A Good Month for Anti-Fur Campaigners Around the World

Mink in a cage

Mink in a fur farm @Nettverk for dyrs frihet (Network for Animal Freedom) via flickr

In the last few weeks, there have been very significant advances in the campaign to ban fur globally. On June 2nd, 2021, Estonia passed a law to ban fur farming by 2026, becoming the latest European country that is phasing out this horrific industry. And on  June 9th, 2021, Israel became the first nation to ban the trade of fur in the fashion industry – which is huge!

In the US, the town of Wellesley, Massachusetts, banned new fur sales, being the first U.S. locality outside of California to do so. Some say the town of Weston, also in Massachusetts, will follow suit soon. And luxury fashion brand Valentino has just joined a long list of designers who have decided to ditch fur.  These are just the latest developments of an international campaign which, after decades, has already achieved a lot in attempting to ban fur. Over twenty countries have either voted to ban the practice, or to prohibit the farming of particular species for fur, or have introduced stricter regulations that have curtailed the fur industry.

Banning Fur Farming in the 21st Century

Map of Europe with different types of national fur bans

Map with countries with different degrees of fur banning. @Fur Free Alliance

The Fur Free Alliance has done an excellent job in collecting information on fur bans. Banning the farming of animals for fur started in 2000 in England and Wales, followed by Scotland in 2002, and Austria in 2005. Slovenia was next (2013), then the Republic of Macedonia (2014), Japan (2016), Croatia and Luxembourg (2018), Serbia and the Czech Republic (2019), and Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2020. Several countries have passed laws to phase out fur farming by a particular future date. For instance, Germany,  Switzerland, Belgium, The Netherlands, Norway and Slovakia.

Some other countries only banned fur farming for particular animals. For example, foxes in Denmark since 2009 (it has also undertaken a mass massacre of many millions of mink due to Covid-19). In 2014, Sweden banned Fox and Chinchilla farming for fur. In 2016, Spain effectively banned mink farming with a change in its regulations. Hungary banned the breeding of mink, foxes, polecats and coypu for fur in 2020. France will phase out mink farming by 2025.

That’s not all. We are going to see more fur farming bans soon. Several countries are considering legislation. At least Bulgaria, Lithuania, Montenegro, Ireland, Poland (a leading fur producer) and Ukraine.  Unfortunately, so far, there’s no indication that China (the largest trader and one of the top consumers) will follow suit, but there is a campaign there to change that too.

In the video below, #JaneUnChained #News reports LIVE from Beverly Hills on June 13th, 2021, as cops arrive at Neiman Marcus during a loud protest by The Coalition to Abolish the Fur Trade. Neiman Marcus is one of the last holdout American department stores which continues to sell fur as a “luxury” item. Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s and Nordstrom have all stopped. We invite Neiman Marcus on at any time to respond to protesters.

One by one, more countries realize that the fur industry is dying and it is not worth reviving it. 

Banning Fur Sales Started in The U.S.

Aerial view of West Hollywood

Sunset Tower, 8358 Sunset Blvd. West Hollywood, the first US city to ban fur sales @MikeJiroch

The U.S. is a major exporter of fur skins. Although there is no legislation to ban fur production or trade at the federal level yet, in 2019 California became the first state in the US to ban fur sales (with some exemptions). The statewide legislation prohibits the sales and production of new fur items starting in 2023.  A year earlier, the City Councils of both Los Angeles and San Francisco voted to ban the selling of fur, coming into effect in 2021. A year before that, the city of Berkeley, California, did it too.

These were not the first, though: West Hollywood banned the sales of fur as early as 2011. In particular, it prohibited the selling, trading, distributing, importing or exporting of any fur articles for clothing. This included items intended to cover any part of the body (shoes, boots, hats, and gloves). It’s going beyond California now. We already have Massachusetts’ towns following suit. Could the city of Portland, and even the entire state of Oregon, be next? We shall see. There is a significant anti-fur movement in Portland.

São Paulo, the largest city in Brazil, passed a historic law in 2015 banning the importation and sale of all fur items. In 2017, India banned the import of mink, fox and chinchilla fur skins. The following year, it joined the U.S., Belarus, Kazakhstan, Mexico, Russia, Switzerland, Taiwan, and the (then) 28 countries of the European Union, and banned the import of seal fur. Unfortunately, Canada continues its annual commercial seal hunt to trade the skins of slaughtered harp seal pups clubbed to dead in Newfoundland’s bloody coast.

Ongoing anti-fur campaigns have convinced lead fashion designers to ditch fur voluntarily. The fashion icon Valentino has now agreed to phase out fur, joining more than 40 companies and brands that have done the same.

First National Almost Total Fur Trade Ban

Face of a woman

Gila Gamliel, Israeli Environmental Protection Minister

Until this month no nation had banned the sales of all fur for the fashion industry. However, this week the Israeli Environmental Protection Minister Gila Gamliel announce that Israel will completely ban the sale of fur for fashion purposes. From 2022 on, it will only allow trade for religious purposes (such as shtreimels, hats worn by Orthodox men) and scientific research. She said: “The fur industry causes the deaths of hundreds of millions of animals worldwide, and inflicts indescribable cruelty and suffering. Using the skin and fur of wildlife for the fashion industry is immoral and is certainly unnecessary. Animal fur coats cannot cover the brutal murder industry that makes them. Signing these regulations will make the Israeli fashion market more environmentally friendly and far kinder to animals”

The UK, the first country that banned fur farming, is now considering banning fur imports too. In 2019, London’s borough of Islington banned the sale of fur in its markets, as the town of Oldham in Manchester had already done. But now the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs launched a consultation on the impact of a national ban. Depending on the outcome, the UK could introduce an outright ban on the import of fur. A 2020 YouGov poll showed that 93% of British people don’t wear real animal fur and do support a #FurFreeBritain, so hopefully, the government will listen.

Banning fur trading is the most significant way to deplete the fur industry.  Otherwise, it will always find new suppliers elsewhere or new animals to skin.

Banning Fur Wearing, the Next Frontier

No-Fur sign

No-Fur sign from Portland, Oregon. @Tony Webster via flickr

Banning the possession and wearing of fur items is the next milestone. As far as I am aware, no jurisdiction has done so yet. However, any person, household, institution, or community that follows the philosophy of ethical veganism, would have enacted a moral ban with the same effect. If it seems fanciful to imagine a world where wearing fur is illegal,  remember that West Hollywood courageously started a trend that was eventually followed by the entire state of California. I am wondering which other progressive trailblazing municipality may start the new fur-wearing ban trend. Any takers?

The killing of animals for fur is just a drop in the ocean of animal suffering at the hands of humankind. But it’s a particularly bloody drop. Let’s build a world where we reject fur at all levels, everywhere. Not only the farming of mink or foxes; or the import or the sale of new items. Not just in markets or for the fashion industry; or in municipalities or States.

We must ban fur everywhere, for any purpose. Fur from foxes, chinchillas, raccoon dogs, mink, coyotes, polecats, coypus, dogs, bears, cats, rabbits, lynxes, seals, or any other mammal.  We need a real, total, global ban.

 

Wild red fox in grass looking at camera

Free wild red fox in a park in London @Jordi Casamitjana