Conservation and Trapping Science

Ann Arbor gives initial OK to BAN FUR in town
Aug 3, 2021 19:05 ET

[Reprinted from original]

ANN ARBOR, MI — The sale of fur products will be banned in Ann Arbor under a new ordinance awaiting final approval.

City Council voted unanimously in favor of the measure at first reading Monday night, Aug. 2, as animal rights groups championed it as a stand against animal cruelty.

The proposed law sponsored by Council Members Erica Briggs and Jeff Hayner is now due for final approval at council’s Aug. 16 meeting, when there will be a public hearing.

“Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a person may not sell, offer for sale, display for sale, trade, or otherwise distribute for monetary or non-monetary consideration a new fur product in the city,” the proposed ordinance states.

It prescribes a $500 penalty for each violation.

The ordinance lists some allowable exemptions, including used fur products such as those sold by vintage and second-hand clothing stores, and fur products used for traditional tribal, cultural or spiritual purposes by Native Americans, or fur products used in practicing religion.

The reasons for the fur ban are articulated in detail in the ordinance.

“Animals that are slaughtered for their fur endure tremendous suffering,” it states. “Animals raised on fur farms typically spend their entire lives in cramped unsanitary cages. Animals raised on fur farms are inhumanely killed by suffocation, electrocution, gassing and neck-breaking. Animals trapped in their native habitats are subject to ensnarement in foothold traps, body-gripping straps, snares and cable restraints for multiple days.”

Additionally, fur farms can spread dangerous diseases, including coronavirus, that threaten public health, it states.

Another reason for the ordinance is fur production is energy intensive and has a significant environmental impact, causing air and water pollution, with tanning and dying processes using toxic chemicals and heavy metals, the ordinance states.

“Considering the availability of faux fur for fashion and apparel, the City Council finds that the demand for fur products does not justify the unnecessary killing and cruel treatment of animals, harm to the environment, and the public health risks to the people of the city of Ann Arbor caused by these practices,” it states. “The City Council believes that prohibiting the sale of fur products in the city of Ann Arbor will decrease the demand for these cruel and environmentally harmful products and promote community awareness of animal welfare and will foster a more humane environment in the city of Ann Arbor.”

Hayner, D-1st Ward, thanked the city attorney’s office and representatives from the local and national Humane Societies for their help with the ordinance.

“Maybe 100 years ago we had a need for this kind of thing,” Hayner said of fur products. “The times have changed. Our environment has changed. Our relationships with the environment need to change.”

Hayner also thanked local retailers who sell fur for suggesting some changes to the ordinance. It was revised so the ban would not take effect for one year, allowing retailers time to sell existing inventory and keep existing order commitments.

“And we’re talking about Canada Goose products here,” Hayner said, referring to the maker of winter coats that has committed to ceasing use of fur by the end of 2022. “It’s sweeping the fashion industry ... so it’s just another opportunity for us to provide the kind of protections for our animal friends that we like to provide for our human friends.”

Council Member Travis Radina, D-3rd Ward, said council heard from Bivouac, a State Street clothing retailer, about the impact the ban would have on the store if it wasn’t able to sell its remaining stock of fur products. Radina said he appreciated the city attorney’s office working over the weekend on changes to address that, giving them a year.

The initial version said six months, said Council Member Ali Ramlawi, D-5th Ward.

The fur ban helps align community values to policy and it’s good to see, Ramlawi said.

“Unfortunately with the online commerce, I don’t think we’re going to stamp out all of this trade of real fur,” he said.

The city’s ordinance will be really important legislation for the Midwest, said Briggs, D-5th Ward, who said animal welfare issues are a side passion of hers.

“It’s important for the Humane Society to have cities stepping forward and bringing legislation like this, bans like this,” she said. “We don’t have them in the Midwest, and so this is model legislation for other communities.”

Tanya Hilgendorf, CEO of the Humane Society of Huron Valley, was among those who spoke in favor of the fur ban Monday night, saying it sends an important message.

Hilgendorf, an outspoken critic of the city’s deer-cull program, said she hopes it also will be a step toward the city adopting more consistent values and policies around respecting animal life, including “our wild neighbors.”

“As we have known for decades, fur is a not a necessity, but a luxury item or a fashion accessory,” Hilgendorf said. “To make it takes about 100 million wild animals a year that currently live in cramped, dirty cages and are killed in horrible ways. Others are trapped in the wild through cruel leg-hold traps, still perfectly legal in Michigan, where they writhe in pain and fear and chew at their own body parts to get free before someone violently puts an end to their misery.”

The fur industry is one of dozens of outdated industries that cause needless suffering, Hilgendorf said.

“We know through science that animals are our genetic cousins,” she said. “We share the same central nervous system and hormones. And just like us, they feel pain, experience a range of emotions, and can solve complex problems. Just as you see with your pets, they have personalities, likes and dislikes, and family and friends. Animals are not products, numbers or taxonomies. They are individuals.”

Discouraging the fur trade will help the fight against cruel exploitation for financial gain or entertainment, she said.

Molly Tamulevich, state director for the Humane Society of the United States, and Bee Friedlander, Attorneys for Animals Inc. board president, also spoke in favor of the ordinance.

The ordinance defines fur as “any animal skin or part thereof with hair, fleece or fur fibers attached thereto, either in its raw or processed state,” and defines fur products as “any article of clothing or covering for any part of the body, or any fashion accessory, including but not limited to handbags, shoes, slippers, hats, earmuffs, scarves, shawls, gloves, jewelry, keychains, toys or trinkets, and home accessories and décor, that is made in whole or part of fur.”

Per the ordinance definition, fur products do not include cowhide, deer skin or lamb skin with the hair attached, nor the pelt or skin of any animal preserved through taxidermy, nor any animal skin converted into leather or processed in a way that removes the hair, fleece or fur fiber completely.

Hayner said he’s heard from people in the trapping industry and received some not-so-pleasant emails and phone calls, but he noted the city is not outlawing trapping.

“But you will note that Washtenaw County earlier this year, not too long ago, they banned these group hunts and things like that, and so this is the way the world is headed,” Hayner said. “We’re headed into a direction of more compassion to our environment hopefully. And in the midst of the sixth great extinction, it’s the least we can do.”