Reactions were mixed to a Fur-Free Friday protest by about 20 demonstrators in downtown Salt Lake City on the first official day of the Christmas shopping season.
"I hope they make a difference," said Brigham Young University student Michael Sandberg, who walked by the protesters near 50 S. Main Street. "I adore animals myself, and I don't see any point in this day and age of killing a living creature to warm our bodies when we have the technology to make other materials."But Lorin Anderson, of Denver, put his arm protectively around his fur-jacket-clad wife, Bonnie, as they walked silently past the protesters.
"They can say what they want. That's what this country's all about," Anderson said. "But that also gives my wife the right to wear a fur coat if she wants." He said endangered species should be protected, but ranch fur animals are raised for that purpose. "I think the earth was given to man to use. Animal rights, I think, in this sense is not a good thing."
The local protest was part of a national anti-fur event, which featured a march down New York's Fifth Avenue led by television host Bob Barker. A Pennsylvania-based group called Trans-Species Unlimited coordinated the day's activities, in which several animal rights groups participated.
This is the third year that local animal rights activists have demonstrated, said local coordinator Trudy Carter. She emphasized that they were not singling out any one store but were protesting all stores that sell furs. They showed a videotape featuring actress Loretta Swit, wore and carried signs and passed out literature.
Carter said 17 million animals are trapped for their fur each year in the United States, and another 5 million "non-target" animals are also caught in the traps. She said 5 million fur animals are raised on ranches.
The protesters oppose not only the trapping of animals, especially with the steel-jawed leg-hold trap that Carter said 65 countries have already outlawed, but also the raising of animals for their fur.
"Just because they call it `ranch-raised' does not mean there is in any way compassion toward the animals," Carter said. Literature she provided told how foxes and other large animals are often killed by electrocution, with one electrical cable clamped to the animal's mouth and another inserted into its rectum. Other killing methods include asphyxiation with carbon monoxide, poisoning the animal or breaking its neck manually or with mechanical devices.
Beavers are drowned in underwater traps, and it can take 20 minutes for the animal to die, during which it suffers horribly, she said.
Asked whether fur opponents must become vegetarians and give up wearing leather shoes to be consistent, protester Carolyn Ivie said, "I think you have to start somewhere. I think the ideal is to be vegetarian and not wear animal products at all, but I think fur is the logical place to start. Furs are not necessary."
"It's just a fashion statement. It's really not necessary for animals to live and die like that," said Elizabeth Wilson, another demonstrator.