Fur and Trapping

The New Hampshire Animal Rights League believes that wild animals have a right to an environment in which to live, breed, and raise their young, free from harassment by humans.

Fur and Trapping

Perhaps hundreds of years ago, killing an animal for its fur could be justified if the alternative were freezing to death. Yet even in the days of the North American frontiersmen, the fur trade was not driven solely by necessity. Animals such as the beaver were trapped to near extinction in meeting demand for fashionable fur items. Today we have many options for keeping our bodies warm that don’t require taking the lives of animals.

Fur

Whether it comes from animals trapped in the wild or raised on a fur farm, every fur coat, fur accessory, or piece of fur trim causes tremendous suffering and needlessly takes lives.

At Discover WILD NH Day, an annual  “family-friendly” event hosted by the NH Fish and Game Department, New Hampshire trappers display furs from animals that they killed.

Children line up to touch the soft fur of dead foxes, minks, skunks, and all the other animals that trappers, who comprise a tiny sliver of New Hampshire’s population, are allowed to torture and kill, often without limit.  

For many years, NHARL has held demonstrations outside the event to educate the public about the inherent cruelty of trapping.

More recently, we have gone inside the event, becoming exhibitors, and presenting information about helping, rather than harming, wildlife.  

The leg-hold trap is probably the most cruel device ever invented by man and is a direct cause of inexcusable destruction and waste of our wildlife.

Dick Randall, former federal trapper, addressing Congress in 1975

Andrew’s Legacy

In 2012, a dog named Andrew was killed by an illegally set body-crushing conibear trap.

Out for a walk with his guardian on a public trail in Auburn, NH, Andrew caught the scent of the baited trap and went to investigate. Next came a popping sound, followed by a yelp, as the trap slammed shut on Andrew’s neck.

Screaming, his guardian tried desperately to free him, but conibear traps are purposefully designed to be extremely difficult to open. In the end, all she could do was watch helplessly as her beloved companion suffered and died in front of her.

The trapper responsible for Andrew’s death, George Klardie, was charged with three counts of violating NH Fish and Game trapping rules and fined a total of $248.

In 2013, the New Hampshire Animal Rights League worked alongside other animal protection groups to get these body-crushing traps banished from New Hampshire’s landscape. The legislation, known as “Andrew’s Law,” did not pass, but the tragic death of this dog brought public attention to the issue.

While Andrew’s death was witnessed by his human companion and widely mourned, countless wild animals routinely endure the same horrible death in these traps.

NHARL board member Julia Sinclair gives testimony for Andrew’s Bill (HB 1579) in Representative’s Hall

Fur Farming

Fur is no longer primarily obtained by trapping animals in the wild. Today 80% of the fur comes from fur farming operations.

On these farms, rabbits, foxes, mink, and other wild animals spend their entire lives in cramped cages, deprived of the ability to engage in natural behaviors. Confinement drives them to pace relentlessly, tremble, and self-mutilate.

The day that the cage door finally opens is the day they are killed. The finale to a life of utter misery is an excruciating death, accomplished in one of several ways devised not to damage their fur. Preferred methods include gassing, poisoning, and anal/genital electrocution.

At least one fur farm has operated in New Hampshire, Gauthier Fur Farm in Lyndeborough, but reports indicate it has since closed. 

Hope for a Fur-Free Future

It’s been a long time coming — and too late for many animals — but 2019 brought an unprecedented shift in public attitude about fur. As consumers learned about the horrors of the fur industry, luxury brands, fashion houses, and department stores took note and began phasing out fur.

In 2019, Macy’s announced that they would stop the sale of fur and close their fur vaults by the end of 2020. This decision was celebrated by NHARL, who for many years held anti-fur demonstrations outside the Mall of New Hampshire, one of Macy’s locations.