Australian fox fur - the environmentally friendly alternative?

The Sporting Shooters’ Association of Australia (SSAA) Inc is calling on its members, fashion designers, retail stores and the government to promote European fox fur from Australia as an environmentally friendly fur alternative. The fox is one of the most destructive pest animals introduced into Australia. The fox has had a detrimental impact on Australian wildlife since its introduction and will continue to decimate wildlife into the future until their numbers are reduced.

The SSAA believes that the utilisation of fox pelts from both commercial and non-commercial fox hunters should be promoted in a fashion similar to ‘Eco Fur’ products in New Zealand. New Zealand has major environmental problems due to the introduced Australian brush-tail possum. ‘Eco Fur’ is promoted and supported by the New Zealand Department of Conservation and is also encouraged by many conservation groups. The use and resultant sale of possum fur products plays an important role in preserving the country’s natural beauty by conserving New Zealand’s flora and fauna.

In Australia, research has shown that the fox normally consumes approximately 30 per cent wildlife in its diet. A single fox can consume around 40kg of small native animals per year. This accounts for a very large number of native animals lost each year, particularly when the current fox population in Australia has been estimated at 7.2 million. That’s a potential of at least 288,000 tonnes of native animals killed and consumed by foxes each year. This is equivalent to 6900 fully loaded semi-trailers, which if parked bumper-to-bumper in a straight line would stretch 104km.

The use of animal fur has been a contentious issue for a many years, mainly due to animal activists. They can be held partly responsible for the previous collapse of the Australian fox fur industry from its peak in the mid-1980s. The subsequent decreased demand and lower export prices for pelts reduced the commercial harvesting interest. The reduced hunting pressure on the fox for fur is certainly one reason behind an explosion in fox numbers that is now decimating our native species.

While animal rights activists now target and attempt to discredit all fur-farming practices in overseas countries, the key issue for the acceptance of fur by the general public is assuring a humane supply chain. Foxes taken from the wild in Australia are dispatched instantaneously using a firearm out in the field. They are not caged or raised in farms. This process is one of the most humane ways to begin any fur supply chain.

Promotion of Australia fox fur will lead to an increase in demand and this will potentially lead to higher export prices, resulting in additional economic benefit for the community. The environmental benefit will be the reduction of fox numbers due to increased hunting pressure and the reduction of the fox’s impact on native animals.

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