13 FEBRUARY 2017 – Last month Lithuanian citizens took the streets to protest the extreme animal cruelty in the fur industry. Around 1000 participants gathered on the Gediminas Avenue in Vilnius to raise public awareness on the ethical problems associated with fur industry. The march was an initiative Fur Free Alliance member Open Cages (Tusti Narvai).
The march was meant to support the action of the member of Lithuanian Green Party, Linas Balsys, who recently registered an amendment of the Animal Welfare and Protection Law which would essentially ban rearing and killing animals for fur if it was introduced. The amendment in question will likely be voted on during the Parliament spring session.
The march for animals attracted people to join from all over Lithuania, as well as international participants from Germany, UK, Denmark and Latvia. Supporters of both the Green party and the Liberals could be seen holding protest signs. And several Lithuanian celebrities joined in.Gabija Enciute, one of the founders of Open Cages in Lithuania, commented after the rally near the Parliament:
“We are happy that so many people came. There must be some kind of political and social maturing going on. More people than ever seem outraged enough with the failing of the law to go out into the streets. Seeking to defend the weak – in this case, the animals – is a true sign of a mature society. We are trying to change the legislation, and we’re hopeful that Lithuania too will join the growing group of European countries that have banned the intrinsically unethical practice of fur farming”
Currently there are about 200 fur farms operating in Lithuania that altogether cause about 2 million animal deaths every year. The rally was organised in order to encourage the Lithuanian MPs to vote for the amendment in animal welfare legislation and draw their attention to the environmental and animal welfare problems in the fur industry. A 2016 representative poll shows that two thirds of the Lithuanian citizens don not support fur farming.
27 JUNE 2016, BELGIUM – Last February, Belgian animal protection organisation GAIA together with sister organisations Animal Rights, Bite Back, Stop Dierenmishandeling and Animaux en Péril protested to demand the closure of the local fur farm in Langemark. Undercover footage from Animal Rights revealed neglected, injured and shrieking, agonized mink in deplorable conditions in the former brick-yard at Langemark.
At the end of 2012, the owner of the mink farm was granted an environmental permit to expand the farm by the then current minister, Joke Schauvliege (CD&V), notwithstanding a formal appeal submitted by GAIA together with local citizens, and notwithstanding a refusal by the Belgian Conseil d’Etat.
A survey conducted by research bureau IPSOS in 2015, clearly shows that 85% of the Flemish population are in favour of a definite ban on fur farms.
“One mink farm less”, states Michel Vandenbosch, President of GAIA. GAIA, as did the CD&V at an earlier stage, indicates that there is scarce public support of the slaughter of mink for fur.
GAIA will continue to fight for a total ban on fur farming in Flanders. Although the owner of the mink farm in Langemark has decided to cease his activities, 16 fur farms still remain in operation in Flanders today.
SARAJEVO, 19 JUNE 2016 – Worldwide citizens are expressing their support for the fur farming ban in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Similar to several other EU members states, the government of Bosnia and Herzegovina decided to ban fur farming on ethical grounds in 2009. The fur farming ban includes a phase-out period of 10 years providing fur farmers with a transitional period to develop a more ethical and sustainable type of business. Currently, however, the law is put at risk due to a proposed amendment that would put the ban completely off the table.
Citizens, nationally and internationally, are organising protests and a petition to urge the government to take a strong stance and keep the widely supported fur farming ban in place. This week the parliament of Bosnia and Herzegovina rejected the change of the Act in the second vote on the proposed law amendment. A third voting is yet to take place.
Currently Bosnia and Herzegovina holds about 80 fur farms, on which chinchillas, mink and rabbits are farmed solely for their fur. Animals kept on fur farms are essentially wild animals. Keeping them in small, wire mesh cages causes numerous serious welfare problems which have been extensively documented by scientific research studies. Fur farmers use the cheapest and cruelest killing methods available, including suffocation, electrocution and gassing. More concerning is that the conditions on fur farms in Bosnia and Herzegovina are hardly monitored since there is no policy regarding official inspections.
Even though fur farming is profitable, mainly due to the low animal welfare standards, the industry hardly creates employment opportunities. On an average a fur farm in Bosnia and Herzegovina employs two workers, making the number of jobs a highly insignificant argument to drop the ban. Besides that the use of hazardous chemicals in the fur production process are causing serious health risks for both employees as consumers, as various recent studies have pointed out.
Due to ethical, animal welfare and environmental reasons fur bans are currently debated upon worldwide. It would be wise for the government of Bosnia and Herzegovina to not further invest in such an unstable industry as fur farming, but better yet explore more sustainable types of industries that are profitable on the long-term.
ZAGREB, 25 FEBRUARY 2015 – Last week Croatian citizens gathered on the central square of the capital city Zagreb to make a public statement against chinchilla fur farming. In 2007 the Croatian government decided to ban fur farming with a phase-out period of 10 years. Recent lobby efforts of chinchilla breeders have focused on an exemption of the ban for chinchilla farming, which, paradoxically is the only remaining type of fur farming in Croatia. The event in Zagreb, organised by Croatian Fur Free Alliance member Animal Friends Croatia, made it clear that the vast majority of Croatian citizens does not think fur farming is acceptable. A recent poll showed that 3 out of 4 Croatian citizens are in support of a fur ban.
The Croatian Animal Protection Act, that was implemented on the first of January 2007, recognised the fur industry as an extremely cruel practice and banned breeding animals for their fur, with a 10-year phase-out period. Croatians hoped that, after almost a decade into the transitional period, the extreme animal suffering on fur farms would have come to an end. Breeders of the South American rodent have had more than enough time to transition to another, more ethical and humane form of business. The existing ban should be fully effective starting January 1, 2017.
Nine years into the phase-out period, disregarding the fact that the vast majority of chinchilla breeders have complied with the ban, the Association of Croatian breeders of chinchillas has started an initiative to overthrow it. Since chinchillas are the only animals kept on fur farms in Croatia the initiative can be regarded as a mockery of the Croatian law, government, MPs and more than 70% of citizens, who are in support of the ban.
The serious animal welfare problems that result from keeping wild animals in small cages are confirmed by numerous, extensive scientific research studies. Animal cruelty is inherent to fur production and animals on all fur farms have been found to exhibit severe health issues and stress-related symptoms as infected wounds, self-mutilation, infanticide, cannibalism and stereotypical behaviors. After a short miserable life in a small cage animals in the fur industry are killed by painful methods such as electrocution, gassing or neck breaking. Fur bans are the only legitimate solution to the serious animal welfare problems in the fur industry.
Fur farming is therefore banned in many countries, such as the United Kingdom, Northern Ireland, the Netherlands, Austria, Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia and Macedonia, and effectively banned in Germany and Switzerland due to stricter regulations. An increasing majority of the European population finds it unjustifiable to subject animals to prolonged suffering for trivial ends, such as fur coats or fashion accessories.
POLAND, 21 NOVEMBER – On Saturday, November 21st, Fur Free Alliance member Otwarte Katki organised Fur Free Day actions in 11 Polish cities. Signatures were collected during the actions in support of a draft law that bans the breeding of foxes and racoon dogs for fur in Poland. In 3 cities skinned foxes – the victims of the industry – were displayed.
The Fur-Free Day events took place in Katowice, Kraków, Wrocław, Warsaw, Poznań, Łódź, Częstochowa, Opole, Lublin, Gdańsk and Bydgoszcz. People could not only sign the petition, but also see the photographs depicting the living conditions of animals on Polish fur farms – the conditions that by no means can be called humane. The animals are killed in gas chambers or by anal electrocution, however many of them die prior to the slaughter due to serieus health issues caused by the poor conditions on farms. Crammed in small cages, they fight and kill each other or die due to various diseases. Paweł Rawicki, the vice chairman of Otwarte Klatki:
‘Our activists have documented what is happening in the Polish fur farms. We recorded shocking scenes of defenseless animals suffering. It’s hard to look at these, but we cannot turn our eyes away. We owe it to the animals that are being tormented by the hands of humans. Many people decided to sign the petition just after seeing such scenes and realising how much suffering is associated with fur farming.’
The petition proved very popular with passers-by. In Poland each year an increasing number of animals are killed for their fur, however the opposition of the industry is growing as well. According to a survey commissioned by Otwarte Klatki and carried out by the Homo Homini opinion polling institute, 66% of the Polish people are opposed to breeding foxes for fur. As many as 70% believe animal protection should be dealt with by the politicians. Detailed information on the fur industry in Poland can be found in the reports published by Otwarte Klatki – as Fur Price and A Predatory Business.
OSLO, 16 NOVEMBER 2015 – This weekend over 7000 Norwegians took the streets to call their government for a ban on fur farming. The anti-fur march took place in various cities across Norway, counting nearly 4000 participants in Oslo where the march was opened by mayor Marianne Borgen. Among the protesters were Norwegian authors Hanne Kristin Rohde, Tor Åge Bringsvært, Simon Stranger and Norwegian-Iranian musician and former Eurovision Songfestival participant Tooji.
The march, organized by Norway’s largest animal rights organization and Fur Free Alliance member NOAH – for animal rights, has been an annual event for twelve years and has become Europe’s largest anti-fur event. Marianne Borgen, mayor of Oslo, commented on the march:
“Oslo shall be a pioneer on animal welfare, respecting the intrinsic value of animals. This does not reconcile with keeping predators in cages.”
Martinsen and NOAH recently visited the EU-parliament together with colleagues from Finland to launch a report about the Nordic fur industry. The report “Nordic fur trade – marketed as responsible business” highlights that the claim of high ethical standards made by the Nordic fur trade are in stark contrast to the reality in fur farms and criticised by animal welfare experts. Martinsen:
“It is a paradox that Europe’s largest anti-fur event is held in Norway, where the politicians have been delaying a thorough debate about ending this industry for a much longer time than in many other European countries. Great Britain, Ireland, Switzerland, Austria, Croatia, Sweden, Denmark, The Netherlands, Germany and Italy are among the countries that have banned parts of or their entire fur industry.”