ relationship to the land and animals.

“Before that … our people, the Dene, lived in balance with nature, and we took what we needed,” he said.

“But something changed, and that was when the Hudson’s Bay [Company], along with the British Crown, came to our lands. From there on, our whole civilization, our way of life began to change to the liking of the colonizers.”

Now, Paulette said, with the bottom falling out of the fur trade, Dene people are left at loose ends, with a marred relationship to nature.

“The Hudson’s Bay [Company], that has taken us down the road, and we have nothing at the end,” he said.

For others in the North, the Queen’s wardrobe could not be a more remote concern.

“That’s her choice and that’s her life,” said Andrew Akerolik, a trapper in Nunavut’s Kivalliq region.

“I’m sure she has no concern for me here.”

Forget about fur, Sundays and all days

Cruelty, not luxury.
Cruelty, not luxury. (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson is being dubbed an animal hero on the heels of a package of animal protection bills, from a ban on foie gras to new work standards for carriage horses.

Animals are in trouble if this is the best the city can do.

In the spring, Johnson sounded like an animal hero during the public hearing for a ban on fur sales. He berated the furriers in attendance for the horrific ways they treat animals before they kill them, and urged his colleagues to ban the sale of fur in the city, calling it the “moral thing to do.”

But the fur ban never made it over the finish line. I guess morality takes a backseat when there are political pressures.

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It seems that Johnson, who is eyeing a mayoral run in 2021, doesn’t want to draw the ire of a group of black clergy members, who came out in opposition, arguing that fur garments had a special significance in their community. We’ve read headlines like, “Proposed fur ban pits animal rights advocates against black ministers.”

But we disagree that because someone wants to defend the rights of animals, they’re somehow against African-American churchgoers. That’s insulting, and nothing could be further from the truth.

The storyline that fur is a natural fit for church, and that black people have some special affinity for animal cruelty, has been stoked by the fur lobby. Knowing it will always lose the animal cruelty arguments, it creates distractions.

Why is Johnson falling for this disgraceful move?

The reality is wearing your “Sunday best” is not exclusive to one community or another. I’m white and grew up in the Roman Catholic Church in a small town in Connecticut. When it got colder, my mom dressed my sister and me in rabbit coats and hand muffs, while she donned her red fox coat that my dad had given her.

My dad came from very humble beginnings, but eventually opened his own jewelry store. Those coats, and the Cadillac he drove around in, represented that he had made it.

Regardless of race, we all have a history of having seen fur as a status symbol. And regardless of race, we can all overcome that history to do the right thing.

NYC, one of the fashion capitals of the world, is missing an opportunity to be a role model for consumers across all ethnicities by showing them a look of status, or a desire to dress up as a sign of respect, can be achieved with faux fur.

It’s the same fur look, but it doesn’t kill. In my own household, we evolved. I vividly remember the pink faux-fur coat that replaced the real thing when we realized animal cruelty does not look good on anyone.

Surely, one would assume people attracted to fur as a status symbol would reject a mink coat once they learned the confined animals are riddled with injuries, covered in sores and living in their own feces because their cages often go uncleaned for weeks. Fur farms are as far from luxury and prestige as one can get.

Furthermore, New York City is already becoming one of the most vibrant places for faux fur — successful, eco-friendly, luxury fashion labels have opened here.

A ban on retail fur sales in the nation’s fashion capital will spare the lives of millions of animals who skins are sold here in the name of luxury and status.

The city’s fur industry is already disappearing; the number of manufacturers and retailers selling it has dropped precipitously. Dozens of big-name fashion designers — many headquartered here — have already spurned fur. Macy’s, whose flagship store is in New York, just announced it is ending fur sales by the end of 2020. Multiple municipalities have banned fur sales, including Los Angeles and the entire state of California.

It’s more than disappointing that this bill has stalled just because it’s going to be tougher than others to pass.

We humans are capable of being guided by reason. Let’s act like it.

Rivard is editor at Friends of Animals.

Macy’s becomes biggest US retailer to end fur sales

Humane Society applauds move as department store joins companies, cities and states rejecting real fur clothing

Macy’s CEO said the company had been following consumer brand trends.
 Macy’s CEO said the company had been following consumer brand trends. Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Macy’s has announced it will end the sale of fur across its stores, notching a major win for animal rights activists.

The US retailer joins a growing number of brands, cities and states turning away from the use of products made with animal fur. Prada, Ralph Lauren, Gucci and Burberry have already dropped real fur.

While Macy’s is not the first US department store to end fur sales – JCPenney and Sears have already done so – the move is significant because of the company’s enormous size and reach. With sales of more than $24bn in 2018, and hundreds of stores in nearly every state, the decision will make the company the largest US retailer so far to adopt a ban.

Plans are to phase out real fur by the end of 2020’s fiscal year at Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s and its discount outlets.

Earlier this month, in a pair of bills signed by the state’s governor, Gavin Newsom, California became the first US state to ban the sale and manufacture of new fur products and the third to bar most animals from use in circus performances. Los Angeles and San Francisco had banned fur sales even before Newsom signed the bills.

Macy’s chairman and chief executive officer, Jeff Gennette, said in a statement that over the past two years the company has been following consumer brand trends, listening to customers and non-governmental groups such as the Humane Society of the United States.

“We are proud to partner with the Humane Society of the United States in our commitment to ending the sale of fur. We remain committed to providing great fashion and value to our customers, and we will continue to offer high-quality and fashionable faux fur alternatives,” Gennette said.

Kitty Block, the president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States, applauded Macy’s decision.

“This announcement is consistent with the views of countless consumers in the marketplace, and other retailers should follow. With so many designers, major cities and now a state taking a stand against the sale of fur, we’re that much closer to ending this unnecessary and inhumane practice,” Block said in a statement.

Animal rights advocates argue that animals whose fur is taken for products are subject to cruel treatment and inhumane actions, such as gassing and electrocution. One advocacy group, Direct Action Everywhere, is working with activists to pass similar bills in cities nationwide, including Minneapolis, Minnesota, and Portland, Oregon.

But opponents in the fur industry say the bans could create a black market for animal fur and lead to arbitrary bans on other products. Keith Kaplan of the Fur Information Council previously said the ban was part of a “radical vegan agenda using fur as the first step to other bans on what we wear and eat”.

PJ Smith, the director of fashion policy at the Humane Society, said he believed the shift in the fashion industry was being driven by a younger, more socially conscious generation of consumers.

“Across the board the industry has moved away from fur. I think the consumer is really speaking up on this and we’re at a time when retailers really want to align their policies to what customers want,” Smith said.

Macy’s has about 680 department stores in 43 states, the District of Columbia, Guam and Puerto Rico under the names Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s. It has about 190 specialty stores that include Bloomingdale’s the Outlet, Bluemercury and Macy’s Backstage.

California to become the first state to ban the sale and manufacture of fur

Gov. Gavin Newsom also signed a bill barring most animals from circus performances.

New Poll: New York City Voters Reject Fur

An overwhelming majority of NYC voters support banning the sale of fur apparel in the city, according to the results of a newly released poll<https://friendsofanimals.org/news/poll-shows-majority-of-new-york-city-voters-support-banning-fur-sales/>.

The poll, conducted by Mason-Dixon Polling and Research earlier this month, found that 75 percent of respondents support a citywide law to prohibit the sale of fur apparel. The results show widespread support for legislation introduced by City Council Speaker Corey Johnson – Intro 1476<https://legistar.council.nyc.gov/LegislationDetail.aspx?ID=3903503&GUID=EBE55293-8737-4620-945A-308ADC3A23DC&Options=&Search=> – that would ban fur apparel sales in the city. The Council’s Committee on Consumer Affairs and Business Licensing is holding a hearing on the bill Wednesday.

“The results show that New York City needs to take action to catch up to what is clearly society’s sentiment, that cruelty is not fashionable,” said Friends of Animals President Priscilla Feral. “NYC can be the ultimate fashion forward role model by passing this legislation. Showing compassion for animals, and all sentient beings, is one of the purest expressions of our humanity.”
Friends of Animals has joined with FurFreeNYC,<https://www.furfreenyc.com/blog/coalition-statement-of-support-for-intro-1476-a-bill-to-prohibit-the-sale-of-fur-apparel-in-new-york-city> a coalition of public interest organizations, to support the fur sales ban legislation. FoA will be showing support for the bill at a Wednesday rally at noon at City Hall and testifying at the hearing as well.

The poll showed that about two-thirds of voters surveyed in every borough supported the ban.

In a statement Monday, Feral noted there has been widespread misinformation about the fur ban bill circulating by opponents. The bill prohibits the sale of any fur or fur apparel including any skin in whole or part with hair, fleece or fibers attached. It does not restrict or prevent residents in any way from wearing fur apparel they have already purchased. The bill does not ban leather; it has exemption for fur worn as a matter of religious custom and for used fur.

Additionally, while opponents contend fur is environmentally sustainable, the fur industry likes to ignore studies that have found real fur to be the most harmful of all fabrics. The production of real fur is significantly more harmful than other types of fabric in 17 out of 18 areas including climate change, in part because of chemicals used to prevent the skins from decomposing and decomposing of mink feces, according to a study by CE Delft. Increasingly, faux fur manufacturers and fashion houses are using innovative, sustainable fabrics.

“The fur industry is trying to divert attention and scare the public,” said Feral. “But New York City residents understand the issue and want to see an end to the cruelty.”
***
Friends of Animals, an international animal protection organization founded in New York in 1957 and headquartered in Darien, CT, advocates for the rights of animals, free-living and domestic around the world. It has been a decades-long leader in the anti-fur movement. Friends of Animals is proud to be a woman-founded and led organization.

Fran Silverman

Fur farming banned or phased out in nearly half of EU states

PETITION UPDATE

Irish Council Against Blood Sports ICABS

Ireland, Ireland

JUL 27, 2018 — More and more countries in the European Union are ending fur farming. Contrary to a recent claim by Agriculture Minister Michael Creed that only “a small number of member states have imposed bans on fur farming”, the reality is that so far, there are full or partial fur farm bans or a phasing out of fur farming in nearly half of the EU states.

FULL FUR FARMING BANS

Belgium: The latest EU nation to announce a ban. The Flemish Government this month approved a decree that will make fur farming illegal from 1st December 2023.
England and Wales: Fur farming banned in 2000
Scotland: Fur farming banned in 2002
Northern Ireland: Fur farming banned in 2002 under the Fur Farming (Prohibition) (Northern Ireland) Order 2002
Austria: Fur farming banned in 2004
Croatia: A ban came into effect in 2018 after a 10-year phase-out
Czech Republic: In August 2017, the Czech Republic approved a ban on fur farming which will come into effect in 2019
Luxembourg: A law was passed in June 2018 that outlaws fur farming entirely from October 2018
Netherlands: Adopted a mink fur ban in 2012 and will phase out mink fur farming entirely by 2024
Slovenia: Banned fur farming in March 2013 with a three year phase-out for existing farms

PARTIAL FUR FARMING BANS

Denmark: Mink fur farming continues but from 2023, fox fur farming will be banned.

FUR FARMING PHASED OUT DUE TO STRICTER REGULATIONS

Sweden: Mink fur farming continues but fox fur farming has been phased-out following the introduction of animal welfare requirements stating that foxes could only be kept in such a way that they can be active, dig and socialise with other foxes. This effectively rendered fox farming economically unviable in Sweden. Chinchilla fur farming was also phased out.

Germany: In 2017, German politicians voted for stricter regulations that will bring fur farming to an end. Germany had adopted new regulations for fur farming in 2009, which required increased cage space for animals. The regulations also require the provision of swimming water for mink and an area for foxes and raccoon dogs to be able to dig. Fur farms would no longer be economically viable when complying with these regulations and therefore all German fur farms are expected to close down in 2023, after a 5-year phase-out period.

Spain: In 2015, Spain adopted stricter regulations to prevent ecological damage of escaping mink from fur farms. Spain no longer allows new mink fur farms to be built. Similar legislation led Japan to close down its last fur farm in 2016.

Poland: Proposed legislation to prohibit fur farming is currently being considered.

Bulgaria: 3 fur farms remain. On June 22 this year, 51,234 signatures were submitted to the Bulgarian Parliament by the National Citizens’ Initiative which is pushing for an amendment to the current legislation to “forbid the raising, killing and trade of animals for fur production in the Republic of Bulgaria”.

The remaining 13 countries in the EU – Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, France, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia – sadly continue to allow fur farming but campaigns to secure bans are ongoing.

Sources of information:
https://www.furfreealliance.com/fur-bans/
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fur_farming

ACTION ALERT

Please contact your TDs and urge them to support Solidarity’s upcoming Prohibition of Fur Farming Bill 2018. Contact details for TDs can be found at https://www.oireachtas.ie/en/members/tds/?term=/ie/oireachtas/house/dail/32 Also get in touch with the political parties to urge them to back the bill – find contact details at http://www.banbloodsports.com/parties.htm

Find out more about Solidarity’s Bill at
https://www.facebook.com/banbloodsports/videos/1750869355028615/

Join us in urging Minister Michael Creed and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar to put in place a long overdue ban on fur farming.

Email “Ban fur farming NOW” to Leo.Varadkar@oir.iemichael.creed@oir.ietaoiseach@taoiseach.gov.ieAnimalHealthAndWelfareAct@agriculture.gov.ie

Tel: +353 (0)1 6194000 (Leo Varadkar)
Tel: 01-607 2000 or LoCall 1890-200510 (Michael Creed)
Tweet: @campaignforleo @creedcnw Ban fur farming NOW
Comment on Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/campaignforleo/
https://www.facebook.com/michaelcreedtd

VIDEOS

ICABS footage – Victims of Ireland’s cruel far farming
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=artr7qwCLLk&index=2&list=PL43C1F00F38986C68

NARA footage showing caged mink in a fur farm in Donegal
https://www.facebook.com/NARAcampaignsIRELAND/videos/1694193503937318/

Mink pulled from cages and thrown into gassing box
https://youtu.be/m52k4aPXahU?t=3m6s