Fur bans

Over the past two decades, more than twenty countries have either voted to ban the practice, have prohibited the farming of particular species, or have introduced stricter regulations that have effectively curtailed the practice. As concerns about animal welfare and the ethics of fur continue to grow, proposals to prohibit fur production are presently being considered in many other countries.

Production bans

The first countries to ban fur farming were the United Kingdom (2000) and Austria (2005). In December 2012, the Netherlands, once the EU’s second-largest mink producer, passed a ban on fur farming that would phase out mink fur production entirely by 2024. Following coronavirus outbreaks on Dutch mink fur farms, the government declared an early shutdown of the industry in 2020.

In Croatia, fur farming is banned since 2018 after a 10-year phase-out period for farms to transition to a more sustainable industry. Slovenia banned fur farming in March 2013 with a three-year phase-out for existing farms.

Other countries that introduced laws to prohibit or phase out fur farming are the Republic of Macedonia (2014), Serbia (2019) and Bosnia and Herzegovina (2028). Due to the economic decline of the fur industry, the last Bosnian fur farm shut down in 2020.

Recent

In September 2022, Latvia became the most recent country to introduce a ban on fur farming, with a phase-out period until 2028. One month earlier, Malta introduced a new law amendment that prohibits fur farming with immediate effect.

In March 2022, Ireland announced a ban on fur farming. The three remaining Irish mink fur farms are expected to close this year.

In December 2021, Italy announced a prohibition on fur farming effective from 2022. One month earlier, the French government decided to ban fur farming of non-domestic species in France, with immediate effect. Earlier that year, Estonia also introduced a ban on fur farming, which will end the practice in 2026.

In October 2019, Slovakia introduced a law to prohibit fur farming after a transitional period for existing farms until 2025.

In January 2018, Norway, once the world’s largest producer of fox pelts, decided to prohibit fur farming, with a phase-out period until 2025. 2018 also saw two other countries take action: in Belgium, a fur farming ban was introduced which will end the practice in 2023, and in Luxembourg, a ban on fur farming came into effect in October of the same year.

In August 2017, the Czech Republic agreed a ban on fur farming, effective from 2019.

Proposed legislation to prohibit fur farming is currently being considered in Lithuania, Montenegro, Poland, Spain, Ukraine and Romania.

STRICTER WELFARE REGULATIONS

Germany introduced new animal welfare legislation in 2017, with a 5-year transition period, that required stricter keeping standards (such as increased cages sizes and additional swimming basins for mink). The new regulations meant that fur farming was no longer deemed profitable and this led to the closure of the last remaining mink farms in 2019, before the new measures came into force. 

The introduction of stricter animal welfare requirements in Sweden led to the closure of fox fur farms in 2005 and chinchilla fur farms in 2014. The new measures addressed some natural needs of the two species, to enable chinchillas to jump, and foxes to dig and socialize. The new requirements rendered fox and chinchilla farming economically unviable in Sweden.

Switzerland introduced legislation in 2008 that allowed animals to be kept captive only in conditions that are equivalent to modern zoos. Fur farming under such rules was deemed to be unprofitable and no longer takes place in the country.

Partial bans

*Hungary introduced an immediate ban on the breeding of mink, foxes, polecats, and coypu for fur, in November 2020, following concerns on animal welfare and coronavirus outbreaks on mink fur farms across Europe. The ban was introduced as a precautionary measure to prevent fur farmers from moving their operations there.

To prevent ecological damage caused by escaped mink as an invasive alien species, Bulgaria introduced a ban on the breeding and import of American mink in 2022, which was suspended shortly after due to an appeal. Spain adopted stricter regulations on similar grounds in 2016 which prohibit the building of new mink fur farms.

In 2006, the Japanese Invasive Alien Species Act made it illegal to build new mink fur farms in the country. This led to the phasing-out of fur farming in Japan in 2016 following the closure of the last mink fur farm due to non-compliance.

In 2013 New Zealand introduced a law to prohibit the import of mink, which effectively bans mink farming in the country.

Denmark introduced a ban on fox farming in 2009. In addition, Denmark prohibited the building of new raccoon dog farms in 2011, which led to an effective ban since there are no raccoon dog farms in Denmark.

Before The Netherlands adopted a ban on mink fur farming in 2012, fox and chinchilla fur production was already out-phased in the mid-1990s.

FUR SALES BANS

By phasing out new fur sales, cities, states, and countries are hoping to decrease the demand for cruel products, reduce public health risks, promote community awareness of animal welfare, and foster a more humane environment.

In 2021, Israel became the world’s first country to prohibit the sale of fur.

In the U.S., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Berkeley, and West Hollywood banned new fur sales, paving the way for California to become the first state in 2019. Cities in Massachusetts, Michigan, and Florida have since passed similar legislation.

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