•10 million animals are trapped for their fur each
year. The United States, Canada, and Russia account for most of the
worlds 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 that 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
•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
•Many animals will chew off their own limbs in a
desperate attempt at escape. This is especially common in raccoons.
A 1980 study found that as many as 1 out of every 4 raccoons caught
in a leghold trap would chew his 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. Studies show that padded
traps cause injury to 97% of the coyotes that they ensnare (study
available from CAFT).
•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. 514 of the foxes were considered
seriously injured, and 200 of them had knocked out teeth as they bit
at the trap.
•There are 150,000 trappers in the United States.
•Wisconsin, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Ohio and
Michigan are the leading trapping states.
The Facts: 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
•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 12 inches wide by 18
•The intensive confinement leads to self mutilation,
cannibalism, and a high level stress which breaks down the animals'
•Approximately 17% of ranch raised mink, and 20% of
ranch foxes die prematurely as a result of these factors.
•There are 415 mink 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
•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.
The Facts: 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 shearling. Actual fur sales are much lower, probably at about
•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 for giving 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."
From Coalition to Abolish the Fur Trade (CAFT) Website
Email: [email protected]
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An Environmental Nightmare: Fur
Return to 24 November 1999 Issue
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