By Alisa Mullins
In mid-November, when luxury outerwear company Canada Goose opened a brick-and-mortar store in Soho, its first in the U.S., there were more protesters outside the shop than customers inside. Why the kerfuffle over puffy parkas?
Canada Goose uses down from geese and ducks to insulate its parkas and fur from coyotes to trim the hoods. Obtaining these materials involves horrific cruelty. Coyotes killed for their fur are often caught in steel-jaw traps and may be left to languish for hours or even days (which is often illegal) before the trapper returns to shoot, bludgeon or suffocate them. Trapped animals, especially mothers with babies to care for, have been known to try to chew off their own limbs in an attempt to escape.
Down is often obtained from birds who are “live-plucked.” Workers grab them by the wings or neck, pin them to the ground and rip their feathers out by the fistful. The birds often sustain bloody, gaping wounds, the worst of which are sewn up using a needle and thread without any painkillers. Many endure this abuse several times before finally being slaughtered.
Canada Goose claims to use down only from birds who were slaughtered for their flesh, but PETA eyewitnesses recently spoke to down suppliers who bragged about misleading customers by selling them live-plucked down.
PETA has also documented grotesque abuses at farms that raise ducks for meat and down.
A recent PETA exposé of Culver Duck Farms in Indiana—which bills itself as the second-largest duck slaughterer in the U.S.—revealed shocking cruelty. Video captured by an eyewitness showed workers slamming ducks against brick walls and wooden studs, causing them to cry out between blows, and some were still alive, kicking and flapping their wings, for up to an hour afterward. One worker attempted to kill at least a dozen ducks by wringing their necks or slamming them against a wall, while another pulled a duckling’s head off, an action that the supervisor described as “normal.”
Despite stating on its website that birds are “NOT FACTORY FARMED!!!” Culver crammed up to 4,000 ducks at a time into massive, windowless sheds. They had no opportunity to swim or bathe, even though they would naturally spend most of their time in and around water. The warehouses reeked of ammonia from the ducks’ accumulated waste, which burned their skin and eyes. One duck’s eyes became so coated with mucus that he could barely see.
Culver reportedly slaughters 25,000 ducks every day. Although many of them are injured or lame, they are dumped, kicked or thrown onto trailers and hauled hundreds of miles to slaughter, sometimes during extreme weather conditions.
Ducks and geese need their down, and coyotes need their fur—we don’t. There are numerous high-tech alternatives to down, including Polarguard®, Plumtech®, PrimaLoft®, ThermoBall™, and Thinsulate™, all of which are affordable, innovative and effective. Luxurious faux fur is more in demand now than ever before, and top designers—including Stella McCartney, Vivienne Westwood and Armani, to name just a few—refuse to use any animal fur in their designs. “You really can’t tell the difference [between real and faux fur],” says McCartney. “There’s no reason to kill 15 million innocent creatures.”
Climbers of Mount Everest have worn all-vegan gear. If they can endure the world’s harshest conditions while remaining cruelty-free, surely the rest of us can manage coffee runs and camping trips without harming a hair—or a feather—on an animal’s head.