A historical perspective by Cres Vellucci, one of the founders of this event.
"Fur-Free Friday" was created in 1986 by Trans Species Unlimited (TSU), based in Pennsylvania with West Coast offices in California, as a way to focus on department stores' decision to sell fur.
Prior to Fur-Free Friday, there were sporadic fur protests in the early and mid-1980s. However, activists with TSU felt there needed to be some kind of coordinated action to increase the intensity of protest against the cruelties of the fur industry. TSU also wanted activity that was more dramatic than passing out flyers.
In creating Fur-Free Friday, the intent was to provide grassroots activists all over the U.S. the opportunity to participate in a coordinated direct action against department stores. The focus was also placed on acts of nonviolent civil disobedience at these stores, similar to the lunch counter sit-ins and other civil rights actions.
In 1985, in a prelude to this organized event, two groups of activists -- one in the New York Macy's and another in the Sacramento Macy's - did the first-ever coordinated, non-violent civil disobedience activity protesting fur in the U.S. The arrests totaled several dozen. The following year, the dedicated anti-fur activists hit stores on what is widely known as the busiest shopping day of the year, the day after Thanksgiving.
Since then the day after Thanksgiving has become known in the movement as Fur-Free Friday.
At its height of popularity among activists, Fur-Free Friday involves dozens of grassroots groups in more than 30 states, all engaged in non-violent protests that result in hundreds of arrests. Meanwhile, as Fur-Free Friday grew, fur sales slumped. In the 1980s, fur sales topped more than $2 billion a year and, likely due to protests such as Fur-Free Friday, have dwindled to about half that currently.
By the early and mid-1990s, Fur-Free Friday had been recognized in the animal movement as being one of the most widely attended U.S. protests against animal suffering. Nationally recognized organizations such as In Defense of Animals (IDA) have been significant promoters of the movement-wide event by providing anti-fur posters and informational literature.
In 1997, Fur-Free Friday saw a range of activities, including non-violent civil disobedience. More than 100 dedicated activists were arrested while making their statements of protest against fur. Fur-Free Friday is one of the few nationally recognized days in the animal movement with "ownership" belonging to grassroots activists determined to halt the cruel fur industry and retailers of its products.
Cres Vellucci can be contacted via email at: email@example.com, or website www.FurFreeFriday.com.
The Fur Facts: Trapping
10 million animals are trapped for their fur each year. The United States, Canada, and Russia account for most of the world's wild
Approximately two non-target animals are caught for every one furbearing animal. These non-target animals include
squirrels, opossums, dogs, cats, and even endangered species and birds of prey that are attracted to baited sets.
The steel jaw leghold trap is the most common trap used by the fur industry, followed by the wire snare, and the Conibear
body gripping trap which crushes the animal.
88 countries and 5 states have banned the leghold trap because of its inherent cruelty and because it is non-selective and
traps whatever animal steps into it.
Congress has failed to pass anti leghold trap legislation, despite public opinion surveys showing that 74% of Americans oppose
this device. These polls are verified by the fact that when given a chance, voters in CO, MA, and AZ voted to ban trapping.
Animals are left in these traps from anywhere from 1 to 3 days, and sometimes longer. Many times these animals will die
from starvation, hypothermia, dehydration, or predation by another animal. Otherwise the trapper will shoot them, stomp them, or
Many animals will chew off their own limbs in a desperate attempt at escape. This is especially common in raccoons. A 1980
study found that as many as 1 out of every 4 raccoons caught in a leghold trap would chew his foot off to escape.
Some companies manufacture padded leghold traps for cosmetic purposes. These padded traps still have to slam shut with
enough force to restrain a fighting mad wild animal. Animals caught in padded traps are still exposed to the elements and predators
until the trapper returns to kill them. Studies show that padded traps cause injury to 97% of the coyotes that they ensnare.
Many animals knock out their teeth as they bite at the jaws of the traps. In Sweden a study was conducted where 645 foxes were
caught in leghold traps. 514 of the foxes were considered seriously injured, and 200 of them had knocked out teeth as they bit at
There are 150,000 trappers in the United States.
Wisconsin, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Michigan are the leading trapping states.
The Fur Facts: Farming
31 million animals are raised and killed on fur farms each year. Mink account for 26 million, fox 4.1 million. Chinchillas, raccoon
dogs (not to be confused with the North American raccoon), fitch and sable make up for most of the other ranch raised furbearers.
Mink are usually killed by gassing, neck breaking or poison injection. Most foxes are killed by anal electrocution, while
chinchilla breeders recommend either neck breaking or genital electrocution.
Mink and fox are genetically wild animals that are not adapted to a life in captivity. Whereas a wild mink would range a territory
that is approximately 3 square kilometers in size, a ranch raised mink is confined to a cage that is 12 inches wide by 18 inches long.
The intensive confinement leads to self mutilation, cannibalism, and a high level stress which breaks down the animals'
Approximately 17% of ranch raised mink, and 20% of ranch foxes die prematurely as a result of these factors.
There are 415 mink farms in the US, which account for 10% of world production.
Scandinavian countries account for 80% of world fox production and 54% of world mink production.
Wisconsin, Utah and Minnesota are the leading mink producing states in the U.S.
Fur farmers have used inbreeding to develop mutant color phases in fur animals. This has led to genetic defects including white
mink that are deaf and pastel mink with nervous disorders.
Many fur farms will feed the corpses of the skinned animals back to the live animals to save on feed costs. This sort of
forced cannibalism was banned in the cattle industry because it was believed to cause Mad Cow disease.
Ferrets are raised on fur farms in Europe. Their skins are marketed as fitch fur. Studies show that as many as 2/3 of the ferrets
on fur farms come down with disease as a result of the poor living conditions.
The Fur Facts: U.S. Trade Economy
Fur imports into the US declined 8.9% in 1997. Imports account for 60% of US retail sales.
The fur industry claims that their annual sales are at $1.27 billion. This figure includes revenue from fur storage, cleaning, and
repair, as well as from the sale of fur trim, leather, and shearling. Actual fur sales are much lower, probably at about $700 million.
51% of all US fur sales take place in the Northeast, followed by 25% in the Midwest.
Fur trade journals described the winter of 1997-98 as the "most disappointing retail fur season in recent memory." Fur World
magazine chastised industry PR groups for giving them false hopes for a good season. This came after the Fur Information
Council of America pitched numerous stories which falsely proclaimed that "fur was back."
Source: Coalition to Abolish the Fur Trade (CAFT) Website http://www.banfur.com Email: CAFT13@aol.com
"FUR FARMS FACE SHUTDOWN OVER NEXT THREE YEARS IN U.K."
By John Deane, Chief Political Correspondent, PA News
Source: Radio 4's Today programme; firstname.lastname@example.org; on behalf of; CAFT13@aol.com
The British Government was today publishing a Bill which will ban fur farming by the end of 2002. The UK's remaining 13 fur farms, all in England, currently slaughter around 100,000 mink for fur each year. Farmers will receive compensation, although the amount has yet to be decided. Today Agriculture Minister Elliot Morley explained why the Government was so determined to press ahead with the Bill, unveiled in last week's Queen's Speech. "We did give an undertaking that we would phase out fur farming, and indeed although there's only mink farming at the present time, it's still legal to farm other animals like Arctic fox ... so I think it is important that we do take a decision to end fur farming in this country," said Mr. Morley. "If we don't legislate, even if they all declined and eventually closed, in the future there would be nothing to stop another one opening." Compensation would be determined on a farm by farm basis, dependent on their size and assets, he said. Fur farming was particularly intensive. "It's an intensive method of farming with battery cages ... so it is a kind of farming that many people find unacceptable. Many people find it morally unacceptable because it's just for fur, and you don't really have to farm animals for this reason," he told BBC.