The fur trade

Animals in Need

Fur belongs on animals. We can all do something to ensure the future is fur-free. Together, we can make this happen.


With fur farming banned in many countries, fur trapping illegal or restricted in others and general disgust at taking the skin of an animal for a vanity garment, furriers are desperately searching for new ways to peddle their gruesome wares.

The New Zealand fur trade

Possums were first released into New Zealand in 1837 to establish a fur trade. They were initially protected to allow numbers to increase.

Today, the ‘wild fur’ trade is big business in New Zealand. Possums are trapped or poisoned in the name of conservation, then sold for fur, thus marketing possum fur as an ‘ethical and sustainable’ choice.

Leghold traps and cyanide poisoning are the recommended methods of trapping and killing possums, both of which cause the animals immense suffering. Ferrets and stoats are also targeted, although they are not commonly used for their fur.

The situation overseas

Fur farming is banned in many countries, including Austria, Croatia, the United Kingdom, the Czech Republic and Norway (from 2025). Other countries have simply stopped farming fur, due it being too difficult to comply with strict welfare guidelines.
These guidelines include enrichment features such as the availability of swimming water for semi-aquatic animals like mink and climbing branches for animals whose natural behaviour is to climb.

Suffering isn’t stylish

The fur industry has undergone intense scrutiny for decades, not just from animal rights groups, but also from the general public. Like other industries that profit from cruelty, the fur industry goes out of its way to gloss over the truth and portray fur as an ethical, ‘eco’ choice ‒ particularly in New Zealand, where the control of animals labelled as pests and profiting from fur go hand in hand.

In New Zealand, possums are either caught in leghold traps or poisoned with cyanide, then sold for profit, to be made into hats, gloves and slippers, or blended with merino wool to make fabric for clothing.

The truth is, there is nothing eco-friendly about fur. Toxic chemicals are commonly used to preserve and process the skins, and it takes 20 times as much energy to prepare a coat made from animal fur as it does to make one made from fake fur. Fur coats are not biodegradable – they are coated in chemicals to stop them from rotting.

A 2011 study of fur farms by independent organisation CE Delft investigated fur farms in the Netherlands and Belgium to determine the impact of fur production on the environment. The studies found that fur farming causes far more harm to the environment than textile production — and uses more water.

Buyer beware

Overseas, much of the fur labelled ‘fake’ is from dogs and cats. Products containing cat and dog fur could be on sale in New Zealand. While the EU and United States have bans on cat and dog fur imports, New Zealand has no such prohibition, and retailers could be selling these products unaware.

Whether it’s a fur trim, a bobble hat, or even a cat or dog toy, it’s always worth checking whether the fur is fake. Look at the base and check whether the fur is threaded onto fabric or attached to skin. You can also try looking to see whether the fur has a tapered tip, as this can also indicate real fur. If in doubt, leave it in the shop.

Take action!

- Refuse to buy or wear clothing containing fur
- Be extra vigilant with ‘fake’ fur. It might be the real thing
- Don’t support businesses that sell fur
- Write to shops and businesses that sell fur products to educate them about the cruelty of fur
- Go the extra mile and avoid all products made from animal fibres

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As a charity, SAFE is reliant on the support of caring people like you to carry out our valuable work. Every gift goes towards providing education, undertaking research and campaigning for the benefit of all animals. SAFE is a registered charity in New Zealand (CC 40428). Contributions of $5 or more are tax-deductible.