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Home >> Business
UPDATED: 18:43, June 17, 2006
British Royal Guards criticized for wearing bearskin hats on Queen's Birthday
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British Royal Guards regiments will parade for the Queens's 80th birthday wearing their lustrous bearskin hats on Saturday, a scene that will once again irritate animal lovers, British newspaper The Independent said.

In its front-page, the newspaper asked "A bear necessity"?

As the Queen takes the salute to mark her 80th birthday celebrations Saturday morning, some 4,000 miles (6,400 km) away a group of hunters will be preparing to go into the dense woodlands of Canada and kill an Ursus americanus or Canadian black bear, the article mentioned.

In the past five years alone, 494 of those pelts have been sold at a cost of 321,000 pounds (577,000 U.S. dollars) to the British Ministry of Defense (MoD), the report said.

The Army confirmed on Friday that it would continue to buy between 50 and 100 bearskins a year from Canada after it declared a trial to replace the distinctive headwear with hats fashioned from synthetic fur had failed because they got "waterlogged" on rainy days.

The row has provoked an Early Day Motion signed by 175 members of Parliament calling on the Army to switch to man-made bearskins.

With an estimated population of 1 million, the Canadian black bear is not an endangered species and the annual killing of 10,000 is controlled by a licensing scheme under which hunters pay to kill one or two animals at a time.

Source: Xinhua

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