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.
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.
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.
In 1975, Dick Randall, a former federal trapper told Congress: “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.”
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 they killed.
For many years, NHARL has held demonstrations outside the event to educate the public about the inherent cruelty of trapping. (photo by Elizabeth Frantz)
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, although reports indicate it has since closed.
Public Awareness is Growing
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.
Visit the web site of one of New Hampshire’s many “pest” control companies, and you may get the impression that we are at war with every other living creature — except, of course, our pets.
Here’s how one wildlife control company describes raccoons:
Known for their invasive scavenging tendencies and search for shelter, raccoons pose a common problem for homeowners… Risking removal on your own could result in a bite or scratch, or even exposure to fecal matter, all of which could expose you — or the family dog — to diseases… like ringworm and canine distemper, which can prove fatal to dogs.
These fear-provoking descriptions are typically accompanied by photos of animals baring their teeth or otherwise looking threatening. In truth, these animals are likely petrified. Looking fierce is their best defense against a much larger would-be attacker. Scary animal images promote the “us vs. them” mentality that helps sell pest control services and products to consumers.
Sometimes people decide that there are “too many” of a particular animal. Perhaps it’s too many deer eating their ornamental plantings or too many Canada geese on the golf course. A decision is made to fix the problem by “culling” the population. Culling is the organized, systematic elimination of unwanted birds or other wildlife.
Fortunately, many people oppose the organized killing of animals when it’s done simply because some people consider them a nuisance. NH Animal Rights League has joined with others in standing up against many attempts to cull geese, deer, and other animals.
When it comes to hunting animals, some methods are more intolerable than others. Most people don’t even know about these shameful practices, because they happen deep in the wilderness, far from public view.
Buy every now and then some deplorable act makes the news — such as the shooting of Cecil the lion — and the public gets a glimpse at the largely hidden world of hunting.
In New Hampshire, it is legal to hunt bears using bait, a practice prohibited in Maine, Vermont, and most other states.
Bear baiting is the use of food or other enticement to lure bears to a site where hunters wait to kill them. Junk food is a popular bait, but commercial “bear attractants” also exist. One New Hampshire hunting store reached out to customers to promote its large inventory of bear bait, which included tubs of cake frosting and 55-gallon drums of caramel sauce.
Most of the bears hunted in New Hampshire are killed over bait. During the 2019 hunting season, 54% of the bears killed by hunters were killed over bait.
From the NH Fish and Game Department’s hunting statistics for 2019:
“Continued increased participation in baiting and hound hunting has been evident for several years and has resulted in a declining percentage of the annual harvest taken via still hunting.”
An Inconsistent Message — At the same time that the Department permits bear baiting, they regularly issue public notices urging residents and tourists to eliminate bear attractants, by securing garbage, removing bird feeders, and so on.
From a notice issued by NH Fish and Game on July 31, 2020:
“Bears are much better off in the wild, and we need to do our part to not entice them near people with food attractants…
…Finally, never deliberately feed bears. You will be encouraging these animals to rely on human-related foods which will deteriorate their wild behavior and reduce their chances of survival.”
Another repugnant form of hunting that is legal in New Hampshire is bear hounding.
Hounding involves hunters using packs of dogs to pursue bears until the exhausted animals either seek refuge in a tree (where they are shot) or turn to fight the hounds. Hounding often results in both bears and dogs being injured or killed.
Although less popular than bear baiting (where all you need is a drum of caramel sauce, apparently), bear hounding is nonetheless on the rise in New Hampshire.
From the NH Fish and Game hunting statistics for 2019:
“…the growing popularity of hunting bears with bait, and to a lesser extent hounds, has resulted in higher hunter success rates thereby increasing harvest levels.”
Did you know that the Umbagog National Wildlife Refuge in Errol, New Hampshire has a hunting season that matches the rest of the state?
It seems the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service doesn’t understand that “refuge” means “safe place sheltered from pursuit, danger, or trouble.”
Fortunately, fur trapping is prohibited on the refuge, although attempts have been made to allow it. NHARL along with other animal advocacy groups have successfully blocked these attempts, and we will continue to do whatever is necessary to make certain trapping is never allowed in this magical wilderness.
NHARL is a non-profit, public charity registered with the State of New Hampshire. We are a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) humane organization.
NH Animal Rights League
P.O. Box 4211
Concord, NH 03023-4211
© 2020 New Hampshire Animal Rights League