News out of Ireland has them set to be the 15th country in the EU to phase out the barbaric practice of fur farming. A national poll late last year showed four in five people backed an end to fur farming and while the proposed legislation is still to be confirmed, mainstream Irish press has run with it as an assumptive decision. If passed, it will be seen as a U-turn for a government that has previously defended the industry, which currently employs about 100 people.
Ireland has just three of the 5,000 fur farms in the EU – housing an estimated 20,000 mink. (The EU accounts for 63 per cent of global mink production.) Minks spend their short, miserable lives crammed into tiny wire cages before meeting their death (by gassing at six months old) before being skinned for their pelts.
Close confinement leads to stress and cannibalism. Each of these mink has an injury due to fighting. Image: Jo-Anne McArthur/We Animals
Despite the trend turning against fur over the past decades, each year in excess of 50 million animals still suffer and die as victims of the international fur trade, driven by growing demand and disposable incomes in countries such as China and Russia. Additionally, the way we use fur has changed. Rather than a full fur pelt, which is seen as unfashionable, fur trim now features on coats, accessories and furniture and is seen as less confronting and fashionably desirable.
While we celebrate every positive news piece on fur, it’s sobering to realise that despite a perceived anti-fur consumer shift, demand for fur in certain markets continues to grow and is still viewed as a luxury product.
We applaud the animal welfare groups that continue to pressure governments, designers and fashion brands, asking them to reconsider their use of materials and look to adopt new, cruelty free ones in place of real fur, down and skin.