Over the past couple of months two fur farms in Ontario, Canada were targeted by animal rights activists. In the first incident on May 30th 2015 about 1500 adult mink were released from their cages. Then again this week over 6500 fur bearing animals that had been born earlier this spring were "freed" from a different farm.
Several myths have been brought to the forefront by such activist groups, and without a knowledge of what actually goes on at a fur farm, the general public may be misled.
Myth #1 Fur Farmers only care about profit
Fur farms in Ontario are often family-run operations that take years to build up in size. While people think about fur coats as an expensive luxury, the amount of money a fur farmer earns is only a fraction of the final price of a garment. If the farmer cared only about the amount of money he is earning, it would not be enough motivation for the long hours and up-front costs (food, vaccinations, infrastructure, and pens) required. My parents were fur farmers for about fifty years; they genuinely cared for the well-being of their animals not just because the loss of an animal cut into their profits. It was a way of life that entailed respect and up-close learning about the life cycle of one of God's creatures.
Myth #2 Raising an animal for its fur is wasteful
At first glance, fur-bearing animals raised for their fur may appear to be like poaching elephants for their tusks or black bears for their gall bladders. However, in the fur industry, every part of a mink or fox left after the pelt has been taken off is put to a use. For example the oils are used in various cosmetics and waterproofing for leather footwear. As well, the food that is prepared for farm-raised fur bearing animals to eat is not taken from the human food chain; rather meats and proteins that are undesirable or substandard for human consumption are being used in a productive way.
Myth #3 Farm animals would survive better in the wild
When activists break open cages to release animals into the wild, they think the animals will be better off. However, when such a large number of creatures is added to an ecosystem, the balance is upset. There will not be enough food to sustain them all; since the farm-raised animals have a place of warmth and shelter, placing them into the wild at certain seasons of the year is particularly perilous. For example, during the May 30th incident, nursing females were released, leaving their milk-dependent babies without warmth and nourishment. The weather that night was also particularly cold, adding to the problem.
A few times during my dad's farming career, people would phone him about a mink that was causing a nuisance on their property. When he went to these places, he could tell immediately if the mink was farm-raised or wild. The size alone is a significant difference, with wild mink being smaller. Wild mink have to find their own food and face different predators, including great horned owls, coyotes and wolves (and other mink!).
Even if some people do not agree with the raising of animals for their fur, they do not then have the right to damage private property and commit acts of vandalism like this. By taking the law into their own hands, such activists discredit their cause.
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