Mod Not Serious About Humane ‘Bearskin’ Caps, Says PETA

Mike Hancock MP Tables Questions for Secretary of State for Defence,  Reveals Two Decades of Poor Excuses

For Immediate Release:
14 June 2006

Anita Singh 020 7357 9229, ext 228
Karen Chisholm 020 7357 9229, ext 229

London – Tabled questions in the House of Commons by Mike Hancock, MP for Portsmouth South, this week reveal the shocking lack of initiative by the Ministry of Defence to move towards a replacement of the cruel bearskin caps which are worn by the queen’s five guards regiments. When asked if he would make it a policy to use synthetic materials instead of animal fur, Secretary of State for Defence Adam Ingram stated, “If an alternative is sourced and found to be fit for purpose, replacement of bearskins will be considered”. What Mr Ingram failed to point out is that this line has been used by the MoD for two decades, as it contributes over £321,000 in five years alone on the slaughter of black bears for the ceremonial caps and continues to move at a snail’s pace to actively look for a replacement.

For nearly two centuries, the MoD has waged a war on black bears while doing nothing to further the search for synthetic materials. Yet when presented with high-tech synthetic materials by PETA – sourced from leading faux-fur manufacturers around the world and made to the MoD’s own specifications – the MoD is quick to make comments about the faux material like that it “lacks life” and “doesn’t bounce back”. It can take the entire hide of one bear to make just one guard’s headpiece. The skins come from bears shot in Canada, many of whom are shot several times before they die. Some escape the hunters and bleed to death. When mother bears are killed, orphaned cubs are left behind to starve.

“With the resources, science and technology at the disposal of the MoD, it is inexcusable that the same army which is capable of building some of the most sophisticated equipment and machinery in the world claims it is unable to find a synthetic replacement for bearskins after two decades of ‘searching’ and despite the wide availability of luxurious synthetic materials”, says PETA Campaign Coordinator Anita Singh.

87 per cent of the British public is against the use of fur, and fur farming is banned by the same government which now refuses to give up real bear pelts. The ornamental caps serve no military purpose whatsoever – as one of the 175 MPs who support EDM 1756, which calls for a switch to a humane material in place of bearskins, has pointed out, they are not even bullet-proof.

For more information, please visit Video footage of bear hunting is available upon request.