: Fur Farming

Finland urged to end the breeding of severely obese foxes for fur

FINLAND, 8 NOVEMBER 2017 – The selective breeding of super-sized foxes, that was recently exposed on Finnish fur farms, has caused an uproar in the international press. The shocking footage, that shows Arctic foxes so large they can barely move, has alarmed citizens and animal rights organisations across the globe.

Member organisations of the international animal protection coalition Fur Free Alliance urge Finland to use all measures available to end the cruel breeding of the extremely overweight Arctic foxes.

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Veikka Lahtinen, the campaign coordinator of the Finnish animal rights organisation Animalia, says:

“The industry has been aware of the problem for a while. A study published in 2014 showed that during autumn as many as 86 percent of the animals had bent feet and a shocking 20 percent were morbidly obese. Officials need to take action and the Finnish Animal Welfare Act needs to grant officials a stronger mandate to ban selective breeding that causes significant damage to the animal.”

The Arctic foxes that are fattened up for the fur trade sometimes weigh 5 times their natural weight. As a result of the overweight, the foxes suffer from severe welfare problems such as loose skin and bent feet.

Member organisations of the Fur Free Alliance encourage companies in Finland and all around the world to give up fur products entirely and go fur-free. Brigit Oele, program manager of the Fur Free Alliance, says:

“Serious animal welfare problems are inherent to fur production. There is simply no way to keep animals in tiny battery cages without causing extreme suffering.”

International seminar in Sarajevo on the impact of fur farming

Last Thursday international experts gathered in Sarajevo to discuss the negative impact of fur farming on animal welfare and the environment. The event, organised by the Fur Free Alliance in collaboration with the Anti-Fur Coalition Bosnia and Herzegovina, addressed the problems associated with any extension of the phase-out period of the Bosnian fur farming ban.

The seminar was attended by various stakeholders in the fields of veterinary science, environmental protection, agriculture and politics. Representatives of the social democratic party Democratic Front and the Bosnian Aarhus Center and Friends of the Earth expressed their intention to actively support a swift implementation of the Bosnian fur farming ban.

Invitation Sarajevo Seminar

In 2009 the parliament of Bosnia and Herzegovina voted for a law to prohibit fur farming after a 9-year phase-out period. Earlier this year, one year before the ban would take effect, a law amendment was proposed that would extend the ban for another 10 years. Organisations worldwide have since urged Bosnia and Herzegovina to stay committed to the 2009 Act and make an end to the cruel practice of fur farming in 2018.

Pawel Rawicki, a representative of the Polish organization Otwarte Klatki, discussed the negative impact of fur farming on local nature, communities and economy. Between 2012 and 2017 nearly 100 protests of local residents were held in Poland to prevent the building or expansion of fur farms. A severe concern for local residents is the heavy odor of fur farms that can be smelled up to 6 kilometers away. Fly nuisance in neighboring buildings is another major complaint of local communities. The Polish case, Rawicki stresses, presents a grim warning to the citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina:

‘Local industries and real estate value suffer from the presence of large fur factory farms, which are most often owned by foreign investors in Poland (…) The fur industry exploits weak economies in eastern European countries.

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Speakers from the UK, Croatia en Germany discussed how the inherent cruelty of fur farming – as a result of the confinement of active carnivores in small wire mesh cages – has led their governments to decide to end fur farming. The serious animal welfare problems and the ethical concerns of society are causing an increasing number of European governments to ban fur farming in recent years.

New report calls for clearer labelling of real fur products in the EU

27 SEPTEMBER 2017, BRUSSELS – A new report by the Fur Free Alliance, presented at the European Parliament today, has revealed a woeful lack of compliance with an EU Regulation introduced in 2012 to alert consumers to the presence of real animal fur in textile products, leading the animal protection coalition to call on the Commission to urgently introduce transparent, mandatory labelling of all real animal products offered for sale within the European Union.

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Researchers in ten countries across the EU undertook a survey of 667 items of clothing containing real animal fur but failed to find the required wording in 68 per cent of cases. The problems were found to be most acute at the lower end of the fashion market on real fur items costing less than €50. These findings add to the groups’ concerns that the EU Textile Labelling Regulation (1007/2011) – even if fully complied with – does not go far enough to ensure consumers are being provided with the clear information they need to make an informed choice.

Read the full report Mislabelled and Misleading: Fur Labelling Problems in the EU Market

Dr Joanna Swabe, senior director of public affairs for Fur Free Alliance member organisation Humane Society International/Europe, says:

“This report shows that clothes shopping can be a serious minefield for consumers who wish to avoid real animal fur because of the cruelty involved in its production. We are concerned that the EU law is failing to adequately protect consumers. The issues we have identified, coupled with the worrying lack of compliance we have found, are leaving shoppers vulnerable to buying products they would normally choose to avoid for ethical reasons. Therefore, we are calling on the Commission to introduce legislation that simply requires all real fur to be clearly labelled as real fur.”

At present, there is no requirement for products containing real fur to state that fact on the label. Instead, the labelling Regulation, introduced in 2012, requires some items containing animal products (such as real fur, leather, feather, down and bone) to carry the wording “Contains non-textile parts of animal origin”. However, as the study shows, many real fur products are not carrying the wording and, even more confusingly for consumers, some of those same items are labelled as “100% Acrylic” or similar. 

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In addition, as the Regulation only covers textiles, a wide range of products, such as footwear, handbags and keychain accessories that contain real animal fur can be sold without any such labelling requirement.

The report findings also challenge the belief, held by many consumers, that real fur is expensive, with items trimmed with real fur, including the ubiquitous pompom bobble hats and hooded coats, found on sale for less than €50.

With autumn approaching and retailers stocking up on winter clothing, consumers need to be vigilant to avoid real animal fur – just because it’s a cheap price doesn’t mean it isn’t real fur; and just because the label doesn’t state it is made from real fur, doesn’t mean it doesn’t contain real fur.

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It is becoming increasingly clear that the 2012 Regulation is failing consumers. The European Commission needs to take urgent action to ensure that there is transparency in the marketplace and that all products containing real fur are required, by law, to be clearly and accurately labelled so that consumers can decide whether or not they wish to buy them,

 

Hugely overweight foxes revealed on Finnish fur farms

FINLAND, 19 AUGUST 2017 – New footage from five Finnish fur farms shows that the selective breeding of super sized foxes – which caused an uproar in the 1980s – has not come to an end. The video material was filmed during the spring of 2017, says Oikeutta eläimille (Justice for Animals), the organization that released the material.

Super-sized obese fox

Finnish Fur Free Alliance member Animalia has been campaigning against fur farming for decades. In 1989, the organization brought into the spotlight the oversized ”super fox”. The so-called super fox was an exceptionally large and fast growing fox which was systematically bred on fur farms. As a result of the 1989 uproar and the resulting public pressure, fur farmers stopped breeding these super foxes.

Watch the footage here:

However, over the last few years, selective breeding of unnaturally big fur animals is again on the rise. Heidi Kivekäs, Animalia’s Acting Executive Director, says:

“For many years, the fur industry has been assuring super foxes are no longer being bred. The images released by Oikeutta eläimille show the situation is much worse than in the 1980s. In order to get bigger skins, the foxes are becoming increasingly bigger. They are a really sad example of how little the fur industry cares about the welfare of fur animals.”

Already in 1989, it was established that the rate at which the foxes were growing in size caused painful limb deformities and other health problems. These health problems have not come to an end but are even worse. According to a 2014 report published by Maatalouden tutkimuskeskus, the Finnish Agricultural Research Center, up to 86 per cent of farmed foxes were suffering from bent feet, and over 20 per cent of the animals were significantly obese.

 

fox overweightAccording to a 2016 report by the Finnish Natural Resources Institute, the size of the blue fox has increased considerably in recent years, which has also affected their foot health. Blue fox obesity and feet deformities make it difficult for them to move. Laura Uotila, Animalia’s Animal Protection Expert, says:

“It’s quite common these days for caged blue fox males to weigh over 20 kilogrammes, while in nature, the arctic fox usually weighs from 3 to 4 kilogrammes. In addition, the loose and folded skin and bent feet cause considerable welfare problems for these animals. The Finnish Animal Welfare Law already makes it possible to prohibit selective animal breeding if it causes animal suffering. In practice, however, the law is not respected.”

Finland is in the process of reforming its current Animal Welfare Law which is over 20 years old. Animal rights organisations are demanding significant improvements to be written into the new law. Laura Uotila:

”The new Animal Welfare Law needs to be stricter and it needs to mandate authorities to prohibit and intervene in selective breeding that causeshealth problems for animals. This is especially important as the fur industry itself is not doing anything about this.”

Czech fur farming ban signed by President Zeman

5 AUGUST 2017, PRAGUE – On August 1, the President of the Czech Republic, Miloš Zeman, signed the amendment of the animal protection law that will make an end to fur farming. The ban on fur farming has now been adopted definitely, and will become effective on the first day of the second calendar month following its publication.

Wild foxes

The amendment bans fur farming in the Czech Republic as of the 31st of January 2019 and will provide compensation to farmers to support their long-term obligations. Despite the heavy debate in both the Chamber of Deputies and in the Senate, the amendment was adopted nearly unanimously – 132 votes in favor and 9 against in the Chamber of Deputies in June and 39 votes in favor and 3 against by the Senate in July. In both cases, amendment proposals were rejected that suggested the adoption of WelFur certificates, an extension of the transition period or increasing the compensations provided to farmers.

Ms. Lucie Hemrová of Svoboda zvířat (Freedom for Animals):

“We would like to thank the Czech legislator for having lent an ear to the voice of the public, who sees killing of animals for purposes of fashion as an unethical relic of the past. This is a true milestone in the history of protection of animals, a victory of compassion towards other living creatures, who feel pain and who suffer. We are thrilled with the news!”

Nine farms in the Czech Republic, keeping approximately 20 000 mink and foxes in total, will be affected by the ban. Animals on fur farms are kept in poor conditions and killed cruelly by electrocution or suffocation by exhaust gas. Moreover, the adoption of the amendment banning fur farming is in line with public opinion – according to an opinion poll carried out in the spring this year by the Focus agency, 83 % of Czechs are in favour of the ban of fur farming.

International organisations urge Czech Senate to end fur farming

16 JULY 2017, PRAGUE – This week 40 animal protection organisations worldwide co-signed a letter to call upon the Czech Senate to end fur farming.

The letter was handed over by Fur Free Alliance member organisation Svoboda Zvirat to Mr. Jaroslav Müllner, head of the secretariat of the President of the Senate, and urges the senators to do the right thing for animal welfare and implement a ban fur farming ban at their earliest opportunity:

“Legislation to prohibit fur farming is becoming increasingly widespread in Europe. The inherent cruelty of fur farming and the ethical concerns of a vast majority of the population have led many countries to close down fur farms in recent years. We are very pleased that the Czech Republic is at the forefront of that movement in Europe, as it considers prohibiting the cruel practice of fur farming.“

The letter will be distributed to all members of the Senate. Read the full letter here.

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The ban on fur farming in the Czech Republic is widely supported by the Czech population. A recent opinion poll showed that 83% of the Czech population is in favor of the ban and 85% does not buy fur products. Furthermore, nearly 46 000 Czech citizens signed a recent petition – and an extra 20 000 signed an electronic appeal – to express their support for a fur farming ban in the Czech Republic.