What we need is animal welfare, not extremism

Fur has long been a fashion accessory for consumers and an important industry for hunters, gatherers, and responsible entrepreneurs.

If New York legislators get their way, however, there would soon be a total ban on the sale and distribution of fur products in the Empire State.

The bill was introduced last week by Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal (D-Manhattan), which would make New York State the first state to outlaw the sale of animal-based fashion.

The most glaring problem with the ban is that it deprives consumers of fashion choices and ignores evidence on animal conservation. Something fashion icons would agree with.

“The problem with fur,” said fashion icon Karl Lagerfeld in 2015, “for me, as long as people eat meat and wear leather, I don’t get the message.”

Back to the present day, groups such as PETA consider every animal fur sourced to be the result of cruelty. There is no legitimate use of any animal parts.

That ignores the centuries-long tradition of hunting, procuring, and trading that has helped balance natural ecosystems while providing economic livelihood for generations, especially in upstate New York and neighboring Canada.

PETA and its allies believe in the doctrine of animal rights, where no animal products should be used for any reason by humans and indeed animals are equal to humans. That’s opposed to animal welfare, applying scientific evidence to improve the wellbeing of animals while using them for responsible cultivation.

Fur derived from animals is, unlike most clothes made from synthetic materials, naturally resourced, renewable, and biodegradable. 

Hunters, trappers, and fur farmers use evidence-based methods of wildlife conservation to ensure a healthy animal ecosystem. Otherwise, overpopulation, predatory imbalance, and depletion of vegetation would quite literally destroy the environment within a few years. If surplus animal populations are not dealt with, they eat away the crops and resources necessary for the next generation.

The federal government’s Wildlife Services program was set up expressly for this purpose, and it’s why hunters are permitted to hunt species only in particular seasons as deemed necessary by agencies such as the New York Division of Fish and Wildlife.

Responsible wildlife management is a vital part of maintaining our ecosystems, and responsible players in the fur industry have done this. Criminalizing these elements will do more harm than good, and deprive consumers of their fashion choices.

What’s more, New York’s ban will force the existing companies out of business and ultimately underground, creating a black market that will be unregulated without regard for consumer standards and safety. Would anyone benefit from that situation?

Rather than following the whims of activists, we should allow consumers to choose the fashion items they wish to wear and help support a vital fur trade that actively helps support and balance our environment and ecosystems.

That’s the best way we can support both animal welfare and the people who depend on the fur industry, as ‘Kaiser Karl’ would have intended.

Yaël Ossowski is an economic journalist and deputy director of the Consumer Choice Center

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About Yaël Ossowski

Yaël Ossowski is a journalist, activist, and writer. He's currently deputy director at the Consumer Choice Center, and senior development officer for Students For Liberty. He was previously a national investigative reporter and chief Spanish translator at Watchdog.org, and worked at newspapers and television stations across the country. He received a Master’s Degree in Philosophy, Politics, Economics (PPE) at the CEVRO Institute in Prague. Born in Québec and raised in the southern United States, he currently lives in Vienna, Austria.

Los Angeles receives the BAN Award for outlawing animal fur

The City of Los Angeles, California receives the February 2019 BAN Award for being the largest municipality in the United States to outlaw the sale of animal fur, depriving consumers of fashion choices and endorsing a policy that ignores evidence on animal conservation.

The ban is expected to go into full force by 2021, unless the second vote on the matter changes and Mayor Eric Garcetti doesn’t sign the bill. However, because the vote was a 13-1 margin, it is likely to pass.

“Rather than following the evidence on animal conservation, the city council of Los Angeles has blindly succumbed to the wishes of activist animal rights groups who have spread misinformation on the fur trade,” said Yaël Ossowski, deputy director of the Consumer Choice Center, a millennial consumer advocacy group.

“Such a ban will have immediate consequences. First, it deprives consumers of the choice to wear fur or not. Second, it ignores the evidence of vital wildlife conservation for balancing our ecosystems. Last, it will force the existing companies out of business and underground, creating a black market that will be unregulated without regard for consumer standards and safety,” said Ossowski.

“Responsible wildlife management is a vital part of maintaining our ecosystems, and responsible players in the fur industry have done this. Criminalizing these elements will do more harm than good, and deprive consumers of their fashion choices.

“Making the buying and selling of fur an illegal act is anti-consumer, anti-free expression, and a huge blow to legitimate animal welfare efforts,” said Ossowski.

“Rather than following the whims of activists, municipalities should allow consumers to choose the fashion items they wish to wear, whether those be made of fur or not, and help support a vital fur trade that actively helps support and balance our environment and ecosystems.”

About the BAN Award:

Every month the Consumer Choice Center awards an institution, person, or organization with the Bureau of Nannyism or short BAN Award. The BAN Awards recognize the work of an individual or organization that has made major contributions to advocating limits on consumer choice. This award serves to recognize extraordinary abilities in disregarding consumers and evidence-based public policy. The award was created by the Consumer Choice Center to draw attention to the important role politicians, lobbies, and advocates play in limiting consumers’ choice and ignoring them in the policymaking process.

Selection criteria: The Bureau of Nannyism (BAN) is a group of consumer choice advocates that discuss nominations on a monthly base and award the nominee with the most innovative or most blunt actions against consumer choice with the BAN award.

The CCC represents consumers in over 100 countries across the globe. We closely monitor regulatory trends in Ottawa, Washington, Brussels, Geneva and other hotspots of regulation and inform and activate consumers to fight for #ConsumerChoice. Learn more at consumerchoicecenter.org.

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About Yaël Ossowski

Yaël Ossowski is a journalist, activist, and writer. He's currently deputy director at the Consumer Choice Center, and senior development officer for Students For Liberty. He was previously a national investigative reporter and chief Spanish translator at Watchdog.org, and worked at newspapers and television stations across the country. He received a Master’s Degree in Philosophy, Politics, Economics (PPE) at the CEVRO Institute in Prague. Born in Québec and raised in the southern United States, he currently lives in Vienna, Austria.