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British lawmakers join protest over use of bear pelts in soldiers' ceremonial hats

1/12/2007

LONDON — British legislators donned faux fur hats outside
the Houses of Parliament on Tuesday to protest the use of bear
pelts in soldiers' ceremonial head wear.

More than two dozen lawmakers, including actress Glenda Jackson,
backed a call by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals for a
ban on the use of Canadian black bears to make the foot-high hats
worn by royal guards.

The lawmakers rallied outside the Houses of Parliament, wearing
fake fur hats emblazoned with the logo ``No Fur'' and holding a
banner urging the army to ``Go Fake for the Bears' Sake.''

The Ministry of Defense buys 50 to 100 bearskin pelts a year to
outfit five regiments — the Grenadier, Welsh, Irish, Scots and
Coldstream Guards — who guard Buckingham Palace and other royal
sites.

The army has tested faux fur as part of a decade-long search for
an alternative, but officials say the results have been
unsatisfactory — in warm weather the hats proved to be hot, and in
rainy weather the faux fur stuck together.

The ministry says it
strives to repair rather than replace its hats, which can last for
up to 40 years.

Canadian black bears are not an endangered species.