21 Jul 2016

Pest possums' plight prompts protest

3:58 pm on 21 July 2016

Three protesters have stripped off in Christchurch to protest use of possum fur, arguing rights for pest animals are overlooked.

Protesters outside Annah Stretton were aiming to raise awareness of the treatment of pest animals.

Protesters outside Annah Stretton were aiming to raise awareness of the treatment of pest animals. Photo: RNZ / Belinda McCammon

The three People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) protesters stripped down to black briefs, using a sign to maintain their modesty as they targeted the Annah Stretton store in Sydenham, Christchurch, for its use of possum fur.

Campaign co-ordinator Claire Fryer said the largely visual protest was intended to raise the awareness of animals being used for their fur in the fashion industry.

She said because possums were classed as pests they received very little protection under animal welfare laws.

"Which makes it easier for hunters and trappers to kill them in inhumane ways and these animals who, regardless of their status in law, shouldn't suffer for their skins.''

She said culling did not work as a method of population control.

"Possums were brought to this country for their fur and that's what they continue to be used for," she said.

"If New Zealanders really want to reduce the number of possums they'll look at humane methods of population control such as immuno-contraceptive suppressants.''

She said this was the first action taken against Annah Stretton, though they had written to the company in the past.

"We know she does care about animals but we are really hoping she will see there is no such thing as ethically sourced fur.''

Annah Stretton store manager Angela Gilmour said she welcomed the protest but believed it was a little misguided.

"We don't carry fur products and, if we do, they are ethically gained possum fur."

She said the store did not have any fur in stock but did have faux fur vests on display in its window.

"The way we look at it, possums are a pest in New Zealand and we're doing a good job in protecting our native forests and birds. If wearing possum is going to save our forests, then great.''

Ms Gilmour said that if PETA were going to pick on any designer they might as well pick on a more well-known one that was a survivor in the industry.

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