Time to end the fur trade in Britain

14 June 2023


Born Free calls on the public to help end the cruel and exploitative fur trade.

The skins of dead animals lined up on a table to be used as furs

The fur trade is one of the most exploitative and cruel industries in the world today.

Headshot of Born Free Head of Policy Mark Jones

Born Free Head of Policy Dr Mark Jones

Fur farms were banned in the UK two decades ago. However, fur and fur products worth over £75 million continue to be imported to this country every year.

The ongoing import and sale of fur in the UK helps maintain a global industry that causes immense suffering to both farmed and wild trapped animals. In effect we have exported cruelty to other parts of the world over which we have no control.

It’s time to make the UK truly fur-free. Please sign the government e-petition calling for the current ban on cat, dog and seal fur to be extended to all fur products.

Fur farming

85% of the fur used in the fashion and clothing industry comes from animals raised on cruel fur farms, around half of which are located in Europe. Mink, foxes, chinchillas, raccoon dogs and lynx are typically raised in tiny mesh cages that provide just enough space to stand up and turn around. This living environment is a constant source of pain and suffering, and the methods used to slaughter the animals are immensely cruel. In addition, the stressful conditions make these farms a ticking time bomb for diseases which could affect people, as we saw when Covid-19 was identified in European mink farms resulting in the slaughter of millions of mink.

Fur trapping

Around 15% of the global fur trade is supplied from the trapping of wild animals in the United States, Canada, and Russia. The most heavily traded types of wild fur from North American are beaver, coyote, ermine, red fox, martin, mink, and sable.

The three different types of traps in common use are leghold traps which capture animals by snapping closed and gripping their legs, conibear (or body gripping) traps which snap closed on the body and kill or seriously injure the animals, and snares consisting of wire loops that tighten around a limb, neck, or body of an animal.

Animals caught in traps may remain there for several days before starving or dying from exposure or injury. Snares can slowly strangle animals to death, and animals whose limbs are caught in leg hold traps may chew off their paws to escape and subsequently die from their injuries.

Because of their indiscriminate nature, traps can also be dangerous to non-target animals. Trappers report that between three to ten non target animals are typically trapped for each intended victim.

Public opposition

The public has repeatedly shown its support for a ban on for imports and trade in the UK. In December 2022, Born Free commissioned a poll conducted by Opinion Matters which revealed that 79% of UK adults agreed that the UK should end the import and sale of animal fur in the UK, a call that was consistent across regions, age groups and political persuasions.

In June 2021, following huge public pressure, fashion house Canada Goose announced an end to its use of all animal fur products. Many other leading brands and fashion houses from Versace, Gucci, Tommy Hilfiger, Stella McCartney, and Giorgio Armani have also committed to going fur free.

Time to end fur trade in Britain

In 2019 California became the first US state to enact a law banning the sale of fur products which takes effect this year. In June 2021 Israel become the first nation in the world to implement a fur trade ban. In that same moth, the UK Government undertook a call for views on the future of the UK fur industry. Born Free, alongside other leading wildlife protection and animal welfare organisations and many individuals, called for Britain to follow the example of Israel and California and introduce a comprehensive fur trade ban.

The fur industry causes huge suffering for farmed and wild animals, is major source of environmental pollution, and risks spreading disease to humans. Bringing an end to this cruel trade would make Britain a true leader in animal welfare and protection in Europe and around the world.