ESTONIA, 5 FEBRUARY 2017 – 69% of the Estonian population does not support raising and killing animals on farms for fur and 75% of the Estonians disapprove of the use of animals in circuses, as was found in the latest survey by Kantar Emor.
According to the survey, that was commissioned by the animal advocacy organization NGO Loomus, 81% of women and 55% of men disapprove of raising and killing animals on farms for fur. 82% of women and 67% of men disapprove of the use of wild animals in circuses. 69% of Estonians and Russians disapprove of raising and killing animals on farms for fur. 83% of Estonians and 58% of Russians disapprove of the use of wild animals in circuses. Kadri Taperson, the manager of Loomus, says:
“Estonian residents’ support for ending animal exploitation in circuses and on fur farms is growing year by year. In comparison to the survey conducted a couple of years ago, the number of people who disapprove of fur farms has grown by 11%. In March 2014, 43% of the people in Estonia thought that wild animals should not be used in circus acts. So, the number of these people has grown by as much as 32% in two and a half years,”
854 People aged 15-74 years participated in the national omnibus survey conducted in December 2016 by Kantar Emor.
Public opinion polls in Europe show high percentages of the population that consider raising and killing of animals for fur unacceptable:
Read more about the public opinion against fur farming.
INDIA, 6 JANUARY 2017 – The Director General of Foreign Trade in India, which comes under the Union Ministry of Commerce and Industry, has banned the import of skins of reptiles, chinchillas, mink and fox through a notification issued on 3 January.
According to Fur Free Alliance member Humane Society International (HSI), “Worldwide millions of minks and foxes are kept in filthy and wire-floored cages until they are gassed and finally slaughtered for their fur.” The methods used in fur factory farms across the world are remarkably poor and designed to maximize profits, always at the expense of the animals.
At present, India’s import policy allows import of “raw hides, skins, leather, fur skins” of reptiles, mink, fox and other fur skins (whole, with or without head, tail or paws). But they are subject to India’s Wild Life (Protection) act, 1972 and CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora).
CITES is an international agreement between governments and it aims to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival.
Animal rights organisations had been urging the central government to take a clear stand on the issue and close the doors for trade in exotic skins. Union women and child development minister Maneka Sanjay Gandhi had earlier written a letter to the Union commerce and industry minister Nirmala Sitharaman highlighting the need to curb cruelty towards animals by prohibiting the import of exotic skins.
The Ministry of Environment and Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC ) and Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI), India’s nodal body for animal welfare, also supported the need to bring in the ban.
“We commend the Directorate General of Foreign Trade and MoEFCC for its firm commitment in abolishing the import of exotic skins. The exotic fur, skin and leather industry slaughters, bludgeons and skins millions of animals every year in the name of frivolous fashion. Nations across the world are switching to cruelty-free alternatives and we are glad that India is gradually emulating similar policies to reduce and eliminate unnecessary pain and suffering to animals,” said Gauri Maulekhi, who is HSI India’s government liaison.
CROATIA, 3 JANUARY 2017 – On January 1, the long-awaited Croatian fur farming ban, that was adopted in 2006, came into full force and was celebrated worldwide. After a phase-out period of 10 years the ban, that was supported by large majority of the Croatian citizens, finally came into effect signifying the end one of the cruelest and most critizised industries of today: the raising and killing of animals solely for the purpose of fur production.
The ban coming into force is the result of the long-lasting, dedicated, and persistent struggle of citizens, experts, institutions and animal protection organizations. On their behalf, Animal Friends Croatia will deliver a cake to the Ministry of Agriculture. This symbolic gesture is an act of gratitude to the competent ministry for heeding the public outcry and to celebrate the historic victory for animal rights in Croatia. A letter of appreciation will be sent to Prime Minister Andrej Plenković and President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović.
Most farmers of chinchillas, which are the only animals farmed for fur in Croatia, have ceased production in the years since the fur farming ban made it into the Animal Protection Act in 2006. But a scheming minority of farmers has continued to produce, aiming to bring down the ban. This summer, a chinchilla farming lobby singlehandedly managed to force the adoption of a new Animal Protection Bill, which leans in their favor. However, citizens resolutely rose against abolishing the ban.
Citizens, veterinarians, politicians, MEPs, public figures, civil society organizations, and institutions are all in support of the ban on fur farming. However, a new public hearing on the proposal to extend the phase-out period for an additional year, under urgency, was opened last December. The indignant public again rejected the proposal, as it did 10 years ago. Ethical awareness of the Croatian citizens has overcome petty financial interests and placed Croatia on the map of civilized countries that respect public opinion and are adopting high, ethical and environmental standards for the treatment of animals.
In recent years an increasing number of European countries have, or are considering, legislation to prohibit fur farming. In the last two decades the UK, The Netherlands, Slovenia, Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Macedonia all voted to ban the fur farming industry. Currently similar legislation is considered in Luxembourg, Czech Republic, Norway and Germany.
20 DECEMBER 2016 – In a historic ruling the Dutch Supreme Court has decided that the mink farming ban does not conflict with human rights, as was claimed by the Dutch mink farmers, and shall be upheld. This final verdict concludes a long ongoing battle in court of the Dutch Federation of Fur Holders against the government in an attempt to defy the ban and sets a significant precedent for other EU countries that are currently considering fur farming bans.
Read the verdict of the Supreme Court in English.
Read the verdict of the Supreme Court in Dutch.
The Netherlands is the fourth biggest fur farming country in the world after China, Denmark and Poland. On 160 mink fur farms, employing some 1400 people, nearly 6 million animals are killed for fur each year in The Netherlands. The law states that is illegal to breed and kill animals for fur since it can not be ethically justified. In 2024, after an 11-year changeover period, the needless suffering of animals on fur farms will finally have come to an end in the Netherlands.
Ever since Dutch Parliament voted for a ban in 2013, mink farmers have set out to defy the ban in court. According to the Dutch mink farmers the ban is in breach with their fundamental rights of protection of property – as it is set out in the First Protocol to the European Convention on Human Rights. Their claims are rejected by both the verdict of the court in The Hague and the verdict of the Supreme Court .
According to the Dutch Supreme Court a fur farming ban is not in breach of the European Convention on Human Rights. There is a fair balance between the protection of the fundamental rights of the fur farmers and the public interest served by the law. The law allows fur farmers enough time for a return of investment during the transition period and thus includes sufficient measures to compensate farmers for financial loss. Therefore the Supreme Court decided to maintain the earlier ruling of the court.
The final verdict means a huge victory for animals and will have a far-reaching impact on fur farming debates worldwide. Parliamentary discussions on similar fur farming bans are currently taking place in Belgium, Germany, Czech Republic and Luxembourg.
PRAGUE, 10 NOVEMBER 2016 – Fur farming will no longer be allowed in the Czech Republic by 2019 according to a bill that the Chamber of Deputies passed in first reading yesterday. The amendment prohibits the breeding and killing of animals solely or primarily for the purpose of fur and was submitted by about one fourth of the members of the 200-seat Chamber. They say the conditions at fur farms meet the given standards but they do not meet the needs of wild animals.
Nine fur farms operate in the country, breeding mostly minks and foxes. Approximately 20,000 animals are killed at the farms a year. The number of farms has been declining for a long time. Lucie Moravcová, head of Fur Free Alliance member organization Svoboda Zvířat, says:
“Today’s vote is a huge step towards victory for minks and foxes, which are bred in the Czech Republic and cruelly killed just for fashion items. Although it is not yet won, we are very happy with the outcome of today’s vote and thank all members who supported this significant step forward for the protection of animals. There is no reason to continue to allow fur farming – the public wants fur farming to be banned and the demand for fur products is negligible.”
The bill was submitted in the spring of this year by a group of 50 deputies headed by Chairman of the Committee on the Environment Robin Böhnisch. Operators can apply for financial compensation for having closed down their fur farms, but the state need not compensate them. Opponents of the bill say the ban on fur farms may lead to the establishment of illegal fur farms that will not be supervised by the State Veterinary Administration Authority. Even though illegal fur farms have not been reported to emerge as a problem caused by fur farming bans in other European countries. The bill will be discussed in the lower house agricultural and environmental committees now.
Read more about fur farming bans.
OSLO, 27 OCTOBER 2016 – Norwegian fur farms are facing a highly uncertain future after repeated reports of negligence and injured animals in recent years. The Norwegian Food Safety Authority (Mattilsynet) states their inspectors were shocked by high level of violations and injuries on Norwegian fur farms during recent inspections. This week Norwegian Fur Free Alliance member NOAH delivered a petition to the Ministry of Agriculture of 143000 signatures of Norwegians that favour a phasing-out of fur farms in Norway.
Now state regulators have found more suffering minks, and say it’s difficult to secure animal welfare at the farms. Torunn Knævelsrud, chief of the animal welfare division at the Norwegian Food Safety Authority, says:
‘When there’s been so much attention paid to the injured animals that have been found, it’s sad that we continue to uncover so many serious cases.’
One mink nearly skinned itself alive
New figures from the Norwegian Food Safety Authority show violations in nearly half of the inspections conducted, despite all the harsh criticism that’s been directed at the industry not only from animal rights activists but also from government officials and Members of Parliament. Many of the violations are technical in nature, but inspectors remain shocked by the animal injuries and neglect they continue to find.
Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) reported that five recent cases highlight “serious negligence” on the part of the fur farmers involved. One of them, located in Rogaland County, was fined NOK 30,000 after several of his caged minks were found with such large open sores that they had to be put to death at the scene.
According to the inspectors’ report obtained by NRK, the Rogaland fur farmer was charged with a lack of supervision of his animals, including one that had crawled into a plastic pipe and all but skinned itself alive in its efforts to free itself. “You had not seen that this mink was stuck in a pipe before Mattilsynet came for inspection, even though the extent of the injuries indicate that it had been stuck for many days,” wrote the inspector:
“We also point out that we found several of your animals with extensive sores that hadn’t been attended to (…) you have not followed up on your sick and injured animals in a good manner (…) you have shown a lack of empathy.”
The fur farmer denies he’s guilty of cruelty to animals and his attorney told NRK he will likely appeal the fine.
Fur farmers on the defensive
The fur farmers’ trade association and lobbying group, Pelsdyralslaget, also defends its members, claiming that many farmers have improved their practices and that most violations involve “technical deficiencies.” The group’s communications chief, Guri Wormdal, argues that animal welfare is no worse within fur farming than other farming operations. “We are also inspected the most often by Mattilsynet,” Wormdal told NRK.
The fur industry has been given many chances to reform and improve operations, and major state reviews have been undertaken, but now its fate is more uncertain than ever.
The state agriculture ministry is due to deliver its assessment to Parliament this fall, which is expected to determine whether the ministry will allow yet another chance for “sustainable development” or order a phase-out over the next several years. Many politicians, including several from the government parties, are already supporting the latter option. The opposition Labour Party has also supported a phase-out of the controversial industry.