U.S. legislation on fur and leather
The Animal Welfare Act ensures humane treatment of animals but exempts animals used or intended for use as fiber. And the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act requires livestock to be slaughtered humanely to prevent “needless suffering,” which does not extend protection to fur animals.
The Fur Products Labeling Act, 15 U.S.C. § 69, declares that fur products will be considered “misbranded” if “falsely or deceptively labeled” or identified, and/or if the product does not contain a label that legibly shows the name(s) of the animals from which the fur was taken, the name or other identification of the person(s) who manufactured the fur, and the country of origin of the fur.
The Dog and Cat Fur Protection Act, 19 U.S.C. § 1308, prohibits the import, export, and sale of dog and cat fur products in the U.S. The law requires that the Secretary of Treasury submit a report to Congress every year on the government’s enforcement efforts and its ability to do so.
The Endangered Species Act, the Lacey Act, the Fur Seal Act, the Marine Mammal Protection Act form the framework of the wildlife protection on fur and leather as the action of “taking” the body of the wild animals.
The Endangered Species Act, 16 U.S.C. §§ 1531-1541, works to develop conservation programs to protect endangered and threatened species, acknowledges the U.S.’ commitment to conserving, as much as practical, wildlife under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (“CITES”), and encourages states to create conservation programs (with federal financial assistance) that meet national and international conservation standards.
The Lacey Act, 16 U.S.C. §§ 3371-3378, prohibits wildlife trade in animals that have been illegally taken, possessed, transported, or sold.
The Fur Seal Act, 16 U.S.C. §§ 1151-1187, makes it illegal to take North Pacific fur seals anywhere in the U.S. and mandates the Secretary of Commerce to regulate the fur seal breeding colonies on the Pribilof Islands, (part of Alaska), to ensure that activities on the Islands do not deter the conservation of the North Pacific fur seals.
The Marine Mammal Protection Act, (“MMPA”) 16 U.S.C. §§ 1361 - 1421h, was created to protect marine mammals that are in danger of extinction or depletion because of human activities; the Act applies to mammals that primarily live in the water and to all parts of the mammal, including its fur.
On the state level, fur and leather are regulated under trapping and hunting law, labeling laws, and cat and dog fur laws. Some states regulate fur farming as agricultural activities of “livestock” and some regulate fur farming as domestic animals. However, according to a report published by Born Free USA in 2009, many states allow fur farms to be unregulated.
In May 2019, hundreds of furriers, workers, and environmentalists rallied at City Hall Tuesday to voice their opposition to a City Council proposal to ban the sale of real fur and shearling ahead of a public hearing. They argue a fur ban would have a devastating impact on New York City, shuttering hundreds of small businesses, putting thousands out of work, infringing on consumer choice, and harming the environment.
California became the first US state to ban the sale and manufacture of new fur products in October 2019. The law bars residents from selling or making clothing, shoes, or handbags with fur, starting in 2023. The proposal was vigorously opposed by the billion-dollar US fur industry, while the Fur Information Council of America has already threatened to sue.
Learn more about the U.S. law on fur here.