This is an issue which has been a ‘battleground’ for UK animal campaigners and the official British government Defence Ministry for many years. As an animal activist; I have been involved with this in the past as I feel the use of bearskin is completely unnecessary now days; and has been for many years.
If London soldiers (and others) have to parade around in furry hats; then let them; fine; I have no objection to that; but all I say is that with the progress in faux fur over the years; there is no need now for real bearskins to be used in a soldiers hat. The wearing of bearskin caps goes way back to 1815 when the British fought at Waterloo; have we not moved on a bit since then ? – over 200 years later ?
I have argued the case for a ban on real bearskin with my MP in the distant past; and have always had the reply of ‘indigenous peoples need to get the skins’ as (in my opinion) an excuse for the unnecessary killing of bears. That is what it comes down to – the slaughter of bears to make hats – it is unnecessary in 2020 as there are a lot of options available that do not involve any cruelty.
Fur farming was banned in the UK some 20 years ago; and we as Brits are well proud of that. Tribute must go to Mark and the team at ‘Respect for Animals’ who undertook a fantastic campaign to achieve this. His work continues everywhere – find out more at http://www.respectforanimals.org/
From what we now understand, once the UK has finally left the EU next year (2021) and is not bound by single market (EU) rules; new legislation could be introduced (in the UK) to ban the use of real bearskin in the guards hats. It may seem a bit confusing – the UK formally left the EU at the start of 2020; but it is now in a ‘transition period’ (during 2020) with the EU where trade deals are going to be negotiated and set. This is to allow trade between the UK and the EU; so at the moment, despite leaving the EU, the UK cannot really introduce its own legislation; free from the rules of the EU, until new trade negotiations are completed this year (2020). Issues like animal welfare are included in the negotiations; and with higher, good welfare standards than in some places within the EU; UK activists do not want to see the UK lowering standards to those of some EU nations with issues such as intensive farming and fur.
Very recently; the UK government DEFRA; (Department for Food, the Environment and Regional Affairs) confirmed a sale ban which could raise standards (laws) further with regards fur products by the introduction of new laws; once the UK is completely free in 2021. The ban could affect both new and vintage coats, and also see shops selling decades old furs from being sold. Many areas in London are already not selling any fur products; a move which we welcome.
DEFRA said in their statement: “the UK has some of the highest welfare standards in the world and this is both a source of pride and a clear reflection of British attitudes towards animals. Fur farming has been banned in this country (UK) for nearly 20 years, and at the end of the transition period we will be able to properly consider steps to raise (our) standards even further. This is something that the Government is very keen to do”.
We at WAV would also include here the issue of live animal exports. Under current EU rules, the UK cannot introduce an individual state ban on live animal export; but this will be possible in 2021; post trade negotiations; when the UK is free from the shackles of the EU and can make its own legislations. In 2021 we are hoping that with campaign pressure and the vast majority wish of the British people voicing opinion against live export, the UK government will ban the export of live animals to Europe by (primarily) the Dutch and that the UK will formally stop this disgusting trade in sentient beings that we have been directly involved with for decades.
Read more on the Dutch association with UK live animal exports here:
Back to bearskin hats for soldiers. It is thought that the British Army purchases between 50 and 100 skins each year.; at a cost of around £650 per skin. HIS UK which is being consulted on the issue, stated that there could be ‘pragmatic exemptions’ from outdated fur being worn; such as with hats already in use by the military. But any ban on fur could apply under normal circumstances to charity shops, vintage fashion shops, anything in fact both on the high street or online which relates to fur.
Plans should take place in 2021 to have consultations on the issue; with an opportunity for both business and the general public to have their say. Even now, 81 MP’s and over 750,000 Britons support a ban on the sale of fur. Through effective and educational campaigning; the AR movement and organisations such as ‘Respect for Animals’ have won in the desperate attempt by the fur industry to withdraw itself from the animal suffering and grim truth that we all see regarding fur and fur farming.
Mark at WAV says – you cannot meet the complex behavioural and biological requirements of highly active and highly inquisitive animals such as mink, foxes and raccoon dogs by keeping them in the utmost deplorable conditions which we have all seen and posted about regarding fur farms. It is a simple fact; no amount of any PR spin by the fur industry and the animal killers will change that. A fur ban is not simply a fur wearing ban; it is about the saving of and the sparing of millions of animals the excruciating torment of confined life on a fur farm. It is time for the UK government to acknowledge the very strong British public opinion that any trade in the fur industry is cruel and unacceptable. It is time for a complete ban in every way as soon as the chance arises in 2021.
But until the UK officially leaves the EU on 31st December 2020, it cannot implement a unilateral ben on the fur trade and all its associated products. We understand that any new / future law would need most importantly to protect animal welfare, and that a draft government Bill / documentation on the fur ban has already been produced by HIS UK with the government. Meetings to date between parties have been described as ‘productive’.
A spokesperson for the British Fur Trade Association has said that ‘it beggars belief that in the middle of a pandemic and a recession, the government is secretly working on plans to ban the fur in people’s wardrobes. He went on declaring that fur is a natural and sustainable product that comes from highly regulated (??) and humane (???) sources which have increased sales by over 200% in recent years due to their ‘popularity’. Also declaring that the government needs to reject the pressure being exerted by ‘animal rights groups’ and instead focus on issues that actually matter to people !
So, no win for either at the moment; although it seems very much like the UK is coming out on the side of fur bearing animals. We at WAV fully support this approach. and we look forward very much to 2021 for many reasons. If we get a full fur ban in every way in the UK, and also stop by law the export of live animal exports, then things are moving on positively big time.
The government has a choice; it listens and acts on behalf of the people, or the people throw them out when they have the chance. A simple choice; and we hope they listen to the wishes of the vast majority of the British people.
Fur and live export bans as soon as possible !
Regards Mark (WAV)