Thank you for taking the time to write to me about the use of bearskin in the armed forces.
It is my understanding that the bear pelts that are used for the Queen’s Guards ceremonial caps are the by-products of a necessary cull, licenced by Canadian authorities as part of a programme to manage the wild bear population, as opposed to fur being harvested from an animal being bred for this sole purpose. In regards to the ECOPEL created faux bear fur, it is my current understanding that the Ministry of Defence's (MOD) analysis of the fabric shows that the faux fur does not in fact reach the standards needed to provide an effective replacement for the caps.
The MOD has reiterated that whilst the faux fur met the basic standard for water absorption, it showed high rates of water shedding and performed poorly on the visual assessment. As the artificial fur sadly didn't meet the standards required for a ceremonial cap which is worn throughout the year and in all weathers, the MOD has no plans to take this faux fur forward.
Looking ahead, any new fabric would have to meet with user approval for shape and comfort for a parade length of duty. This would look at whether the fabric could maintain its shape over time, whether it is comfortable and safe for the user - including ensuring any waterproof backing is breathable - and whether the faux fur is waterproof after the shaping, sewing and perforation that would be involved. Even then, any reduction in the number of bearskins procured by the MOD would not equate to a reduction in the numbers of bears being culled in Canada.
However, I do appreciate your strength of feeling on this matter, and I do think that it should be kept under close and regular review.
Thank you again for writing to me.
With best wishes.
Jonathan Lord MP
Member of Parliament for Woking