Murderous Millinery

In 1867 John Cordeaux described in the journal Zoologist how feather traders were offering a shilling each for 'white gulls'. These were used in the new fashion for decorating women's hats, and one hunter boasted that he had killed 4,000 gulls in a season. A spokesman for the trade claimed that no business in feathers had begun before 1870, but like so many public statements from this source the assertion was false. Howard Saunders also watched hunters at work in the 1860s 'often cutting their wings off and flinging the victims into the sea, to struggle with feet and head until death came slowly to their relief'.

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