Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Fur Farms and Trapping

In many cases, individuals who wear fur try to justify their actions by claiming their coat was made from animals killed on a ranch, as opposed to animals that suffered for days in a steel jaw leghold trap (leghold trap). There is a misconception that ranch raised fur is "humane". Unfortunately, there is nothing humane about depriving these animals from their behavioral and physiological needs. Fur farming is nothing more than institutionalized torture.      

So why is fur farming so wrong? It is important to know which species are raised and killed on fur farms. Of the 31 million animals killed on fur ranches each year, about twenty-six million are mink and 4.5 million are fox. In addition, 250,000 chinchillas, 150,000 sable, 100,000 fitch, 100,000 raccoon dogs (a separate species from the American raccoon), and a small number of lynx, bobcat, and nutria are fur farmed.
The mink is a semi-aquatic predator native to North America. Mink are very solitary creatures who spend a substantial portion of their day swimming in the water. Mink are very inquisitive, and have a range of 2- ½ miles. This is an active species and does not adapt well to life in a cage.
The mink raised on fur farms are genetically wild. Up until the 1930's, fur farmers were still adding wild mink into their breeding programs. Domestication takes thousands of years, and the constant influx of wild genes kept the process from truly getting underway for quite some time.

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      On fur farms, mink are deprived that adequate space needed because they are kept in cages averaging 10" wide by 24" long. Sometimes the cages are a couple of inches wider, or a couple of inches shorter. Either way, this is not adequate space for any animal, much less one such as the mink. This sort of intensive confinement has severe psychological implications. Ranch mink engage in neurotic behavior. Many will move back and forth in the same repetitive motion for extended periods of time. This is called a stereotype pattern.
Because mink are kept in such cramped conditions causing an increase in stress, many ranch mink develop stomach ulcers and enlarged adrenal glands. This is a sign of chronic stress. The fur industry conducted their own tests in hopes to prove that ranch mink are not stressed. In their studies, young mink are used before they can develop stomach ulcers. The results of these inaccurate tests are used to "prove" that intensive confinement does not affect the mink. It is understood how the public is misinformed about the truth on fur farms with the release of such deceptive tests.

Life for ranch-raised fox is not any more promising. Fox farms have very serious problem with cannibalism. Fox in cramped living conditions often resort to cannibalism as a result of a stressed induced environment. It is estimated that fox farmers will lose 20 % of their animals prematurely. Half of those deaths result from cannibalism.

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Tail biting is a form of self-mutilation that is common in captive mink populations. Self-mutilation is a hardship for fur farmers because it devalues the animal's fur pelt. Mink are killed after their winter coat reaches prime to cover many of the flaws in the fur. This is recognized as an unfortunate cost of conducting business. Large pens would reduce the amount of self-mutilation, but the additional space would increase overhead costs. It is more cost-effective for the industry to cram more animals into a smaller space, and deal with the occasional stress related death or self-mutilation

      Fox farming is now banned in Holland and all of the fox farms must close by 2004. As of January 1st, 2000 fox farming will be illegal in Sweden. Austria does not have any fox farms as a result of animal friendly legislation, and the United Kingdom banned fur farming in December 2000 as well. This clearly indicates that there is a very serious concern for the welfare of animals in intensive confinement. Death for these animals is a horror story. The most common method used for killing foxes is anal electrocution.

Mink are usually gassed or violently injected with poison. Many just have their necks broken or are asphixiated. An undercover investigation found that some minks are killed with weed killers, which can cause the animals to convulse for up to 10 minutes before death.      

Fur-farming methods are designed to maximize profits at the expense of the animal's health and comfort. For example, foxes are kept in cages up to two feet square with up to four animals per cage. Likewise, minks suffer from close confinement, often developing self-mutilating behaviors. The animals in these concentration camp conditions also exhibit distressed neurotic behaviors such as pacing back and forth in their cages.
Animals live in filth on fur farms and are often victims of disease and pests. For example, fur farm animals are fed meat by-products which are often so grisly that they are unfit even for the pet food industry: calves heads, beef lungs and windpipes, unborn calves, chicken and turkey heads, beef and chicken entrails, cow udders, and fish heads. Bacterial contamination from such a diet threatens the health of the animals--particularly that of newly weaned pups. Contagious diseases--such as viral enteritis and pneumonia--as well as bladder and urinary tract infections are also prevalent on fur farms. Fleas, ticks, lice, and other insects are attracted by the piles of excrement under cages. These piles are often left for months, long enough for insects to infest the animals.


Each year approximately 10 million animals are trapped in the wild, so that they can be skinned for fur coats. The primary tools used by fur trappers are the following: leghold trap, the body grip (Conibear) trap, and the wire snare.
Despite that 74 percent of Americans oppose the use of the leghold trap, Congress has not banned its use. If more people were exposed to these traps, that number would sky rocket. Trapping is indefensible, and should be banned today.
Fur trapping is a barbaric activity, done to supply people with an object of vanity, a fur coat. Clearly this animal suffering cannot be justified with such a frivolous end product. The suffering is multiplied when one considers the fact that an average of 40 animals must be killed to make one fur coat.
In fact, the leghold trap has been banned in eighty-eight countries, but only 8 states in the U.S. have passed legislation to prohibit leghold traps. This is despite volumes of documentation proving that leghold traps mutilate wild animals, are non-selective in what they catch, and are a danger to companion animals and children.

The leghold trap is composed of two metal jaws, powered by high strength springs, which slam shut on an animals paw when triggered. The initial impact of the steel jaws causes injury, but the majority of damage is caused as the animal struggles to break free.
Within the first 30 minutes of capture, a trapped animal can tear her flesh, rip tendons, break bones, and even knock out teeth as she bites the trap to escape.