An­i­mal wel­fare, fash­ion choice should rule fur de­bate

The Buffalo News - - WASHINGTON NEWS - By Yaël Os­sowski Yaël Os­sowski, a writer and ac­tivist, is deputy di­rec­tor of the Con­sumer Choice Cen­ter, which pro­motes “choice and free­dom for con­sumers.” is an is­sues-ori­ented col­umn that ap­pears on the edi­to­rial page each day. Writ­ers must have some b

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 ditri­bu­tion of fur prod­ucts in the Em­pire State.

A bill was in­tro­duced last month by As­sem­bly­woman Linda Rosen­thal, D-Man­hat­tan, which would make New York 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 de­signer 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 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 well-being 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 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.

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. The editorials on this page rep­re­sent the opinion of The Buf­falo News edi­to­rial board. Mem­bers are Pub­lisher and Pres­i­dent War­ren T. Colville; Ed­i­tor Michael K. Con­nelly; Edi­to­rial Page Ed­i­tor Kevin S. Wal­ter; and edi­to­rial writ­ers Dawn Marie Bracely and Greg Con­nors.

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