Starving foxes were forced to feed on the rotting corpses of others, an investigation by animal rights charity has found, highlighting the brutal conditions the animals are subjected to on fur farms in Poland.
Open Cages, a British animal welfare charity, was probing a complaint of animal cruelty after a local NGO informed it about a dozen foxes who were seen walking slowly in the suburbs of Krotoszyn, a town in central Poland.
Upon its visit to the farm on 30 October, the group found not only the bodies of foxes but also of dogs who were locked in cages.
“Injuries on some animals indicate that they were bitten by cage mates,” said Open Cages.
“Cannibalism is common on fur farms, but these foxes had been left without food which made it worse,” Connor Jackson, the chief executive of Open Cages told The Independent.
The investigation found about 130 foxes lying in the cages, and most of them died of electrocution. The animal rights group, however, added that it is unclear at the moment, who killed them and when.
“By now we know how depraved the fur industry is, but even this came as a huge shock,” said Mr Jackson. “I cannot imagine the agony these foxes have had to endure just for a fur trim on a coat.”
“There were also holes dug in the ground under the fences, which were probably the way the animals escaped,” said Open Cages in their report. “The animals were deprived of care for at least a few or even a dozen or so days - the owner of the farm is in prison and there was no contact with the person appointed by him to take care of the animals."
About 18 foxes have been saved, in what has been dubbed by the organisation as “largest intervention on a fur farm in Poland.”
The Polish government in September had announced a proposal to ban fur farming, which has since been approved by the members of parliament of both the upper house and the lower house but it has not yet been implemented. Poland’s ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party aims to bring the ban into force within one year after it has been signed by the President.
The legislation would prohibit the farming of mink, semiaquatic mammals prized for their fur, and put in place a range of protections for other animals.
But the fur producers have opposed the legislation on the grounds it would kill an entire industry on which thousands of livelihoods depend. The sector employs about 50,000 people in the country.
Defending the move, the party said it is incorrect to say they are getting rid of an agricultural branch, as some opponents had characterised the ban.
“No one is banning farmers from raising pigs and cows. This is simply a ban of the inhumane murder of these animals,” said PiS member of parliament Marek Suski during a debate in the lower house of the parliament.
According to PETA, Poland is the world’s third-largest fur producer, after China and Denmark, and the ban will spare the lives of the more than 8 million animals who are raised and violently killed for their fur in the country every year.