Animal activists are launching a media attack on the Royal Canadian Mounted Police for wearing muskrat hats as part of their winter uniform.

Activist organisation Fur-Bearer Defenders is running newspaper advertisements with images of muskrats in leg-hold traps and the caption 'From Traps To RCMP Hats' to campaign against the use of the pelts.

The RCMP has used muskrat fur as the main component of its standard-issue fur cap for 17 years and maintains that fake fur does not provide as much protection against harsh weather conditions.

Muskrats are rodents common in Canada and the US, and make a major contribution to many trappers' incomes.