For perhaps the last 200 years, five regiments of the Queen’s guards — the Grenadier, Welsh, Irish, Scots and Coldstream Guards, who protect Buckingham Palace and other royal sites — have worn real bearskin hats.
(Photo: Guard’s parade at Will & Kate’s wedding, with the guards wearing their bearskin hats)
According to reports, the army’s hat manufacturer buys roughly 100 Canadian black bear skins each year. Approximately one bear is used to make one hat!
To supply these hats, Canadian bears are legally shot or trapped in foot snares across the provinces. What makes these bear killings extremely cruel is that bears who are shot and escape die painfully from blood loss, starvation or infection.
Other bears who are trapped in foot snares suffer excruciating pain because as they struggle, the snare loop tightens and tightens, often cutting into their skin, and cutting off their circulation.
While the UK army has already gotten rid of the beaver hats and leopard skins worn by some of its soldiers and replaced them with artificial materials, the Ministry of Defense is still dragging its heels in regards to the busby (bearskin hat).
Keeping Up The Pressure
For at least the past 10 years, the Association for the Protection of Fur-Bearing Animals has been lobbying the UK Ministry of Defense (MoD), urging them to find a replacement for the bearskin hats.
While some progress has been made (apparently the Ministry has undergone the testing of alternative materials), the MoD claims that they still haven’t found a ‘suitable replacement’ for the busby.
Speak up for the bears!
Help us urge the UK to end the use of Canadian black bears. Write to the UK!
[UK CONTACT / MAILING ADDRESS – see below]
Dear [NAME HERE – see below]
I am writing with great concern over the use of real bearskins for the Queen’s Guards’ ceremonial caps. As you might be aware, it can take the entire hide of one Canadian black bear to make just one hat.
I am appalled to learn that black bears are shot or trapped for these hats, and I encourage you to switch to a fur-free alternative as soon as possible. What efforts can you take to find a suitable alternative?
I look forward to your reply.
[YOUR NAME AND ADDRESS]
The Private Secretary to Her Majesty the Queen
The Private Secretary to His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales
Rt Hon Liam Fox, MP
Secretary of State for Defence
Ministry of Defence, Main Building
Quick black bear facts:
The black bear (Ursus americanus) is the smallest and most widely distributed member of the bear family found in North America.
In Canada, black bears live from coastal British Columbia to Newfoundland.
About one quarter of all black bears live in Canada.
There are between 120,000 and 160,000 black bears in British Columbia.
– a female bear is called a “sow”
– a male bear is called a “boar”
– a group of bears is called a “sloth of bears”