There is no such thing as “humane”, “ethical” or “animal-friendly” fur when it comes to fashion. The sad reality is that animals suffer when we use fur to make or decorate jackets, boots, hats and gloves. Most people can’t tell the difference between real and fake fur, and the inadequacies in Canadian labelling laws mean you could be wearing real fur without knowing!
The BC SPCA is opposed to killing animals for clothing – animals in the wild experience cruel deaths, or suffer when raised on fur farms.
Fur in fashion
In B.C., coyotes, rabbits, raccoons, mink, beaver, foxes and many other animals are killed for their fur. Not all items made in Canada containing fur are required to be labelled as such. This means handbags, toys, shoes or other items could be made of real fur without you knowing.
There is no guarantee that “faux” fur coats and other clothing items do not contain real fur to some extent, and some fur products imported and sold in Canada may even be made from cats or dogs.
Leg hold traps or snares often used by trappers are still legal in B.C. when used within 200 meters of a dwelling, despite their inherently inhumane nature. Even the trappers’ “humane trapping” methods allow animals to suffer for up to 72 hours on trap lines before they are checked. Fur farming is also inherently inhumane, as wild animals are bred and stocked as products in captivity.
Fur farming in B.C.
Wild animals can be farmed for their fur under the Animal Health Act and the Fur Farm Regulation.
Currently, there are 13 mink farms in B.C., almost all of which are in the Fraser Valley. In 2018, over 260,000 mink were killed for fur in B.C.
The mink are born in spring and raised in winter before they are killed on-site at the farm. The furs are shipped to an auction house where they are graded and sold, often to international markets. Mink oil is also harvested and commonly used as leather conditioner.
Farmed mink are the same as wild mink, but they have been selectively bred over 150 years for certain colours and traits (size, fur quality, temperament). Farmed mink keep their wild nature and instincts, and can become naturalized if they escape to the wild.
The BC SPCA does not encourage releasing farmed mink into the wild. Farmed mink in B.C. carry Aleutian virus, which may harm wild mink populations. The released animals can upset the natural ecosystem and most will not survive.
Codes of practice for mink farming
The BC SPCA is opposed to mink farming, but we do recognize this is a legal industry. Until the fur industry no longer exists, we expect all farms to meet the Canadian Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Farmed Mink (PDF).
Although the Canada Mink Breeders Associate suggests all members follow this minimum standard, there is no required monitoring in place, meaning there is no assurance that animal care standards are being met. To learn more about farm animal welfare laws in Canada, click here.