Animals In Print
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15 October 2011 Issue

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Ban The Fur Industry


10 million animals are trapped for their fur each year. The United States, Canada, and Russia account for most of the world's wild fur production.

Approximately two non-target animals are caught for every one furbearing animal. These non-target animals include squirrels, opossums, dogs, cats, and even endangered species and birds of prey who are attracted to baited sets.

The steel jaw leghold trap is the most common trap used by the fur industry, followed by the wire snare, and the Conibear body gripping trap which crushes the animal.

88 countries and 5 states have banned the leghold trap because of its inherent cruelty and because it is non-selective and traps whatever animal steps into it.

Congress has failed to pass anti leghold trap legislation, despite public opinion surveys showing that 74% of Americans oppose this device. These polls are verified by the fact that when given a chance, voters in CO, MA, and AZ voted to ban trapping.

Animals are left in these traps from anywhere from 1 to 3 days, and sometimes longer. Many times these animals will die from starvation, hypothermia, dehydration, or predation by another animal. Otherwise the trapper will shoot them, stomp them, or club them.

Many animals chew off their own limbs in desperate attempts at escape. This is especially common with raccoons. A 1980 study found that as many as 1 out of every4 raccoons caught in a leghold trap would chew his/her foot off to escape.

Some companies manufacture padded leghold traps for "cosmetic" purposes. These padded traps still have to slam shut with enough force to restrain a fighting mad wild animal. Animals caught in padded traps are still exposed to the elements and predators until the trapper returns to kill them. A study has shown that padded traps cause injury to 97% of the coyotes that they ensnare.

Many animals knock out their teeth as they bite at the jaws of the traps. In Sweden a study was conducted where 645 foxes were caught in leghold traps. 514of the foxes were considered seriously injured, and 200 of them had knocked out teeth as they bit at the trap.

There are 150,000trappers in the United States.

Wisconsin, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Michigan are the leading trapping states.

Fur Farming

31 million animals are raised and killed on fur farms each year. Mink account for 26 million, fox 4.1 million. Chinchillas, raccoon dogs (not to be confused with the North American raccoon), fitch and sable make up for most of the other ranch raised furbearers.

Mink are usually killed by gassing, neck breaking or poison injection. Most foxes are killed by anal electrocution, while chinchilla breeders recommend either neck breaking or genital electrocution.

Mink and fox are genetically wild animals that are not adapted to a life in captivity. Whereas a wild mink would range a territory that is approximately 3 square kilometers in size, a ranch raised mink is confined to a cage that is 12inches wide by 18 inches long.

The intensive confinement leads to self mutilation, cannibalism, and a high level stress which breaks down the animals immune systems.

Approximately17% of ranch raised mink, and 20% of ranch foxes die prematurely as a result of these factors.

There are 415mink farms in the US, which account for 10% of world production.

Scandinavian countries account for 80% of world fox production and 54% of world mink production.

Wisconsin, Utah and Minnesota are the leading mink producing states in the U.S.

Fur farmers have used inbreeding to develop mutant color phases in fur animals. This has led to genetic defects including white mink that are deaf and pastel mink with nervous disorders.

Many fur farms will feed the corpses of the skinned animals back to the live animals to save on feed costs. This sort of forced cannibalism was banned in the cattle industry because it was believed to cause Mad Cow disease.

Ferrets are raised on fur farms in Europe. Their skins are marketed as fitch fur. Studies show that as many as 2/3 of the ferrets on fur farms come down with disease as a result of the poor living conditions.

U.S. Fur Trade Economy

Fur imports into the US declined 8.9% in 1997. Imports account for 60% of US retail sales.

The fur industry claims that their annual sales are at $1.27 billion. This figure includes revenue from fur storage, cleaning, and repair, as well as from the sale of fur trim, leather, and shearing. Actual fur sales are much lower, probably  at about $700 million.

51% of all US fur sales take place in the Northeast, followed by 25% in the Midwest.

Fur trade journals described the winter of 1997-98 as the "most disappointing retail fur season in recent memory." Fur World magazine chastised industry PR groups forgiving them false hopes for a good season. This came after the Fur Information Council of America pitched numerous stories which falsely proclaimed that "fur was back."

Information and pictures on this page were compiled and provided by Coalition to Abolish the Fur Trade (CAFT).

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