North Ayrshire MP Patricia Gibson has lent her support to a bid to replace the bearskins used by the Scots Guards with faux fur.

She joined 17 Scottish MPs in backing a campaign by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), launched ahead of the Edinburgh Military Tattoo.

They have sent a letter to the Ministry of Defence backing the end of bearskins hats in the military.

It reads "While we strongly urge the Ministry of Defence (MoD) to replace all the bearskin used for the caps with faux fur, we specifically demand that the Scots Guards’ caps be replaced with a modern, humane alternative.

“Replacing the bearskin with faux fur would allow the history of the caps to endure in a way that reflects modern society’s respect for wildlife. We would be very pleased for Scotland to lead the charge and for our guards to pioneer this humane, modern cap."

The MoD has long maintained that it is not wedded to the use of bearskin and would replace it with faux fur when a suitable fabric became available.

PETA says it has invested significant resources into developing a fabric with luxury faux furrier ECOPEL that satisfies the agreed-upon terms.

But the charity says that even tohugh an independent fabric technologist found that the ECOPEL material performs in the same way as bear fur, the MoD has failed to uphold its side of the bargain.

PETA senior campaigns manager Kate Werner said: "Scottish MPs – like the vast majority of the public – do not want the Scots Guards parading with the skin of a dead bear on their head.

 “This is yet another message to the MoD that it must stop clinging to caps that represent bears’ violent deaths and put ECOPEL’s high-quality faux fur to good use.”

After decades of telling the public that its fur is sourced from bears who are killed as part of Canadian government “culls”, PETA said the MoD admitted in a Freedom of Information request response that it purchases finished caps and has no knowledge of its supply chain.

Instead, hunters obtain permits to bait and kill bears for “sport”, then sell their fur to auction houses.

PETA said it took the skin of at least one bear to make a single cap and that some bears are shot several times before they die, and some escape only to bleed to death. The use of bows and arrows to hunt bears is permitted.

The MPs note in the letter that such abject cruelty does not reflect Scottish people’s “morals and values”. They cite polls showing that the vast majority of Scotland’s population rejects fur and point to a recent survey showing that only 11 per cent of citizens support the use of real fur for these ceremonial caps.

The Ministry of Defence said: "We continue to be clear that bears are not hunted to order for the Ministry of Defence. Bear pelts used are a product of legal and licensed hunts, sourced exclusively from the regulated Canadian market.

"Reductions in the number of bearskins procured by the MOD would not reduce the numbers of bears being hunted."