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University of Bristol
Wellcome Trust
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Animals for fashion

A woman wears a fur coat.The Fur Trade

Throughout history, fur has been seen as a luxury item of clothing, conferring high status on its wearer. Opponents of the fur trade have engaged in direct action for many years, and have had a high level of publicity. This has meant that fur has become less fashionable since people’s awareness of animal welfare and conservation issues has been raised. Nevertheless, although the big cats such as leopard and jaguar are protected, there is still a demand for spotted cat skins for the fashion trade. In the USA for example thousands of wild lynx and bobcat are trapped for their fur each year.

Question:  Where do you stand… Be honest! If you could afford it, would you like to have an expensive, high status item of clothing with fur in it?

American Mink

Fur farms are now largely outlawed in the UK. Originally imported from North America in the 1920s, the mink (Mustela vison) was bred for fur. Some mink escaped and others were released by animal rights activists and they soon spread rapidly throughout most areas of the UK. The mink is aggressive and powerful for its size. Adult males average 1.2 kg and about 600mm from the nose to the tip of the tail. Females are only half this weight and about 500mm in length. Mink are mainly nocturnal, usually live near water and prefer areas of thick bank-side vegetation. They can run, climb trees, burrow under ground and swim and usually prey on the vulnerable; fish at spawning time, birds at nesting time and fledglings, as well as poultry. Mink are primarily responsible for the decline of our native water vole. An adult breeding female will make up to 1,000 kills every year.

Question:  Should we try to eradicate the mink as a non-native species? If so, why should we not use their fur? If not, is it ethical to allow a species introduced by human activities to alter the balance of an ecosystem?


 Animals at work


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NOT RATED robyn wright 22-05-09 13:27
i think that this very cruel to all animals
NOT RATED Jenny B 22-11-11 17:56
animals deserve to live just as much as we do. don't wear fur.
NOT RATED Heather N 22-11-11 18:11
killing animals for their fur is wrong so stop. fur wearers, you don't know whose fur you're wearing
NOT RATED Jenny B 22-11-11 18:13
you'll never know whose fur you're wearing but trust me they look better in it than you do.
Célia L. 14-05-16 10:38
Fortunately, we have come to an age where wearing fur is not that generally accepted anymore.
Fur is definitely no high status item to me as I see people wearing (real) fur as ignorant, reckless and disrespectful. I can not understand how one can support animals being held captive in impossible conditions to be killed with extreme cruelty just to have a piece of fur on their clothes. Just think about the way you would feel about such a pitiful life and death, if it happened to yourself. Animals do have feelings, especially those that have a well developed nervous systems, that are, for example, those sharing the same subphylum with humans: the vertebrates. This should make it quite easy to put yourself in the position of those animals and just think about what pain they must feel and how they must suffer sitting day in, day out in tiny cages. Although you may think that they don't have the same consciousness we have, they do have the capacity to feel pain, anxiety and stress, which makes it ethically absolutely unacceptable to treat them like a numb object, and this only for our "good looks".

As respects to the topic where the mink is unbalancing the British ecosystem as it is a non-native species that was released there, it would definitely still not be ethically correct to kill it for its fur, in order to remove it from that ecosystem because one could simply catch it and disperse them into other habitats where their presence is natural (native habitat).
Humans have the duty to remove the mink as a disturbance they have introduced, in order to maintain the ecosystem and make up for their mistake, but this does not mean that the minks should be killed as they don’t deserve this, just for behaving naturally. This is a problem caused by humans, so it should be solved by humans without harming the unblameable mink.