A bitter row blew up yesterday as ferret fanciers fell foul of ethical investment policies at the Co-op Bank.
Members of a Bedfordshire-based welfare group for mustella furo (the ferret) yesterday described the bank as "barmy" for refusing to allow them to open an account because it said they were supporters of a "cruel" sport.
One ferret fancier, Mary Neale, said she was shocked when the bank turned down her application to open an account for the Bedford Ferret Welfare Society which raises thousands of pounds to pay vets' bills and support abandoned animals.
Managers at the bank's Luton Business Centre said ferrets were used to hunt rabbits and the group should take its business elsewhere.
Ms Neale, from Bedford, said: "As a society we are interested in promoting the welfare of ferrets. The money we raise from racing events, fairs and donations is all used to help animals that have been ill-treated. Many of us aren't involved in ferreting for rabbits. But those who do are often brought in by farmers or gardeners who see it as the most humane form of culling. It's just a completely barmy decision."
David Smith, spokesman for the Co-op Bank, said: "We won't support anyone involved in blood sport; that means the use of animals or birds to capture, fight or kill other animals. We consulted the League Against Cruel Sports ... and we ranked it alongside fox-hunting as a cruel sport."Reuse content