Vanity Victims: The Truth About Fur
The Price for Fur
Killing animals for their skin and fur is one of the worst parts of the animal holocaust. They are farmed, trapped and skinned alive for human self centered vanity. The real price of fur must be measured in deaths–not dollars. To make one fur coat you must kill at least fifty-five wild mink, thirty-five ranched mink, forty sables, eleven lynx, eighteen red foxes, eleven silver foxes, one hundred chinchillas, thirty rex rabbits, nine beavers, thirty muskrats, fifteen bobcats, twenty-five skunks, fourteen otters, one hundred twenty-five ermines, thirty possums, one hundred squirrels, or twenty-seven raccoons.
Trapped in Agony
There are several methods used to trap animals in the wild. The most common is the steel-jaw leghold trap. Animals caught in a hidden steel jaw trap suffer a slow, excruciating death. The trap snaps down on the limb of an unsuspecting animal, sometimes breaking the limb. The trapped animals often freeze to death or are attacked by predators from whom they cannot flee. Many frantically chew off their own legs to escape the agonizing pain. If they are still alive when the trapper returns to the scene, they are bludgeoned or strangled to death. The method for killing a trapped animal, as described in, “Fur Trapping: A Complete Guide,” is to “Hit the trapped animal just forward of the eyes with the stick. While it is unconscious, use your knee or the heel of your shoe to come down hard behind the front leg. This ruptures the heart, and the coyote never regains consciousness.” The leghold trap is not just cruel; it is also indiscriminate. Trappers discard millions of “trash animals” not wanted for their fur, including domestic pets and endangered species. Trapped animals sometimes leave behind dependent young who are doomed to starvation, adding to the death toll for each coat. Companion animals, such as dogs and cats, have been trapped and killed after wandering into a trap.
In many cases, individuals who wear fur try to justify their actions by claiming their coat was made from animals killed on a ranch, as opposed to animals who suffered for days in a steel jaw leghold trap.
There is a misconception that the animals on fur farms, also called fur ranches, are treated humanely. Unfortunately, there is nothing humane about depriving animals of their behavioral and physiological needs. Fur farming is nothing more than institutionalized torture. Animal rights activists infiltrated a fur farm and reported these findings.
Why is fur farming so wrong? Of the thirty-one million animals killed on fur farms each year, nearly twenty-six million are mink and 4.5 million are foxes. In addition, 250,000 chinchillas, 150,000 sables, 100,000 fitch, 100,000 raccoon dogs (a separate species from the American raccoon), and a small number of lynxes, bobcats, and coypus are fur farmed.
Mink fur is the backbone of the fur industry, and fox fur is quite significant in Scandinavia where 80 percent of the world’s fox farms are based. Intensive confinement has severe psychological implications. Ranched mink often engage in neurotic behavior patterns. Many move back and forth in a repetitive motion for extended periods of time. Tail biting is a form of self-mutilation that is common in captive mink populations. Self-mutilation is a hardship for fur farmers because it devalues the animals’ fur pelts.
Mink are killed after their winter coat reaches “prime” to cover many of the flaws in the fur. Fur farmers recognize these flaws as being an unfortunate cost of conducting business. Since it is cost effective for the industry to cram animals into a small space and deal with the occasional stress related death or self-mutilation, evidence of neurosis and self-mutilation is accepted by fur farmers as normal mink behavior.
A Danish study indicates that as many as 17 percent of ranch raised mink will die prematurely as a result of various factors which could include stress, poor sanitation, heat, or cannibalism.
Horrors at the Farm
Animals raised on ranches are kept in cramped confinement and deprived of anything resembling a natural life, until finally they are killed, often by crude and painful means. Methods used include gassing, suffocation, or electrocution through the mouth and anus so that the “product”—the pelt—is not singed or stained with blood. Far from being “humane,” fur ranching is characterized by barren wire-mesh cages, isolation, and environmental deprivation so intense that animals often go insane, as animals used to roaming 15 miles each day go crazy from life in a cage. Animals are forced to endure all weather extremes, and veterinary care is typically non-existent since it is not cost effective to treat an animal whose fate is to be turned into a coat. Animals who are naturally solitary are caged together, often resulting in cannibalism, and animals are often left to decompose in cages with live animals.
Despite being a semi-aquatic animal, a mink will never have the opportunity to swim in water if she is born on a fur farm. Denied that option, many ranch mink die from heat related diseases in the hot summer months. Some years, as many as 10 percent of a fur farms stock may die from harsh weather conditions. The lack of exposure to swimming in water is also believed to increase behavioral problems in ranch mink.
As fashion trends change, so does fur farming. Fur farmers utilize selective inbreeding to encourage the development of mutant color phases to meet the whims of fashion. This process led to the development of white, gray, mahogany, and shades of blue fur on a mink. This style of genetic manipulation does not only change the mink’s hair color, but it creates physiological problems as well.
For example, the Hedlund white mink is a genetic mutant that was created on a fur farm. This mutated animal will lose her hearing at 30 days of age because of a genetic defect.
The Royal Pastel mink often develops what farmers call a “screw neck” deformity. A mink born with this deformity will twist her head and neck in an awkward motion repeatedly.
The Blue Iris mink suffers from a weakened immune system due to a deficiency of natural killer cells, while one strain of demi-mink has a stress syndrome. These unfortunate characteristics make life dreadful for these animals. These types of mutations are non-existent in the wild, but very common on fur farms.
Life for ranch-raised fox is not any more promising. Cannibalism is a very serious problem on fox farms. Foxes living in cramped conditions often resort to cannibalism as a result of a stress-induced environment.
An estimated 20 percent of foxes raised on ranches die prematurely. Half of those deaths are the result of cannibalism.
Animals on fur farms are not able to engage in their natural behaviors. They are treated like machines and commodities rather than living creatures with emotions. Their agony and certain death occur for the simple purpose of creating a luxury garment that serves no purpose.
Death for farm-raised animals is a horror story. The most common method used for killing foxes is anal electrocution. Mink are usually gassed or violently injected with poison. Many have their necks broken.
Chinchillas are also commonly raised on fur farms to be killed for their fur. The chinchilla industry proudly admits that most chinchillas are killed by neck breaking or electrocution. Chinchilla farmers hook one metal clamp to the ear, and another to the genitalia to implement the electrocution. The chinchilla is small, and as many as 100 of them are killed in order to make a single full-length fur coat.
It takes 60 female mink to make a coat, 35 male mink, and a varying number of foxes depending on whether it is a red fox, arctic fox, or a related color phase.
The anti-fur movement is making progress. Fox farming is now banned in the Netherlands, Sweden, and the United Kingdom. As a result of animal friendly legislation, which either outright bans fur farming or requires certain provisions for the animals (such as providing swimming water and banning the use of cages) which are not possible while remaining economically viable, Austria no longer has fur farms. This clearly indicates that there is a very serious concern for the welfare of animals in intensive confinement.
It is unclear how fur wearers can love and cherish one canine, such as their companion dog, while supporting the torture and death of another canine, the fox.
Furriers also claim that fur trapping is a necessary tool for wildlife management. However, trapping as a commercial enterprise can never be a wildlife management strategy. Proper wildlife management needs to be based on highly specific local circumstances, recognizing the delicate balance of a particular ecosystem. But the book “Fur Trapping: A Complete Guide” shows the true motivator for trapping—money. “The trapper should trap the fur most in demand. If bobcats bring a high of $400, as they did in 1976, he should concentrate on them.” Is this wildlife management—or slaughter for profit? Wildlife populations follow natural fluctuation curves. Unchecked hunting and trapping of certain animals have disrupted these fluctuations. The furriers’ and trappers’ scientifically baseless claim that they are “managing” wildlife is a thinly disguised ploy to kill the most profitable animals.
Once a symbol of glamour and success, fur is now a symbol of insensitivity, vanity, and greed. World-famous designers such as Giorgio Armani, Stella McCartney, Donna Karan, Geoffrey Beene and Calvin Klein now refuse to include fur in their collections. Leading retailers including Harrods of London and I. Magnin have stopped selling furs altogether.
Each of us can make the compassionate choice to not support such unnecessary cruelty to animals and to speak out on the animals’ behalf.
What You Can Do:
Organize a protest. We can help! Contact EmptyAllCages2000@gmail.com
Each year, anti- Fur groups protest the day after Thanksgiving to stop fur from being sold. It’s called Fur Friday.
If you’re ever in a store that you see sells real fur, please express your displeasure to the manager and ask them to stop carrying fur. To view contact information and write letters to notorious companies that sell fur, please visit www.furkills.org/wycd.html
Persuade friends and family with fur coats to donate their coats to In Defense of Animals firstname.lastname@example.org so that we may use them in anti-fur demonstrations, or to wildlife rehabilitators, who use the fur to provide bedding for injured or orphaned wildlife. As an extra motivator, donors can write the fur donation off on their taxes.