A new PETA US investigation undertaken in Ontario, Canada, filmed hunters luring bears to a drum baited with cookies, bagels, and greasy foods before shooting and disembowelling them. Hunters later skin the bears and may sell their fur – the very fur that’s used to make the King’s Guard’s caps that PETA has demanded be replaced with faux fur. PETA showed the footage to Stephen Fry, who is now helping expose this extreme cruelty and its link to the King’s Guard’s caps.

Bears Lured With Cookies, Shot With Crossbows

Baiting bears is banned in parts of North America and condemned by conservation groups as being cruel and “unsportsmanlike”, but this new disturbing exposé shows hunters luring bears close with buckets of sweet or greasy food before shooting the unsuspecting animals with crossbows – a form of hunting that has been illegal in the UK since 1981 under wildlife protection laws.

A Slow, Painful Death From Blood Loss

As the investigator witnessed, bears who are shot don’t always die outright. They may flee and endure a slow and hideously painful death from infection or blood loss – sometimes hunters only find them hours later, if they even bother to follow the bloody trail. During spring hunts, nursing mothers may be among those killed, leaving behind cubs who are unable to survive without them and starve.

Fur Sold to the Ministry of Defence

Once hunters have slaughtered the bears, they may keep parts of their bodies, such as the head or claws, as trophies they imagine to be “macho” and sell or auction off the fur. The Ministry of Defence (MoD) capmakers buy the fur of hunted black bears and use it to make the headgear worn by the King’s Guard.

PETA has provided defence minister Grant Shapps with the footage and called on the MoD to stop supporting this barbaric industry, which is entirely at odds with UK public opinion – 95% of British people say they reject fur. PETA and faux furrier ECOPEL have developed a faux fur that meets each of the MoD’s criteria for a replacement for the caps, yet the ministry has dug in its heels and apparently needs a public uproar before it will make the switch.

498 Bears Killed in Just Six Years

It takes the skin of at least one bear – each one an individual with thoughts, feelings, and the desire to live – to make a single cap. According to public records obtained by PETA, the MoD bought 498 bearskin hats between 2017 and 2022.

The Origins of the Bearskin Caps

The MoD has frequently and entirely disingenuously claimed that the bear pelts are a byproduct of a “cull” overseen by Canadian authorities. Yet federal and provincial Canadian governments have confirmed that no such culls exist. The Canadian government issues “tags” to hunting enthusiasts – such as those seen in the footage – who are then free to bait and kill an allotted number of bears and sell their skin. It is a blood sport effectively subsidised by the MoD.

In a desperate attempt to defend the indefensible, the MoD has now aligned itself with Furmark, a misleading certification scheme set up by the commercial fur industry that exists solely to protect the interests of fur farmers and hunters and to promote the (rapidly declining) use of fur in fashion. Even former British Fur Trade Association CEO Mike Moser called Furmark a “meaningless” scheme that seeks to “sugar-coat the truth behind this … cruel trade”.

Faux Bear Fur Is Available Right Now

PETA offered a superior state-of-the-art faux fur produced by luxury faux furrier ECOPEL to the MoD in 2017 and again in 2023, and ECOPEL has committed to supplying the MoD with an unlimited amount for free until 2030. This makes the slaughter of these nearly 500 bears particularly shameful, and furthermore, the MoD is squandering public funds to support the fur trade.

Laboratory tests confirm that ECOPEL’s faux bear fur performs as well as or better than real bear fur against the MoD’s five criteria for a replacement fabric.

“[T]he combination of ECOPEL’s fabric along with a waterproof membrane such as Tyvek will produce a fast-drying, lightweight cap that will be more comfortable and less toxic for the wearer while still conveying the historically important image of the Grenadiers.”

– Atom Cianfarani, independent fabric technologist

Stephen Fry: Fur Caps Bring Dishonour to the UK

The UK government is essentially supporting bait-and-kill hunting of bears.

“Britain has always prided itself on being ‘sporting’, but these bears – lured with cookies to the hunters’ hiding place – stand no chance of survival. Tradition is never an excuse for cruelty, which is why I’m joining the call for the Ministry of Defence to stop using the fur of slaughtered wildlife and make the switch to humane faux fur for the King’s Guard’s caps. To do otherwise would be unconscionable – and un-British.”
– Stephen Fry

What You Can Do

It’s time to modernise this iconic symbol of the UK by switching to a fabulous faux fur that has been tested specifically to ensure its suitability for use by the King’s Guard.

Urge the defence secretary to ditch bearskin in favour of faux fur: