Legislation and Enforcement Needed

For Canada's Fur Trade

Legislation and Enforcement Needed

Regulations give a society a sense of security: the government is watching out for their best interests with a group of rules that protect them. But sometimes regulations just give a false sense of security – and that’s certainly the case with the modern fur industry and the more than 3,000,000 animals they kill each year in Canada. Whether it’s the archaic use of traps or industrialized fur farms, profit and ease for workers comes long before animal welfare.

Fur trapping is provincially regulated, focused primarily on maintaining a population large enough to act as a sustainable resource, rather than the treatment or quality of life for the individual animals used. Methods of trapping have changed little in the last century, and only when public outrage pushes governments into perfunctory policy changes, or out of convenience for trappers. Even an apparent increase in companion animals like dogs or cats being trapped regularly has not resulted in significant changes to these regulations. Since most trapping occurs in areas not frequented by people, enforcement or even ensuring that regulations are followed, is near impossible.

So-called “humane trapping standards” were born out of a trade agreement, and still allow for catastrophic failure rates of 20% – including gouged eyes, fractured bones, organ damage, or severe infection in one out of every five trapped animals.

Fur farms are also regulated provincially, but fail to protect individual animals. Some laws do exist, and a voluntary code of practices has been written, but enforcement of laws and the testing of them in court is virtually unheard of. Additionally, the animals raised for fur are predatory animals, not long-domesticated prey species, making their confinement particularly difficult for their psyche and physiology. Mink, the most heavily farmed fur-bearer, would spend more than 60% of their time in the wild in water, hunting and playing. In a fur farm, they only have access to drinking water – typically from a small pipe or shallow bowl.

Footage obtained from within Canadian fur farms has shown deplorable conditions, with mink and fox trapped in their own waste, showing signs of physical and psychological trauma, and even consuming their deceased cage mates.

Despite clear, documented cases of neglect, law enforcement officials have limited power to inspect fur farms – and few tested cases to show that prosecution is possible.

Unlike American, European or Australian industries, the Canadian fur industry has, in the past, blocked the passage of legislation prohibiting the import of dog and cat fur from Asian countries. Additionally, Canadian fur promoters have successfully used terms like “green” or “humane” – those that sound legal, but are simply marketing terms – without intervention from oversight bodies, who in other nations have prevented such terms from being applied to fur products.

The world is showing that fur isn’t a commodity they’re willing to ignore cruelty for, as pelt prices continue to fall in a decreasing market. But the animals suffering in Canada still need support – and the time has never been better for the legal community to step up.