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The Trapping of Fur-Bearing Animals

coyote80 percent of furs sold are the skins of minks kept throughout their lives on mink farms. Minks are intensely sensitive to stress and noise; and living, giving birth, and dying all under human control is a stressful life. They are treated merely as objects to serve the exclusive minority of people who buy fur products. It shouldn’t happen at all.

Where does the rest of the fur come from?

In addition to the owned minks, free-living animals die by the millions every year in North America — in traps, by the club, by strangulation, or under the booted human foot.

In the United States, the animals killed for fur include raccoons, red and grey foxes, beavers, otters, coyotes, wolves, lynxes, bobcats, opossums, badgers, and muskrats. It usually takes between 30 and 60 of these animals to make one fur coat.

The vast majority of free-living animals killed for fur are captured in steel-jaw leghold traps. Many nations have banned the use of leghold traps.

No traps, in our book, are acceptable. Conibear traps are equivalent to leghold traps in the prolonged suffering they cause, with the victim often strangling or drowning. Padded traps cause hideous injury and prolonged suffering as well, and the bottom line is that all this suffering and dying is utterly gratuitous. No one needs the fur industry.

To make matters worse, for every animal targeted and trapped, two to ten times as many non-targeted animals — including squirrels, hawks, eagles, owls, pet dogs and cats — are killed in the same trap. Many animals manage to free themselves from leghold traps by chewing off their trapped legs, only to die later from shock and blood loss or as the crippled victim of a hungry predator. Called “wring-off,” this desperate act of self-mutilation illustrates the pain and terror experienced by animals in these traps.

Everyone who reads this article is a consumer with the power to affect this industry by staying away from all fur, whether caught or ranch-raised, whether bought or borrowed. Given that fashion is a matter of what people are doing, one person’s choice of clothing sets an example to many other people.

We encourage the questioning of all products made from the skins of other animals — not just those associated with women’s fashions. Addressing the hideous business of trapping and the fur-selling industry is in no way targeting anybody’s sex; and there is no reason to allow such criticism to slow activists’ efforts. The fashion industry itself is using concepts of women’s vanity — concepts that it creates through advertising. The consumer has the power to reject such manipulation.

Moreover, fur products are sold to a relatively small minority; therefore, its purveyors are particularly vulnerable to powerful consumer activism.

We won’t quit until we see the end of this industry.

The industry, for its part, is very busy this year telling the media that fur is back. Now as much as ever, the voice of decency needs to be heard.