Video: Stephen Fry Exposes Bear Hunting Cruelty – and PETA Points to Its Link to the King’s Guard’s Caps

Video: Stephen Fry Exposes Bear Hunting Cruelty – and PETA Points to Its Link to the King’s Guard’s Caps

London – Stephen Fry has teamed up with PETA to release a new video exposé filmed in Canada, where the bearskins used to make the King’s Guard’s caps originate, revealing how black bears are shot, disembowelled, and dismembered by hunters. The upsetting footage shows hunters deliberately baiting the bears with buckets of smelly, 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. The bears’ body parts are then often kept as trophies, and their fur is auctioned off to buyers including the Ministry of Defence’s (MoD) cap makers, who use them 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 public opinion – 95% of British people say they reject fur. The group has also shared the footage with King Charles and asked him to support a switch to faux fur.

The MoD has frequently and 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, who are then free to bait and kill an allotted number of bears for recreation and sell their skins. The MoD then aligned itself with Furmark, a commercial fur industry accreditation scheme that exists solely to defend the interests of fur farmers and hunters and promote the (rapidly declining) use of fur in fashion.

“Britain has always prided itself on being ‘sporting’, but these bears – lured with cookies to the hunters’ hiding place – stand no chance of survival,” says Fry. “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.”

As noted by the investigator, bears who are shot don’t always die outright. They may flee and endure a slow, painful death from infection or blood loss, only to be found hours later after the hunters follow their bloody trail. During spring hunts, nursing mothers may be among those killed, leaving behind cubs who starve to death without them.

“The UK government is sponsoring bait-and-kill sport hunting of bears,” says PETA Senior Campaign Manager Kate Werner. “It’s time to modernise this iconic symbol of Britain by switching to a fabulous faux fur that has been tested specifically to ensure its suitability for use by the King’s Guard.”

It takes the skin of at least one bear to make a single cap. According to public records obtained by PETA, the MoD purchased 498 bearskin hats between 2017 and 2022. PETA first offered the Ministry a superior faux fur produced by luxury faux furrier ECOPEL in 2017, and ECOPEL has committed to supplying an unlimited amount for free until 2030. This makes the death of these nearly 500 bears particularly shameful and unnecessary.

PETA – whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to wear” – opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview. For more information about PETA’s investigative newsgathering and reporting, please visit or follow the group on Facebook, X (formerly Twitter), TikTok, or Instagram.


Jennifer White +44 (0) 20 7837 6327; [email protected]