PETA is calling on retailers and consumers to boycott wool products

PETA is calling on retailers and consumers to boycott wool products

Retailers and consumers are being urged by animal rights activists to boycott wool products after an investigation is said to have exposed a series of violations in the industry.

Video footage revealed by animal rights group PETA in the US and Australia - the source of 90% of the world's merino wool - shows sheep being violently abused during shearing, live export and mulesing. The violations took place at 19 shearing sheds in Australia and at 14 US farms in Wyoming, Colorado and Nebraska, according to PETA. 

The pressure group says it is calling on retailers to stop selling wool products, while PETA US has asked state and local law-enforcement agencies to investigate and file criminal charges against the offenders. 

"PETA is calling on shoppers around the world to reject cruelty to animals - and that means never buying wool," added PETA UK associate director Mimi Bekhechi.

The footage has been condemned by a number of industry groups.

Australian Wool Innovation (AWI), a research, development and marketing organisation for the Australian wool industry, said it "categorically" and "unequivocally" condemns the mistreatment of animals.

In a statement sent to just-style, it added: "AWI has invested AUD2.8m (US$2.6m) in the training of shearers and shedhands in world's best practise animal welfare in the last year alone and over AUD$7m in the last five years."

While a spokesperson for the American Sheep Industry Association (ASI) described the footage as "unacceptable". In a statement, the group said: "Farmers and ranchers who raise sheep in the United States take great pride in the care they provide for their animals and do not condone or defend mistreatment or abuse of sheep either intentionally or unintentionally."

Sheep must be shorn regularly to prevent predator and parasite attacks, it explained. The ASI added that it promotes and encourages the training of proper sheep handling and shearing.

The latest allegations come after PETA most recently led a campaign to boycott angora - which saw a number of fashion brands and retailers ban the use of the fibre.

After being shown "shocking" conditions at farms in China - where 90% of the world's angora wool is sourced - retailers including Arcadia Group (which includes BHS, Burton, Dorothy Perkins, Evans, Miss Selfridge, Outfit, Topman, Topshop and Wallis), Debenhams, Forever 21, H&MLands' EndMarks & SpencerNew Look, Next and Primark pledged to keep angora out of their future collections.

C&AEspritFrench ConnectionGap Inc and Zara have also suspended angora production, but have not committed to keeping it out of future collections.