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Fur Farming in Ireland is not a Legitimate Activity, Says Group

For Immediate Release
July 9, 2008

Alan Donohoe: 086-8454377
John Carmody: 087-6275579

Ireland - ARAN is today sponsoring a new critique of fur farming in Ireland that finally exposes the Government's arguments, refuting all claims of legitimacy. Today's Irish fur farms breed more than 170,000 mink and hundreds of fox in small barren cages. The animals do not leave these cages until they are gassed or electrocuted. The Irish Government claims that fur farming is "a legitimate activity," voting down a ban introduced by the main opposition parties in 2005. Following close examination of the Government's arguments, disturbing facts emerge:

* Irish Statutory law requires that animals be allowed to exhibit normal behavior, based on scientific knowledge. The European Scientific Committee produced a welfare report detailing the problems of mink and fox, with recommendations on how to increase welfare. The problems and recommendations were dismissed by current-Minister Brendan Smith. He argued that the welfare report's conclusions were dependent on future research - a deliberately false claim to stonewall the opposition. * Licenses for mink farming are discretionary, based on a 1965 amendment that removed all restrictions on Ministerial power. The Minister also requires that mink be kept in cages, directly contravening statutory welfare law going back to 2000. * Fur farming will not be legal until mink and fox are provided with zoo conditions, which will of course destroy profit margins. Since the industry refuses to acknowledge behavioral needs and consequently refuses to implement zoo conditions, fur farming as an institution is legally unacceptable in Ireland. * The industry argues that farmed mink are domesticated. A close examination shows all arguments to be false and unscientific. Animals, like humans, cannot adapt to small barren cages, and all wild mink in Ireland originally escaped from fur factories. * Both the industry and the Government claim that fur is like meat. Their claim is only correct on economic grounds. Meat and fur are commodities, not creatures. These comparisons have nothing to say about how we treat animals.

"The Government has taken a back seat, allowing the fur industry to ignore welfare legislation. Irish people do not want animals to suffer, but nothing will happen until the Government is publicly challenged. The solution is quite simple: join the UK and Austria, and ban fur farming in Ireland." Said Alan Donohoe, spokesperson for ARAN.

What's wrong with fur farming? Animals are bred and slaughtered specifically for their skins at a time when cruelty free alternatives exist. Currently there are five fur farms in Ireland which cage up to 170,000 mink, arctic and silver fox. These animals are intensively reared in small cages before being killed at about six months old for their fur, by painful methods which include gassing and anal electrocution. A scientific report by the European Commission's Scientific Committee on Animal Health and Animal Welfare (published in 2001) concluded that typical farm conditions do not provide for the important needs of mink and foxes. Mink are semi aquatic but on fur farms they have no water for swimming, and foxes like to dig but cannot do so in their cages. Stereotypical behavior, where the animals carry out repeated meaningless actions is commonly seen on fur farms, is a recognized sign of stress. Animals on fur farms may chew at their own fur through stress and boredom.

Copies of the critique are available immediately upon request

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