Fur in New Zealand
Fur is not as big an industry in New Zealand as in other countries but we do import around $15,000,000 raw value worth of fur pelts and garments every year, and have a growing possum fur industry.
New Zealand also allows the fur farming of ferrets (between 2 and 5 farms exist in the entire country), but prohibits the import of mink. This means that effectively mink farming is banned in New Zealand.
Many major New Zealand retailers shun fur, but there are a few specialist fur and leather shops and smaller chains selling it. Whether it is a bit of fur trim, a rabbit-fur bobble scarf, or a full length coat, animals have suffered.
Since New Zealand has no labelling laws regarding fur, it is very difficult for shoppers to know whether fur is fake or real, making it hard to make an ethical choice.
Cat and dog fur in New Zealand
Overseas, fur labelled ‘fake’ has been found to be from dogs and cats. Products containing cat and dog fur could be being sold in New Zealand too. While the EU and United States have bans on cat and dog fur imports, New Zealand has no such ban and retailers could be selling these products unwittingly.
Possums were first released into New Zealand in 1837 with the purpose of establishing a fur trade. They were initially protected to allow numbers to increase.
Like other animals trapped for their fur, possums suffer greatly. The use of any fur only perpetuates the idea that fur is acceptable.
With estimates ranging from 30 -70 million possums currently inhabiting New Zealand, it is clear that the 1.5 million killed per year for the fur trade will do little to solve the ‘possum problem’. The Department of Conservation agrees, stating, “possum trapping does not reduce populations sufficiently to achieve a conservation benefit”.
There are so many small businesses profiting from possum fur that they now have a vested interested in maintaining possum numbers.
SAFE believes the local possum fur trade is more about profit than environmental preservation. If control is needed, it needs to be done humanely and fairly. No leg-hold trapping. No 1080. The key alternative would be the use of fertility control, which would slowly reduce numbers over time – proven effective, on populations of unwanted animals like wild horses and deer in the United States and in other countries. More effort should be made to develop these humane fertility control measures in New Zealand. Fur is not the answer – it perpetuates cruelty and does not solve ecological problems.