New scientific report on fur farming: animal welfare needs cannot be met

The revised edition of The Case Against Fur Factory Farming: a scientific review of animal welfare standards and ‘WelFur’, published today by Respect for Animals and Eurogroup for Animals, includes the latest scientific evidence regarding the welfare of animals farmed for fur in Europe, and critically evaluates the fur industry’s ‘WelFur’ protocols for on-farm assessment. 

The report documents the extent of animal welfare failings inherent on fur farms and highlights that the current regulatory framework for the protection of fur animal welfare in the European Union is inadequate. It also finds that WelFur is not able to address the major welfare issues for mink, foxes and racoon dogs farmed for fur, and establishes that enrichment of existing housing systems is unable to address the welfare problems inherent in the cage systems used by the fur industry, concluding that a ban is the only viable solution.

The pressure to end fur farming in the EU has increased significantly with the success of the Fur Free Europe European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI), which collected more than 1,7 Million signatures in less than 10 months. The ECI calls for a ban on fur farming and on the placement of farmed fur products on the European market. 

By the end of 2023, the European Commission will publish a proposal aimed at improving the EU’s animal welfare legislation to align it with the latest scientific evidence. The report highlights how science has clearly shown that it is not possible for the welfare needs of animals farmed for fur to be met on European fur farms. Therefore, a ban on fur farming should be included in the proposal.

The report’s highlights include: 

  • The species farmed for their fur are essentially wild animals, and, as such, are not suited to captivity, least of all in small cages. 
  • The welfare of mink, foxes and racoon dogs farmed for fur is severely compromised across all areas of the Five Domains Model for assessing animal welfare.
  • There is no evidence that improvements in the housing systems used on fur farms could lead to significant improvements in the welfare of fur animals.
  • Levels of fear, stereotypic behaviour, fur-chewing/tail-biting, physical deformities and reproductive failure/infant mortality show that the animals’ needs on fur farms are not being met.
  • Mink, foxes and raccoon dogs are highly motivated to access specific resources and perform species-specific behaviours that are not possible in the housing systems currently used on fur farms.
  • The fur industry’s WelFur protocols are designed around the very serious limitations of current housing systems and reward the status quo. Welfur is not able to address major welfare issues for animals farmed for fur.
  • The ‘best current practice’ ceiling of the Welfur protocols is misleading because it still represents what most people consider to be an unacceptable level of welfare.

“The UK became the first country to ban fur farming over twenty years ago and it is a similar length of time since the EU’s SCAHAW report highlighted serious concerns about the welfare of animals farmed for fur in Europe. As this report explains, the chronic welfare failures for mink, foxes and racoon dogs farmed for fur in Europe continue to this day. This is unacceptable. It is vital that the European Commission reflects the science and takes action to end fur farming in the EU”, added Mark Glover, Campaigns Director for Respect for Animals.

“Scientists confirm once again that animal welfare and fur farming are no match. We’re talking about wild animals with specific needs that just cannot be met in a wired cage. Improving the cage system is not a viable solution either. If Europe wants to keep its title of global leader in animal welfare it needs to ban fur farming and the placement of farmed fur products on its market. The science is there and 1.7 million European citizens are asking for it. Now the European Commission has the opportunity to finally make it happen”, commented Reineke Hameleers, CEO, Eurogroup for Animals

Download the report here: The case against fur factory farming: a scientific review of animal welfare standards and ‘WelFur’

Download the Executive Summary here: