Following the shocking images and video material featuring supersized foxes on five Finnish fur farms, the Finnish fur industry interest organisation ProFur has finally responded with a press release dated 29 August 2017. The visual material from the farms was released by Oikeutta eläimille two weeks ago.
ProFur owns Saga Furs, the fur marketing organisation through which practically all fur sales are channelled in Finland.
Not an isolated case
“ProFur repeats their previous claim that the supersized foxes featured on the Oikeutta eläimille materials are isolated cases they condemn. However, many facts indicate these oversized animals are a common sight on Finnish fur farms. The industry is well aware of this situation and even celebrates it. The industry’s own Turkistalous magazine listed the average male fox weight as 19,4 kilogrammes in 2012, and 33 per cent of males weighed over 20 kilos. In nature, the arctic fox usually weighs from 3 to 4 kilogrammes”, says Heidi Kivekäs, Acting Executive Director of Animalia.
Furthermore, over the recent years, members of the ProFur Board as well as other fur farmers have been photographed posing for the media with oversized foxes, and industry publications feature these supersized animals.
The size of the animals has continuously increased, as indicated also by the new pelt size category which was introduced in 2009. Over 40 per cent of the pelts sold in the summer of 2017 were in the aforementioned largest size category.
Self-regulation is not working
“The industry claims that it will put an end to breeding oversized foxes through recruitment of additional vets and intensified cooperation with authorities. However, the problems in the fur farming industry are epidemic. It is clear that self-regulation is not working and that official monitoring needs to be increased and improved”, says Heidi Kivekäs.
The Finnish Animal Protection Law provides a very low minimum standard for fur farming. Studies show that even fur farming abiding by the regulations causes significant welfare problems for all species used as fur animals.
Still, the law is not followed. The most recent statistics show negligence on 66 per cent of the 38 farms (out of approximately 900 farms) inspected by authorities in 2016.
Additionally, statistics show that as the coverage of the inspections increases, so does the incidence of negligence. In 2015 only 23 farms were visited and negligence was found on half of them. In 2014 negligence was found on one of the mere four visited farms.
No action has been taken by authorities regarding the breeding of oversized animals since the 1990s, although the Finnish Animal Protection Law forbids breeding that causes suffering to the animal.
New Animal Welfare Law needs to be stricter
Finland is in the process of reforming its current Animal Protection Law which is over 20 years old. Animal rights organisations demand that significant improvements are written into the new law, including clearer obligation for authorities to prohibit and intervene in the type of selective breeding that causes health problems for animals.
The draft law will be released for public consultation in the coming months, prior to discussion in the Parliament in the spring. Thanks to the media coverage both in Finland and internationally, the issue is already being discussed in official committees such as the Finnish Farm Animal Welfare Council.
As well as the Finnish media, the case of the supersized foxes have been covered in the international media in at least the UK, China, Austria, Sweden, Norway and Denmark.
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