MICHIGAN— This evening, the city council for Ann Arbor, Michigan voted unanimously to become the first city in the Midwest to ban the sale of new fur products. Ann Arbor is also the first city in a fur-producing state to ban fur sales. The ordinance includes a one-year phase out and exemptions for used fur, fur used by tribal communities, and pelts from cows, sheep and deer.
Molly Tamulevich, Michigan state director for the Humane Society of the United States, said: “Ann Arbor has now become the Midwest leader in the fight against the fur industry. Cities should rightfully align their laws with the values of their constituents, and it’s clear the people of Ann Arbor care about animals and want nothing to do with fur.”
According to 2017 Economic Census Data, Michigan’s fur retail sales were a little over $20 million, which represents 3.5% of all U.S. fur sales and ranks the state sixth in the country. Michigan’s fur sales account for .01% of the state’s total retail sales.
In 2019, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported that Michigan produced 65,000 mink pelts, making the state the seventh highest fur producer in the U.S. Last year, the number of mink killed for their fur in the U.S. dropped 49% to 1.4 million, the lowest number on record.
In October 2020, mink on a fur farm in Michigan became infected with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, after it was reported that several of the mink had died. Similar outbreaks have occurred on more than 430 mink fur farms in Wisconsin, Utah, Oregon, Canada and Europe. More than 20 million mink were killed in response to the outbreaks, and several countries have suspended or completely ended mink fur production. Mink fur farms can incubate dangerous mutations that could potentially undermine the efficacy of vaccines.
Earlier this year, the Detroit Free Press reported a Michigan taxidermist became infected with a variant of COVID-19 found in infected mink, noting that it was possible that the mutation came from mink on fur farms. Mink are especially susceptible to SARS-CoV-2, and the virus can jump back and forth between mink and humans, as well as from farmed mink to wild populations.
Ann Arbor city council member Jeff Hayner said in a previous hearing, “Maybe 100 years ago we had a need for this kind of thing. The times have changed. Our environment has changed. Our relationships with the environment need to change.”
California banned fur sales in 2019 following similar measures in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Berkeley and West Hollywood. Wellesley and Weston, Massachusetts have since voted to end fur sales, and the Massachusetts legislature is now considering a fur sales ban of its own. Internationally, Israel banned fur sales earlier this year and the United Kingdom is looking to do the same.
In 2021, Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, Canada Goose, Valentino, Oscar de la Renta, Tory Burch, Alexander McQueen and Balenciaga have announced fur-free policies joining top fashion brands and retailers Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s, Nordstrom, Prada, Gucci, Armani, Versace, Michael Kors, DKNY, Burberry, Chanel and many more.
- Emily Snow Ehrhorn