New report: cage enrichment on fur farms is inadequate and unworkable

A newly published scientific briefing paper confirms that attempts to introduce cage enrichment or alternative housing systems as a means of improving welfare on fur farms would be doomed to fail. As the European Commission considers the revision of animal welfare legislation, the report concludes that a ban on fur farming across the EU is the only viable solution to the major welfare problems for mink, foxes and raccoon dogs farmed for their fur in Europe.

A new briefing paper, Inadequate and Unworkable: how cage enrichment or alternative housing systems fail to meet the welfare needs of animals farmed for fur, is published today by Eurogroup for Animals and Respect for Animals. Providing an overview of current standards for the housing of mink, foxes and raccoon dogs farmed for fur in European countries, it also comprehensively examines the scientific evidence on the possibility of meeting the welfare needs of these species, either through enrichment/enlargement of cage systems or development of alternative housing systems.

By the end of 2023, the European Commission (EC) will publish a proposal aimed at improving the EU’s animal welfare legislation to align it with the latest scientific evidence. Earlier this year, a leak of the draft Impact Assessment report on the revision of animal welfare legislation suggested ‘improved’ animal welfare requirements as an option for fur farmed animals, ‘while ensuring that it remains economically viable to farm fur animals under those conditions’. As the title suggests, the ‘Inadequate and Unworkable’ briefing explains how this is not a credible option. 

The report concludes that the ‘available scientific evidence, together with experience in various European countries, clearly shows that enrichment/enlargement of cage systems is not able to address the major welfare issues for mink, foxes and raccoon dogs farmed for fur and there are insurmountable obstacles to the development of more extensive alternative systems. This makes it impossible for the needs of mink, foxes and raccoon dogs to be met by the fur industry. A ban is the only viable solution to the serious welfare problems of animals farmed for fur.’

Animal protection campaigners are strongly urging the EC to acknowledge the inadequacy of enrichment/enlargement of cage systems for fur animals, as pressure continues to grow for an EU-wide ban on fur farming. 

Earlier this year, more than 1.5 million signatures were submitted to the Commission calling for a Fur Free Europe, making it the most successful European Citizens’ Initiative about animal welfare. The Fur Free Europe ECI was formally presented to the Commission in July 2023 and a hearing in the European Parliament is expected this autumn. Furthermore, at a session of the Agriculture and Fisheries Council (AGRIFISH) this summer, a majority of Member States called on the EC to introduce a ban on fur farming. 

The science is clear – only a total ban on fur farms will truly protect animal welfare. Member states and EU Citizens have made their voice heard, the ball remains in the European Commission’s court, to end this cruel practice once and for all, commented Reineke Hameleers, CEO, Eurogroup for Animals.

This report sends a stark message to European decision makers that a move towards legislating for cage enrichment on fur farms would be doomed to fail. Any such plans must be immediately discarded. There are inherent welfare failures with fur farming that cannot be resolved by tinkering around with cage standards.  The science is clear and is summarised in this new briefing paper.  

If the European Commission is serious about improving animal welfare in the EU, then a full ban on fur farming is a necessity. Indeed, the farming of mink, foxes and racoon dogs for fur should already be prohibited in accordance with Council Directive 98/58/EC,” added Mark Glover, Campaigns Director, Respect for Animals.



Download the report here.

Mark Glover, Campaigns Director, Respect for Animals

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