PRAGUE, 25 OCTOBER 2016 – Last Thursday an international seminar took place in the Chamber of Debuties in Prague to discuss legislation concerning fur farming bans. The seminar, which was organized by animal protection organization Svoboda Zvirat and supported by the Fur Free Alliance, gathered experts on the political and legislative process, and the scientific grounds, of banning fur farming in support of a new bill in Czech Republic. The event was held under the patronage Robin Böhnisch, member of parliament and Chairman of the Committee on the Environment, who proposed the bill.
There are currently 9 fur farms in Czech Republic where minks and/or fox are bred. In spring of this year, a group of 50 deputies, led by Chairman of the Committee on the Environment Robin Böhnisch, submitted a draft law that would completely ban these farms:
‘Breeding and killing animals primarily for fur is no longer acceptable in the 21st century. Species like mink and fox can not be successfully domesticated. Therefore I welcome the powerful coalition across the political spectrum that the Chamber of Deputies has formed to support this proposal.’
Among the speakers was globally recognized expert on the ethology of foxes Professor Stephen Harris and Maria Eagle, former UK Minister, who introduced the private members bill to ban fur farming in the UK:
‘Breeding animals for fur is cruel. Civilised society should not tolerate this unnecessary suffering, and I believe politicians will pay due attention to the topic and that the Czech Republic will join the other European countries and have banned these antiquated practices.’
View the presentation ‘Case against Fur Factory Farming’ by Professor Stephen Harris.
Other speakers at the seminar included Dr. Holger Herbrüggen – veterinary inspector in Austria, where fur farming was banned in 2005 – and Inez Staarink, Policy Advisor on Agriculture, Nature, Animals and Food in The Netherlands, who was involved with the parliamentary process of passing the mink farming ban into Dutch law:
‘Vanity as a goal does not justify the suffering and killing of animals.’
Read the presentation ‘Why fur farming is being banned in the Member States’ of Inez Staarink,
According to opinion polls the majority of the Czech and the European public considers killing animals for fur unacceptable. A fur farming ban in Czech Republic would therefore be in line with public interest, according to Lucie Moravcová from Svoboda zvířat, the hosting organization of the seminar:
‘The aim of this seminar is to provide the Czech legislator, the State Veterinary Administration and professional public with the information and experience regarding the approval and implementation of laws banning fur farms in countries where similar legislation already exists.’
The first reading of the bill will take place on the 8th of November. Fur farming is already banned in 8 European countries and 5 more countries are currently having parliamentary debates about fur farming bans.
ESTONIA, 6 OCTOBER 2016 – For the first time in Estonia, local fashion designers stand up to support a ban on fur farms in a campaign run by the animal advocacy organization Loomus. This project is a part of the long-term campaign “I am on the side of animals!”, which supports the ambition to submit a bill to the parliament that would ban fur farming in Estonia.
The campaign includes fashion designers Reet Aus, Margaret Kodusaar, Kalle Aasamäe, Kätlin Kikkas, Perit Muuga, Marilin Sikkal, Tiiu Roosma and Kadri Vahe. The author of the photos is Juta Kübarsepp, designs are made by Tõnis Aaliste.
All the fashion designers, who stood up in the campaign, also joined the international Fur Free Retailer program, in which the participating designers, fashion houses, clothing chains and stores do not produce or sell products made of real fur.
By establishing fur free principles, the Estonian fashion designers join famous high-end brands and store chains such as Armani, Hugo Boss, Tommy Hilfiger, Calvin Klein, Stella McCartney, H&M, Esprit, Lindex, Etnies, O’Neill and others. Altogether about 300 companies across the world have joined the program.
In 2014, a national petition to ban fur farms in Estonia gathered more than 10,000 signatures from the citizens of Estonia. At the end of 2014, Loomus took the signatures and the corresponding memorandum to Riigikogu, the parliament of Estonia. After numerous public discussions and analyses, the Rural Affairs Committee that was supposed to decide the fate of fur farms in September this year, has decided to postpone the decision and ask for an opinion from the government of Estonia.
An international petition to ban fur farms in Estonia has already gathered more than 28,000 signatures.
Today, fur farming is banned in the United Kingdom, Austria, Croatia, the Netherlands, Slovenia, Macedonia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. Fur farming is partially banned in Denmark, Belgium, Sweden and New Zealand. According to a survey conducted by TNS Emor, 58% of the Estonian population do not support fur farming.
TALLIN, 3 DECEMBER – Last week the Norwegian Award-winning documentary Inside Fur (Pels) was screened at Tallinn’s Cinema House. The documentary, which gives an alarming inside view on the atrocities of the Nordic fur industry, was internationally released in April 2015 and is currently circulating the global film festival circuit. The film screening, which was organised by Fur Free Alliance member Loomus, was introduced by Norwegian director Ola Waagen to a full house of over 100 visitors. On the 12th of January 2016 another screening of the film will take place in Tartu, the second largest city in Estonia, and in May next year the film will be aired on Estonian public television.
The documentary follows psychologist Frank Nervik while he exposes the grim truth about the Nordic fur industry. Posing as a new fur farmer, his hidden camera captures riveting footage of his training and day-to-day work, culminating in him being forced to experience the process all the way to the painful end. Learn more on the website of the documentary and follow Inside Fur on Facebook to stay updated. The trailer of Inside Fur an be viewed here.
Photography: Liina Lelov
STRASBOURG, 26 NOVEMBER 2015 – Yesterday, the Intergroup on Welfare and Conservation of Animals met to discuss fur farming in the EU. The meeting included the launch of the new report “The Case Against Fur Factory Farming – A Scientific Review of Animal Welfare Standards and ‘WelFur’”, produced by British Fur Free Alliance member Respect for Animals. The comprehensive and detailed scientific report concludes that fur bans are the only solution to the serious animal welfare problems in the fur industry.
The meeting was opened by MEP Janusz Wojciechowski, President of the Intergroup on Welfare and Conservation of Animals who welcomed everyone to the launch of the new report. Mark Glover, Campaigns Director from the UK based NGO Respect for Animals, continued:
“The 2001 report from the Scientific Committee on Animal Health and Welfare concluded that the housing systems cause serious animal welfare problems for the animals kept on fur farms. Nothing has changed in today’s fur farms. With the WelFur protocols, the fur industry is trying to muddy the waters. Our new report examines all of the recent research and its conclusion is stark: the case for banning fur farming is overwhelming.”
Professor Stephen Harris who is the co-author of the report “The Case Against Fur Factory Farming – A Scientific Review of Animal Welfare Standards and ‘WelFur’”:
“The needs of undomesticated animals cannot be met in any farming system. The WelFur protocols have been designed around the very serious limitations of current housing systems. The WelFur best current practice still represents what most people would consider to be an unacceptable level of welfare.”
Inez Staarink, Policy Advisor on Agriculture, Nature, Animals and Food – Dutch Parliament, spoke about the process of banning fur farming in the Netherlands, a country that was the third biggest mink fur producing country in Europe. She recommended the MEPs to support bans in the Member States, to prohibit the expansion of fur farms and to get correct labelling of fur products.
“The Netherlands will no longer export fur, but instead we will export bans on fur farming.”
Read the full report here.
The European fur industry, and especially the Nordic fur industry, markets itself as a responsible business concerned about ethics. A new report reveals that fur farms producing Saga fur, the main Nordic fur auction house and brand, share the considerable animal welfare problems inherent in fur production, that have led to bans on ethical and welfare grounds in several countries.
The report Animal welfare and the European fur trade will be launched on 15 October in the European Parliament in room ASP 04F384. The event is organised by the Fur Free Alliance and Eurogroup for Animals and will be hosted by Finnish Member of Parliament Heidi Hautala.
Read the report here.
In both official inspections and investigations done by animal interest groups and the media serious welfare problems have come to light on fur farms in Saga countries. These farms with welfare problems have included certified farms and farms belonging to key figures in the Finnish and Norwegian fur industries. Saga Furs has played a significant role in the worldwide increase in fur farming and fur consumption and has particularly been very active in countries such as China that have limited animal welfare legislation. Saga’s work can be regarded as a marketing campaign combating increasing ethical awareness and stimulating the demand for fur globally.
The program for the event:
Opening remarks by MEP Janusz Wojciechowski (ECR), Poland, President of the European Parliament’s Intergroup on the Welfare and Conservation of Animals
Welcome remarks by Reineke Hameleers, Director Eurogroup for Animals and Joh Vinding, Chair Fur Free Alliance
Presentation of the report by the co-authors Salla Tuomivaara, Director Animalia, and Siri Martinsen, veterinarian, Director NOAH
Comments by MEP Sirpa Pietikäinen (EPP), Finland
Comments by MEP Jeppe Kofod (S&D), Denmark
Documentation from fur farms, Jo-Anne McArthur, photographer
Concluding remarks Reineke Hameleers, Director Eurogroup for Animals, and Joh Vinding, Chair Fur Free Alliance
POLAND, 21 AUGUST 2015 – Last week, inspectors from the Polish Fur Free Alliance member organisation Otwarte Klatki intervened at a fox farm in Kiełczewo, Kościan commune in western Poland to rescue two fox cubs. Inspectors came across the wounded animals in the course of inspection carried out on the farm with the consent of the owner in the end of July.
The inspection revealed that one of the cubs lacked one rear paw, while the other only had two front paws. The animals had difficulties moving around the cage. Having carefully examined the material available, the representatives of the organisation decided to intervene and take the animals away in order to provide them with immediate medical attention.
Medical examination by a veterinary doctor confirmed that the female cub was missing both limbs. It additionally revealed an inflammatory condition of the stamp, bone tissue being excessively grown due to inappropriate healing of the wound, as well as purulent fistula, mycosis and mite infestation. The male was diagnosed, inter alia, with a cough, a fever of over 40 degrees and heart murmur. The foxes, which up until now had not been treated, are under vet’s observation. Both animals, who are not yet 3 months old, might require amputation. Barbara Karbowiak, inspector of Stowarzyszenie Otwarte Klatki:
“We could not have decided otherwise than to immediately take the cubs away. We did the right thing. To leave the cubs on the farm MIGHT have brought a tragic end to their lives, therefore it was never considered as an option. Both animals have inflammatory conditions of their bones which, if left untreated, might have resulted in further infections and enormous suffering. They are both only 2.5 months old and yet they already experienced so much injustice. They did not choose this life for themselves”
According to the owner, the cubs lost their paws because of their mother. However, the farmer failed to provide the animals with treatment and to improve their living conditions.
Acting in accordance with the Animal Protection Act, the inspectors reported the foxes having been taken away to the administrator of Kościan commune. Now, it is for him to decide upon the fate of the rescued animals. The foxes were taken with no knowledge, consent or presence of the owner. According to the Animal Protection Law it is permissible action if the life or health of animal is in danger. Paweł Rawicki, the Vice-president of Otwarte Klatki:
“The condition of the foxes illustrates the farmers’ attitude towards animals. As long as fur can somehow be obtained, their health is of no significance.”
Representatives of Otwarte Klatki claim that animal health issues are a commonplace occurrence on fur farms. They believe that legal provisions as applicable today fail to ensure suitable conditions for animals to live in, as guaranteeing animal welfare is impossible to be reconciled with profitability of fur farming business. The organisation calls for a ban on fur farming to be introduced in Poland. To support their postulates, the organisation refers to films recorded on farms as well as reports published in 2012–2013, entitled THE PRICE OF FUR and PREDATORY BUSINESS.