FUR INFORMATION COUNCIL OF AMERICA PRESS RELEASE, DECEMBER 12, 2000
WASHINGTON. D.C.: With the return of fur to the fashion spotlight and retail fur sales running about 20 per cent ahead of last year, animal-rights lobby groups are spinning increasingly obscure stories to attract media attention. The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), which collects some $50 million a year from well-meaning donors, is now calling on consumers to boycott Karakul lamb. The HSUS claims that Karakul lamb production is inhumane. A closer look at the facts suggests that it may be the HSUS campaign that is cruel:
Karakul (“broadtail”) is one of the oldest sheep breeds on earth. These remarkable animals thrive in the arid conditions and extreme cold and heat that characterize the Central Asian steppes and Southwest African regions where they are produced. Karakul sheep provide a vital source of food and income for indigenous peoples in these extremely poor and remote regions.
Because of limited pasture and water in Karakul producing regions, only a small number of lambs can be kept and raised to maturity. As documented by sworn affidavits from the producing regions, the sheep and lambs are killed in accordance with humane standards for their meat and other products including pelts, leather, wool (for carpets and felt) and tallow. In Muslim areas, including Uzbekistan, slaughtering methods for animals used for food are also governed by strict religious principles that are intended to assure humane treatment of animals. (This was confirmed by the Muslim Institute, in London, England.)
NBC Dateline recently reported on HSUS’s claim that “Russian broadtail” is produced from unborn lambs. While no one disputes that ewes are slaughtered when they are too old to be bred again, it is absurd to suggest that farmers would systematically kill valuable breeding stock just to obtain the pelts of unborn lambs. Ewes provide many lambs through their productive years.
Video segments broadcast by Dateline in fact showed healthy, active animals being raised in well-managed livestock facilities run by people who are proud of their sheep. These animals provide sustenance for people living in some of the most remote and rugged regions on the planet. To its credit, Dateline also pointed out that the HSUS is against use of any animal products for fashion.
“We find it shocking and irresponsible that the Humane Society of the United States would urge consumers to boycott one of the few products people in such remote and rugged regions have to trade,” said Diva Lynch, Interim Executive Director of the Fur Information Council of America (FICA). “How can any group call themselves ‘humane’ while attacking the livelihoods of poor people who have no opportunity to tell their side of the story? This campaign appears be more about wealthy lobby groups seeking publicity than about helping either people or sheep.” The HSUS was recently cited by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES, the world’s most important conservation organization) for circulating allegations regarding illegal ivory trading that could not be substantiated. (CITES Notification 2000/060)
The US fur trade is a well-regulated industry committed to humane standards and based on the sustainable use of abundant, renewable natural resources.
FICA is a non-profit trade association representing US fur retailers and manufacturers.
Karakul References of Specific Relevance to This Report
- Statement from Uzbek Karakul Company re: NBC Dateline report. (Feb. 22, 2001)
- Transcript of NBC Dateline report on karakul production
- Statement in Lieu of an Oath Concerning the Nature of Karakul Fur Production, by Nugman Hodjaevich Zulpetdinov, chief of Uzbek Republican Production Union “Karakul”. (Aug. 16, 1991)
Karakul References – General
- American Karakul Sheep Registry
- Helping Hands to Restore Livestock Production in Central Asia By Dr. Luis Iniguez, Natural Resource Management Program, International Center for Agricultural research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA). Recommended.
- Oklahoma State University Breeds of sheep / Karakul
- CITES Notification 2000/060 Findings re: HSUS allegation of massive ivory smuggling.
- Humane Society of the United States – The “Truth” About Karakul Lamb Fur HSUS’s own website.
- Dateline noted that HSUS is committed to its “Fur-Free 2000” campaign, aimed at eliminating organic-based fur products and replacing them with synthetics. For more info, see Ho, Ho, Ho! Plastic Santas? FCUSA commentary. (Nov. 20, 1998)
- FCUSA Press Kit Special Feature : HSUS Furry Trade-Barrier Campaign
- For background on the HSUS, see special report by the Capital Research Center.
- Producers, Consumers and Clothing Confusion Is fur production really separate from the human food chain? Is sheepskin really a “by-product”? FCUSA commentary. (Dec. 11, 2000)
- Saving Society from Animal “Snuff” Films FCUSA commentary on faked or misleading film footage provided by animal rights groups. (Dec. 15, 1998, updated February 2004)