The Fur Trade
Throughout history, fur has been seen as a luxury item of clothing, conferring high status on its wearer. Opponents of the fur trade have engaged in direct action for many years, and have had a high level of publicity. This has meant that fur has become less fashionable since people’s awareness of animal welfare and conservation issues has been raised. Nevertheless, although the big cats such as leopard and jaguar are protected, there is still a demand for spotted cat skins for the fashion trade. In the USA for example thousands of wild lynx and bobcat are trapped for their fur each year.
Where do you stand… Be honest! If you could afford it, would you like to have an expensive, high status item of clothing with fur in it?
Fur farms are now largely outlawed in the UK. Originally imported from North America in the 1920s, the mink (Mustela vison) was bred for fur. Some mink escaped and others were released by animal rights activists and they soon spread rapidly throughout most areas of the UK. The mink is aggressive and powerful for its size. Adult males average 1.2 kg and about 600mm from the nose to the tip of the tail. Females are only half this weight and about 500mm in length. Mink are mainly nocturnal, usually live near water and prefer areas of thick bank-side vegetation. They can run, climb trees, burrow under ground and swim and usually prey on the vulnerable; fish at spawning time, birds at nesting time and fledglings, as well as poultry. Mink are primarily responsible for the decline of our native water vole. An adult breeding female will make up to 1,000 kills every year.
Should we try to eradicate the mink as a non-native species? If so, why should we not use their fur? If not, is it ethical to allow a species introduced by human activities to alter the balance of an ecosystem?
Animals at work