British guards continue to wear bearskin caps, despite opposition

black bear cub makefurhistoryAn additional 127 bearskin caps were ordered by the British Ministry of Defence (MoD), again casting a spotlight on the traditional heard gear of Buckingham Palace guardsmen.

The Independent this week reported on the data, following more complaints by local animal advocates. The black bear skins – with fur attached – come from Canadian bears, though the MoD will not reveal their Canadian supplier.

“Bearskins have been worn by British soldiers for 200 years, to symbolise the victory over Napoleon’s bearskin-wearing Imperial Guard at the battle of Waterloo in 1815,” the Independent reported. They also cited a statement from MoD staff who have said they are unable to find a synthetic alternative.

“The Ministry of Defence does not buy bear pelts – only ceremonial caps,” the statement included.

This is the same logic used by companies like Canada Goose, who attempt to dismiss any criticism of their choices by stating they do not trap coyotes, they merely buy pelts from trappers. It is a strawman argument that falls apart with the slightest breath, of course: the animals are killed and skinned because buyers (such as Canada Goose and the Ministry of Defence in England) have created a demand for them.

Alternatives do exist – we know this, because the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, who have long used muskrat fur in their winter caps, found an alternative in a toque, following our campaign targetting their use. Not only did the toques pass obvious safety field tests, but actual members of the RCMP wanted the alternative, as noted by our communication with the command structure.

Mayor of London supports faux fur hats

In recent years top British designers have offered their services to the Ministry of Defence, and even the Mayor of London noted that “he would oppose the synthetic hats if it could be proved ‘that there’s nothing that the bear families like more than the honour of having one of our own paraded around Buckingham Palace on the head of a Guardsman.’”

TAKE ACTION

Please join us in asking the British Ministry of Defence to listen to Canadian voices and utilize a synthetic material for their traditional caps – and help us save the lives of bears across our country. You can send your email to MP Michael Fallon, the Secretary of State for Defence, at DefenceSecretary-Group@mod.uk. Please forward any correspondence you receive to us at fbd@thefurbearers.com.

Sample Letter

Dear Rt. Hon. Michael Fallon,

As a Canadian citizen, I implore you to use your seat in the legislature and as the Secretary of State for Defence to end the use of bearskin in the Buckingham Palace guardsmen uniform. I understand and appreciate the tradition behind these hats, but I have also seen the pain and suffering that bears endure prior to being skinned to adorn such hats.

Our country still gives a voice to the Crown, and I ask that you respect my voice – and the voices of the hundreds of thousands of like-minded Canadians – when I say please, stop creating a demand that leads to the killing of our bears.

Signed,

Your name and contact information


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Established in 1953, The Fur-Bearers is a charitable, non-partisan organization whose goals are to end the commercial fur trade and promote solutions for wildlife coexistence in communities. Your donation is tax-deductible. Charitable registration number: 130006125RR0002

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