‘I saw animals in cages, stressed and suffering’: Former fur trade boss calls for UK sales ban
Written by on 8 September 2020
The former CEO of the British Fur Trade Association has called on the prime minister to ban fur sales in the UK.
Mike Moser, who worked in the fur industry for a decade, described it as “anachronistic, barbaric and unnecessary”.
In an exclusive broadcast interview with Sky News, he said: “I visited fur farms across the globe. I saw animals in cages, stressed and suffering…prime minister I’m calling upon you to stop this inconsistency, to stop this cruel practise and to ban the sale of fur – now.”
Fur farming was banned in the UK in 2000 after a consultation found overwhelming public support for the move.
However, the UK still imports foreign-farmed fur including fox, rabbit, mink, racoon and chinchilla, which Mr Moser believes is “inconsistent, ambiguous, and hypocritical”.
He told Sky News: “Fur is not a necessity. It’s for vanity. In 2020, there is no justification for fur – full stop. That an animal is caged for its entire life is wrong.”
He says the fur trade “has no place in modern society” and “is out of place and out of time.”
He claims it was coming home to his pet labrador after visiting fur farms overseas that made him increasingly question the ethics of keeping foxes and raccoon dogs in wire cages for their entire lives.
He added: “It’s a big U-turn for me, but it’s OK to change your mind and I would implore people who are considering buying fur to change their minds.”
Mr Moser resigned from his role as chief executive of the British Fur Trade Association after he gave evidence at a parliamentary inquiry launched due to a Sky News investigation in to the mis-selling of real fur as fake.
We found major high street stores were advertising products as “faux” fur when in reality they were rabbit, mink, fox, raccoon dog, and most consistent with cat.
After Sky News presented the findings in parliament, the select committee concluded retailers were failing consumers and recommended a public consultation on a fur ban should take place.
Mr Moser told Sky News: “As soon as the committee report was published, I resigned. I resigned from the fur trade because I could no longer in all good faith, and with a good conscience, defend what I believe to be indefensible.
“I no longer believed it possible to raise animals in cages and maintain good welfare. I no longer believe in the right of the industry to exist when its product, the fur is produced solely for vanity.”
During his 10 years working for the fur industry, Mr Moser visited farms on five continents and found the confined conditions “upsetting”.
He told Sky News: “The animals on the fur farms are born in cages, and they lead their short lives in the cages. They never know what it’s like to run free. The cages are mesh cages.
“They have to be so that the faeces of the animals can fall through the floor. So in the case of the mink and young fox cubs…their feet are too small to walk on the mesh and quite often they fall through the floor.
“Both these animals, particularly the mink, have padded feet, walking on these metal grids causes sores. It must be immensely uncomfortable.”
He was also distressed by what he felt were high density farm conditions.
“If you take foxes in particular, the cages are barely larger than the animal,” he said. “Now the welfare regulations in Europe, which are held to be gold standard by the industry were published in 1999, they haven’t changed for 21 years.
“In that time selective breeding by fur farmers has increased the size of animals. So simply by that measure alone, those cages are too small.”
When challenged by Sky News over whether it should be left to consumers to decide whether they purchase fur, an argument Mr Moser had himself regularly used, he responded that “there’s lots of decisions governments take for the greater good”.
In his decade working in the fur industry, footage sometimes emerged of alleged animal cruelty at farms.
“Farmers would come back and explain that these were out of context or not on regulated farms or have been set up by the animal rights extremists,” Mr Moser said.
“If you can’t stop these practices, even on one or two farms, then it’s the system itself that’s wrong. There’s no doubt from the footage that we’ve seen over the years that there are many animals in great distress on many fur farms”.
Mr Moser is now working alongside the Humane Society International charity to campaign for a ban on fur.
Claire Bass, HSI executive director, told Sky News: “Mike spent ten years on the inside of the fur trade, so his verdict that this is an inherently and unacceptably cruel business is a pretty damning indictment.
“I fully respect Mike’s change of heart, and he now has an important and powerful message for the UK government – if someone like him with a decade’s experience inside the fur industry says it’s right to ban fur sales, then it’s time to take action and end the suffering.”
Labour pledged to stop fur imports in 2018 but the Conservatives are unlikely to review this for the time being.
Responding to a written parliamentary question, environment minister Victoria Prentis said last week: “During the transition period, it is not possible to introduce restrictions relating to the fur trade.
“Once our future relationship with the EU has been established there will be an opportunity for the government to consider further steps it could take in relation to fur sales”.
Mr Moser’s high profile U-turn follows that of multiple designers – who have pledged fur-free policies including Prada, Gucci, Armani, Versace, Michael Kors, Jimmy Choo, DKNY, and Burberry.