The Finnish Fur Breeders’ Association claims all “operations are strictly controlled by national laws”, but covert footage suggests otherwise
A new undercover investigation has found multiple instances of severe animal cruelty on farms of the biggest fox fur producing countries in Europe.
The investigation was conducted by Mirror and the Humane Society International/UK as part of the Fur Free Britain campaign.
They visited three farms in the Ostrobothnia region in Finland, known as the capital of fox fur farming.
These farms supply fur for fashion items including hats, scarves and coats to upscale UK stores such as Harrods, Harvey Nichols and Flannels.
Mirror correspondent Nada Farhoud and Claire Bass, of the Humane Society International/UK went undercover to gain ‘harrowing’ footage of these Finnish farms that raise Arctic foxes.
Kristo Muurimaa of the Finnish animal protection group Oikeutta Eläimille, and Dr Marc Abraham, TV vet and animal welfare campaigner, were also part of the operation.
Two of the three farms are certified by the industry’s SAGA furs assurance scheme, promising the “highest level of welfare”.
However, footage shows animals trapped in a tiny, barren cages with deformed feet, diseased eyes and some of them so obese they are called “monster foxes”.
Some of the foxes were seen pacing incessantly in cages that are around a metre square and had pulled out their overgrown fur – signs of psychological distress.
Around one to two million foxes are raised on around 750 fur farms in Finland. However, their entire lives are spent in captivation – most are electrocuted at just eight months old before being skinned.
Muurimaa told Farhoud that this is ‘the norm’ on all fur farms in the region.
“I have visited more than 100 fur farms and witnessed the systemic suffering of animals – intelligent, wild predators kept in small, barren cages, row after row,” he said.
“Individual care is impossible and, along with the psychological suffering, you will always see untreated illnesses and injuries.”
UK fur ban
While Britain banned fur farming in 2003, it has since exported more than £850million of fur, £11m of it from Finland.
Marc added: “It was not only truly depressing to see the appalling state of these foxes but still worse to know that the UK is 100% complicit in this legal fur trade cruelty.”
Claire further said: “Industry PR spin about high welfare rings incredibly hollow when you are staring into the eyes of an animal mentally and physically broken by a life of deprivation.
“It’s time to stop being complicit in this cruelty. It’s a clear double standard that the UK is outsourcing to countries like Finland the very same fur farm cruelty we banned here.”
In September, following a one million signature petition, the UK Government debated a ban on the import and sale of animal fur.
Speaking on behalf of the government, Defra Parliamentary Under Secretary of State Rebecca Pow MP said it was a priority.She added that the government was building evidence with a view to informing future policies.
The Finnish Fur Breeders’ Association FIFUR in response to the investigation said: “Clandestine filmings and their selective use tell nothing about the level of animal care and welfare. Responsible farmers treat their animals as soon as they become aware of any health issues.
“Trespassers will not know if the animal has received treatment or at what stage this is at. All operations are strictly controlled by national laws.”
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