Impact on biodiversity

Historically, the fur trade has had a severe impact on biodiversity and is responsible for the depletion and even extinction of several furred species, including the sea mink.

Trapping poses a major threat to wildlife populations. The traps used to catch wild animals are notoriously indiscriminate and can result in non-target species, some of which may be classified as endangered or threatened, being caught, injured or killed. Trapping can therefore put additional pressure on populations of animals that are already fragile.

The American Veterinary Medical Association report that ‘non-target animals’ can account for up to 67% of the total catch.

American mink, raccoon dogs, muskrats and coypu are all non- native species that were originally introduced to Europe deliberately for the purposes of fur farming and have now established themselves in the wild. Such invasive alien species pose a significant threat to biodiversity and are recognised as such under the Convention on Biological Diversity. These four species have been placed on the list of 100 worst invasive alien species in Europe (DAISIE database). A Danish study estimated that 80% of free-roaming mink were fur farm escapees.

Escaped predatory mink and raccoon dogs from fur farms are an ecological disaster, causing damage to local ecosystems and biodiversity worldwide.

Feral American mink can have a severe impact on ground-nesting birds populations, rodents and amphibians. In the UK, predation by the American mink has been identified as the cause for the decline of the water vole, Britain’s most rapidly declining mammal. Through competition for food, the invasion of the American mink in Europe has led the European mink to become critically endangered.

There are substantial economic costs associated with the removal of these invasive alien species from the environment or the reduction of their impact. The cost of invasive alien species in the EU has been estimated at least as 12 billion Euros a year and damage costs are increasing.