The number of bearskin caps purchased for the Guards Regiments in each of the last five years are as follows:
Number 2001 63 2002 179 2003 90 2004 111 2005 51 Total 494
The average cost of a bearskin cap is £650 each.
The bearskins used are provided by licensed fur traders under the jurisdiction of the Canadian authorities.
There have been a number of contracts let with commercial companies to develop a synthetic replacement for bearskins. There has been a trial of caps made from material provided by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). Problems were identified with these caps which included unsatisfactory performance in typical wet weather conditions. Nonetheless we are continuing to work with PETA to find an alternative, and all parties concerned with the trials are taking the search for an alternative to bearskins very seriously.
If an alternative is sourced and found to be fit for purpose, replacement of bearskins will be considered. This has already happened in a number of cases as, for example, with the “busby cap” used by the Royal Horse Artillery.