There are few laws regulating the keeping, handling or killing of cage-raised fur-bearing animals in Canada. The majority of regulations are entirely voluntary and simply reflect the standard practices used to make the most possible profit off of each animal with the least possible amount of input and care.
Also, there is no independent monitoring to ensure fur farmed animals are being cared for humanely.
So while the Fur Institute of Canada explains that fur farmers “operate under provincial and territorial legislation and Codes of Practice covering animal welfare”, what they fail to mention is that these laws are woefully inadequate and are largely unenforceable.
Below is an overview of existing provincial fur farm acts:
British Columbia - This fur farm act primarily relates to licensing and registration. There is nothing in this act to protect animals on fur farms or to raise environmental standards. A person convicted of an offence under BC's fur farm act is liable to a fine of not more than $50.
Alberta - This fur farm act primarily relates to licenses, permits and registration. There is nothing in this act to protect animals on fur farms or to raise environmental standards.
Saskatchewan - This fur farm act primarily relates to licensing, permits and reporting. However, section 14 mentions "animal care and handling" claiming that fur-bearing animals must be treated "humanely". Sadly, no definition of "humane" is provided, which essentially makes this law unenforceable.
Ontario - This fur farm act primarily relates to record keeping. There are no laws in this act that relate to animal care or environmental standards for Ontario fur farms.
Newfoundland - This fur farm act relates primarily to licensing, security and reporting. There are no laws relating to animal care or environmental standards for fur farms.
Nova Scotia - This was the first (and only) province to establish fur farming regulations specifically addressing environmental concerns. Criticism still surrounds issues related to animal care and enforcement of this act remains of great concern to local residents.
There is no specific legislation relating to fur farms in Manitoba, New Brunswick, Quebec, Prince Edward Island, Yukon, Nunavut and the Northwest Territories.
In addition to the lack of provincial legislation, the fur industry has a completely voluntary set of national "codes of conduct" related to the care and handling of animals.
The “Recommended Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Ranched Fox” suggests foxes should be killed by anal electrocution. Probes are inserted into the anus and mouth and an electric current is delivered for a minimum of 5 seconds. Other suggested methods of killing foxes include poison (barbiturates overdose) and carbon monoxide poisoning.
The “Recommended Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Mink” suggests mink should be killed by carbon monoxide.
For a brief overview of the history of fur farming in Canada, click here.
Photo: Mink farm, Joanne McArthur