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Activists slam conditions at Europe's fur farms



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Renard. Credits: Margaret Weir, Unsplash.

Helsinki (AFP) - Animal rights group on Friday decried conditions at 31 fur farms in Europe, following the emergence of videos showing dead mutilated foxes lying in cages and minks with severe eye infections.

The videos, released by animal rights group Humane Society International (HSI), were filmed clandestinely at 20 fur farms in Lithuania, five in Finland, two each in Poland and Spain, and one each in Denmark and Latvia.

They were shot between April and November this year by several animal rights associations, including Oikeutta elaimille in Finland, Otwarte Klatki in Poland and Tu Abrigo Su Vida in Spain, an activist at Oikeutta elaimille, Kristo Muurimaa, told AFP.

The groups made around 100 visits in total to the fur farms, the HSI said.

The photos and videos, seen by AFP, show caged minks, foxes and raccoon dogs sick and in convulsions, as well as a number of animal cadavres with open wounds lying in the cages.

The Humane Society International, speaking on behalf of the associations, said the images illustrate the need for a ban on fur farming.

"We need a Europe-wide ban on fur farming because it is quite evident that animal suffering is part of the fabric of the fur farming industry," spokeswoman Wendy Higgins told AFP.

A petition calling for an end to the fur industry has garnered more than 1.5 million signatures from EU citizens and has been submitted to the European Commission, surpassing the one million required to trigger a response from the Commission.

Its answer is expected by December 14, HSI said.

The fur industry dismissed the criticism.

"I am not going to react to (the conclusions drawn by) people who break into farms and frighten the animals and create videos which are misleading," said Mark Oaten, the head of the International Fur Federation representing the industry.

"We welcome a scientific review of fur farming at the EU level, we have nothing to hide," he told AFP.

Oaten said an outright ban would lead to thousands of job losses in an industry he said was valued at $18 billion worldwide.

Twenty European countries have banned fur farms, including 15 EU member states.

Europe's leading fur farming nation Finland has around 400 farms and some 1.3 million animals, primarily minks and foxes.

Denmark, the previous holder of the title, reauthorised mink farming as of January 2023, after a two-year ban during the Covid pandemic to combat mutated strains of the virus (AFP).