By Priscilla Feral
I’m in it for the long haul. Since the mid-70’s I’ve seen animal advocacy efforts start, flounder some, but then flourish and reach desired conclusions. Such is the case with the global fur industry collapse and the steep decline in hunting across the nation.
However, despite less than 4% of Americans involved in killing wildlife for fun, the gun lobby is using the dying hunting industry to normalize semi-automatic weapons like the AR-15 rifle. And that’s a national disgrace.
After a gunman used an AR-15 to shoot and kill 21 people, including 19 children, at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas on May 24, Rep. Ken Buck from Colorado told the media outlet The Recount why ordinary Americans need to own an AR-15: “An AR-15 is a gun of choice for killing raccoons before they get to our chickens. It is a gun of choice for killing fox. It is a gun that you control predators on your ranch, on your farm, on your property,” he said, adding that denying access to the popular semi-automatic weapons “makes absolutely no sense.”
In the final hours of the 2022 legislative session, Iowa lawmakers approved a bill that legalizes using AR-15s for deer hunting. Gun store owners who supported the bill claim the AR-15 uses smaller bullets that can travel farther, and that’s beneficial in managing deer herds in counties where the population is high. The bill was awaiting Gov. Kim Reynolds’ signature at press time.
What a reckless, irresponsible bill. At last count, a measly 6.9% of Iowa’s residents were paid hunting license holders. Matt Sinovic, executive director of Progress Iowa, who opposed the bill, had it right when he said: “The more these types of assault rifles are made acceptable in our culture, in our community, that is how they become more prevalent, and that’s how they could end up in the wrong hands.”
Even though South Dakota has the highest percentage of hunters at 24.1%, it sees the writing on the wall and is desperately trying to breathe life back into the bloodthirsty industry—so much so that Gov. Kristi Noem tweeted a video of herself shooting at birds during the pandemic. “Less COVID, more hunting. That’s the plan for the future,” she said.
Actually, the plan for the future should be a federal ban on assault weapons. And the end of the hunting industry and the violence it represents can’t come soon enough.
As for the fur industry, we celebrate its demise. Lots of designers and luxury brands quit using fur when changing tastes from younger consumers put sales in free fall in 2020.
The coup de grace arrived in December 2021, when fashion magazine Elle announced it was banning fur from the pages of all its international editions to “foster a more humane fashion industry.”
Even Canada Goose Clothing Company, whose coyote-fur trimmed parkas have become ubiquitous, has promised to stop using fur by the end of this year. Friends of Animals targeted Canada Goose in an anti-fur campaign in the winter of 2017.
Of course, whether it’s railing against the hunting industry or the exploitation of animals for fashion, there’s always work to be done. Canada Goose still touts its “Responsible Down Standard,” which embraces “animal welfare” because it prohibits live-plucking or force-feeding in the supply chain. It claims its down is a byproduct from the goose and duck industry. That’s a crock. No amount of standards can ever prevent the animal cruelty inherent in killing ducks and geese for consumption.
At a fraction of Canada Goose’s pricey coats, Save the Duck manufactures warm, beautiful garments without animal products, and is carbon neutral. Its pledge is to operate responsibly and to balance profits and benefits.
Now that’s the kind of respect for animals and the environment I’m in the long haul for.