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.
A Dying Industry
Every year, the well-organized fur trade spends millions of dollars to glamorize fur coats and accessories and to mask the real price of fur: pain, mutilation, and death for millions of animals. But as more people learn the truth about fur, growing numbers of furriers are going bankrupt. Less practical than alternatives and increasingly seen as offensive, the status of fur is status is slipping. Saga, a Norwegian fur manufacturer, in a bleak attempt to bring fur back in fashion, resorted to giving fur to students to work with in hopes of breeding a new generation of furriers.
The fur industry, which once only included the price of full-length coats in their numbers, has resorted to including fur storage and trim in their statistics to beef up sales reports. Actual fur sales decreased from $1.35 billion in 1990 to $648 million in 1993. The number of U.S. retail locations in 1993 alone fell from 192 to 46, and fur apparel imports dropped a staggering 48% in 1995. A February 1994 issue of The Trapper noted that, “from Alaska to Maine the number of those trapping, fur hunting and buying fur has plummeted to the lowest level yet recorded.” This trend has already saved millions of animals--but the anguish continues for millions of others.
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.
The Horror of the Ranch
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.
Nothing Natural about Fur
In the face of causing such notorious, unnecessary cruelty to animals, furriers desperate for positive things to say about their product often resort to the claim that furs are “natural.” In fact, turning an animal’s skin into a coat involves preserving it with toxic chemicals, such as formaldehyde—a known carcinogen—in order to keep the carcass from decaying.
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:
- 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.
- Write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper informing consumers of the cruelty inherent in every real fur product. Learn more about the cruelty of fur at www.furkills.org.
- Never let anyone wearing fur pass you by without politely informing them of the cruelty of fur.
- Contact IDA for a supply of leaflets to distribute or leave in heavily trafficked locations. We can also send you small pocket cards to hand out to fur wearers.
- Organize a protest. We can help! Contact [email protected] or visit furkills.com for more information.
- Persuade friends and family with fur coats to donate their coats to IDA 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.
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