Mink, foxes and raccoon dogs are forced to tear each other to pieces as they suffer appalling conditions in Finnish fur farms.
An investigation by the Humane Society International (HSI) was launched and they have released shocking footage and images of the conditions the animals face to coincide with International Fur-Free Friday.
The footage reveals animals are forced into cannibalism and kept in tiny cages with raw wounds festering.
The miserable foxes, mink and raccoon dogs suffer with deformed feet, diseased eyes and open lacerations across their bodies.
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A fox has had an ear ripped off and suffers from red eyes as it lives in a cramped cage inside a Finnish fur farm; the Humane Society International went to Finland to investigate two certified fur farms and took these harrowing images
Two of the animals fight in their tiny cage; the conditions the animals live in, not only damages their physical health, but also their mental health and they are forced to become more aggressive
A gorgeous black fox – one of the rarest breeds in the UK – is caged in a Finnish fur farm, no doubt his black coat will fetch a premium from overseas buyers
Raccoon dogs are packed tightly into their prisons to maximize efficiency and profit; since 2003 the UK has imported £14 million worth of fur from Finland
Fur farming confines animals for all their lives before they are harvested for the coat on their back – mink are killed by gassing and foxes and raccoon dogs are killed by anal electrocution.
Veterinary professor, Alastair MacMillan, looked at the footage and said it ‘shows the toll that the continued isolation and confinement is having on these animals, many are showing signs of severe physical and psychological distress.
‘Several of the mink and foxes have open, infected wounds and several foxes have grossly diseased eyes which will be extremely painful.
‘If this is the best the fur industry can offer animals, no wonder so many designers, retailers and now cities no longer want anything to do with it.’
Two mink can be seen with injuries, the one on the left with an open wound on its nose and the one on the right with blood and reddening on its face; he may have come out the better on this occasion as the helpless animals attack each other
A fox curiously approaches the camera, it appears to be nervous and timid around the people; this could be an indication of the treatment he has suffered at the hands of his owners
In the UK fur farming has been banned since 2000 but Britain continues to import fur from a variety of species including foxes, rabbits, mink, coyotes, raccoon dogs and chinchillas.
The charity wants Britain’s Environment Secretary Michael Gove to ‘stop his double standard’ and stop importing furs.
The UK director of the Humane Society, Claire Bass, was so shocked she staged a protest by locking herself in a cage yesterday for 24 hours outside the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in London.
A UK ban would follow in the footsteps of similar action in West Hollywood, Berkley and San Francisco.
The footage taken by HSI showed two fur farms where thousands of mink, foxes and raccoon dogs are being raised for fur.
The fox on the left appears to have a sore wound to its right flank as it bows in submission to another fox who is about to take a bite into the top of its head
The mink on the left’s eye is closed and looks very raw with blood and pus seeping out, while the rear of a mink can be seen on the right with its fur torn off and packed with dirt that has got stuck to the blood
Each of the fur farms was certified by the fur industry as being ‘high welfare’, despite the harrowing pictures.
Since the UK’s ban took effect in 2003, they have imported nearly £700 million of fur, including £14 million worth from Finland.
Finnish farms are the biggest producers of fox fur in Europe where around 2.5 million foxes are reared and electrocuted every year for the global fur trade.
Other exporters include Italy, France, Poland, China and Russia where the conditions on fur farms are as bad or even worse.
Ms Bass said: ‘Seeing first hand these animals mentally broken on fur farms and even driven to cannibalism has been utterly heart-breaking.
A raccoon dog appears to be obese as the animals are not cared for properly and lead a poor quality of life, nothing like they should as wild animals
A white fox, a breed which we do not have in the UK, looks frightened as a camera lens it pressed up against the wire of its cage
Another white fox has its tail wrapped through the fence and at its base the tail has become detached partly to reveal a bloody open wound
‘In their tiny barren cages these animals have zero quality of life, they merely exist as shadows of the wild animals they should be.
‘It’s sickening that the fur trade still attempts to justify this blatant animal suffering, and we hope that our investigation will encourage designers still using this fur to see through the travesty of so-called “high welfare fur.”‘
A Finnish animal right activist, Oikeutta Elaimille, who accompanied HSI on the fur farm visits, said: ‘Tragically what we saw on these farms is far from unusual.
A wider angle of mink in their cages shows the tiny space they are confined to; a venerinary professor, Alistair MacMillan said: ‘If this is the best the fur industry can offer animals, no wonder so many designers, retailers and now cities no longer want anything to do with it’
A disturbing gash can be seen in the side of this fox’s abdomen as a small toy provided for them to gnaw on has not sufficed for one of his vicious neighbors
A younger white fox has suffered catastrophic wounding to its left eye which is one of a number of animals who suffers from blindness due to the appalling conditions
Two mink lie down in their horrible cage, with their feet hanging through the wire which is covered in detritus and flecks of fur
‘I have visited more than one hundred fur farms and the suffering of the animals has been obvious in every single trip.
‘More and more countries are banning fur farming and the Finnish government’s support for it is looking increasingly isolated and outdated.’
In July, the Environment Food and Rural Affairs (EFRA) Select Committee published a report on its inquiry into the UK fur trade, including recommending that the government holds a public consultation on banning the sale of animal fur in the UK.
Finland’s ProFur director of communications said earlier this year: ‘Fur industry is part of the Finnish bio-economy and circular economy.
‘It brings 400 – 500 million euros annual export incomes especially to rural areas. It is traditional, responsible and constantly developing. I want to be part of making fur industry more transparent to the general public.’
Johanna Korpela, a veterinarian for the Finnish Fur Breeders’ Association, said today: ‘The symptoms that some animals had in photos are regrettable and everything has been done in daily care routines to prevent such. But as in all animal farming, there will be the rare occasion when sicknesses or wounds etc can occur.
‘Although responsible fur farmers are doing their best, it is possible that some of the thousands of production animals can suddenly fall ill. Four dead animals out of the 12,000 animals on the mink farm on the date of the secret filming equals 0.033% mortality, which is below the typical figures in the production animal sector.’
A statement from the organisation says that minks become distressed by intruders and torches and may become aggressive towards each other, adding that sudden eye infections or wounds can also occur between care and feeding rounds despite careful animal husbandry.
‘Both of the farms involved have valid Finnish Standards Fox/Mink/Finnraccoon certification and both farms have been inspected according to this certification programme,’ the statement reads.
‘Official veterinarians and ProFur’s own veterinarians have inspected both farms. A municipal veterinarian visited the second shed area on the farm in Southern Ostrobothnia on the day of the intrusion, on 2 October, and the farm at Ostrobothnia on 5 October, as a separate request due to the intrusion.
‘The farms received no complaints. There are more than 12,000 minks on the farm in Ostrobothnia and 2,000 foxes and Finnraccoons on the farm in Southern Ostrobothnia.’
A recent report by the Daily Mail found that many UK shops, including TK Maxx and Amazon were selling real fur – such as fox and raccoon dog – as faux-fur.
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