Each year, up to 140 black bears must be culled for the Queen’s Guards to replace their ceremonial headgear.
The Ministry of Defense has rejected a 42,430-signature petition launched by British Got Talent judge Alesha Dixon demanding that artificial fur be used instead.
It recently completed the final of a series of tests on four synthetic fabrics, but the Army has concluded that only real bear fur will do.
Their skins shed water, preventing large headgear from collapsing in the rain. The only faux fur that can be used is on the small Royal Horse Artillery busbies.
Even if suitable faux fur could be found, soldiers who wear bearskins would have the final say on their replacement.
“Any new fabric would need to gain user approval for fit and comfort, in addition to passing initial lab tests,” Defense Equipment Minister Jeremy Quin said.
Each ornamental cap costs £1,710 and is made from the skin of a single black bear.
And the MoD has spent nearly £1million on them over the past seven years, with the highest spend of £240,382 in 2016.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals says it has developed high-performance waterproof faux fur for the headgear and accuses the Ministry of Defense of moving the goalposts on the demands.
“The artificial fur unfortunately did not meet the standards required for a ceremonial cap that is worn all year round and in all weathers,” the MoD said.
“The Ministry of Defense does not plan to use this faux fur fabric.”
However, SNP deputy leader at Westminster Kirsten Oswald believes the MoD should reconsider and make artificial fur available for Trooping of the Color ceremonies next year.
“The UK government is supposed to be committed to high standards of animal welfare,” she continued, “but the Ministry of Defense seems determined to continue using real bearskin no matter what. ‘he is coming.”
“Most Brits are against fur, so it makes no sense that this iconic symbol of the UK is made with real fur,” Alesha Dixon added.
“Bears are never hunted on command,” Mr. Quin said. Our suppliers obtain their pelts from Canadian authorities after an authorized kill as part of a wild bear population management program.
“We found no evidence that any Canadian province has implemented a bear cull program,” said PETA’s Elisa Allen.
“It is legal in some provinces to hunt them with guns, spears and even bows and arrows.”