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The Fur Trade Today - 01/04/07

Published 01/04/07

Family dog caught in trap

Elgin, IL — Shannon George was taking a Thanksgiving Day walk a week ago through the wetland area between Tyler Creek and the railroad tracks, off Lyle Avenue, when he saw a young boy in tears.

The Springfield man was out with his father-in-law, Elgin resident Tim Peshek, walking a dog when they met the boy, perhaps 10 years old, crying about his own dog, a Siberian husky.

Source: Suburban Chicago News, 11/30/06

Editorial: The fur flies

It once seemed that the fashion for wearing fur was fading, as public attitudes shifted in a broadly progressive direction. But no. Cruelty is back, partly as a result of some clever marketing by the fur industry. It is time now to try to finish the job started by the shock tacticians of the early anti-fur campaigns. This time round, new tactics and a more considered response are required. The Independent on Sunday is not against fur; we are opposed to cruelty to animals.

So it would not be right to incite hostility towards anyone who appears to be wearing fur. It may be fake, or it may be humanely produced. The object of our campaign is to tighten up the classification and labelling of fur, so that people can have confidence in fur that is sold as cruelty-free. This should not include imported fur that may have been trapped or killed inhumanely; nor should it include fur from animals such as mink or foxes that have been farmed. They are wild animals not suited to domestication, that often die in distress.

Fur is a matter of personal choices as well as of political will. If people are provided with information about how fur is produced, we are confident that they will prefer to go cruelty-free. And we are confident that famous people who have the power to influence others will recognise their responsibilities.

So, Kate Moss: join our campaign today.

Source: The Independent, 12/03/06

Couple who lost dog to trap starts letter campaign

Lake Placid, NY — Shannon Preston said she had never felt so helpless. As two Mount Van Hoevenberg employees tried to free her 4-year-old dog Meesha from a trap set a short distance from one of the cross-country ski center’s trails, she said she could only shield her two daughters from the horrific sight and hope. In a matter of minutes on the day after Thanksgiving, the Prestons had lost a member of their family.

Source: Adirondack Daily Enterprise, 12/04/06

As fur retailers were preparing to close their books for the month last week, November appeared to be winding up as a disappointment for many in North America and Western Europe. Again, inconsistent weather was generally cited as the culprit, underscoring the sensitivity of fur sales to temperature changes. As the introductory month to the retail fur season and the fourth largest contributor to their annual volume, retailers had been counting on it to get them off to a strong start. As of the middle of last week, however, this wasn’t to be the case. In fact, it was turning out to be the reverse of last year’s month, which started out weak and wound up strong because of a sudden drop in the temperature toward the end.

A similar mercury drop was developing in the northwestern part of the U.S. at the weekend and destined to sweep across the country, too late to give a boost to retailers’ November figures, but possibly get December off to a good start. Many stores reported that November sales had been running close to those of a year ago and that would have been satisfactory, considering how strong that month turned out. But the final weekend, which included Thanksgiving Day, brought mild weather and evidently led fur customers to postpone their shopping plans. Friday of that weekend traditionally kicks off the holiday shopping season and has become the biggest shopping day of the year. In that respect, the weather was ideal and other retailers rang up healthy gains. As summed up by one Midwestern furrier, however, it was the worst Thanksgiving weekend in years.

Source: Sandy Parker Reports, 12/04/06

Anti-fur demonstrations by animal rights organizations on what they describe as Fur-Free Friday largely fell on deaf ears, at least as far as the media were concerned. That day is a red-letter day on the activists’ calendar, when they go all out to win public support for their cause with marches and demonstrations staged to attract media attention. The main focus has always been New York City, with marches down Fifth Avenue and other main thoroughfares, with raucous rallies at upscale stores along the route. At their peak in the late-1980s, the marchers numbered as many as 2,000 and the events were well recorded by the media.

But times have changed, as have people’s attitudes and the media’s sense of what constitutes news and merits their space or time. Continuing problems in the Middle East, social unrest elsewhere and other concerns closer to home have been providing enough fodder for their columns or air time to push such issues as animal rights to a back burner at best. But this year’s activities themselves could hardly be called newsworthy in terms either of size or nature. In New York, for example, a small march from Columbus Circle and a rally outside Bergdorf-Goodman involved only about 100 or so people who chanted for a while and then left. The N.Y.P.D. was there, but apparently wasn’t moved to action. Nor were there any demonstrations in the fur district farther downtown, as there had been in prior years. In Chicago, it was so warm that protest activities were minimal and media coverage even less.

Elsewhere in the U.S., the activists’ demonstrations also were described as smaller and, for the most part, more muted. What limited press coverage there was was said to have been balanced by responses from the fur interests. In what may have been the largest protest, about 150 people took to the streets in Portland, Ore., and focused on Schumacher Furs, which has been under their fire with weekly demonstrations for the past year. Unlike situations elsewhere, however, this furrier has not been able to get support from local authorities against alleged criminal activities by some of the activists and has filed legal actions against the city (SPR, 04/24/06).

Source: Sandy Parker Reports, 12/04/06

The Danish technical academy, EUC Syd, is launching a new fur design and technology course for students in their final year. The course, in collaboration with Kopenhagen Fur, will allow students to devote a full semester to fur design and techniques, as well as focus on how to communicate about fur and act as liaisons between furriers and production houses. The course also will include a two-week training program at the newly-opened Kopenhagen Studio, as well as lessons in sorting and quality grading of skins at the auction house. At the same time, they will be exposed to the possibilities and restraints involved in fur design.

Source: Sandy Parker Reports, 12/04/06

For the 2007 REMIX design contest, the International Fur Trade Federation will sweeten the pot with cash awards for the three finalists. This will be in addition to a trip to Milan, where the winners will be chosen at MIFUR, introduction to fashion and fur trade members and PR support for a year. The first prize winner will receive $3,000, second $2,000 and third $1,000. The contest is open to design students in member countries who have graduated from college or a design school within the past two years. Full details and entry forms can be downloaded from the IFTF website at www.iftf.com/designcompetition.html.

Source: Sandy Parker Reports, 12/04/06

The research team of the Fur Institute of Canada in Vegreville has updated its list of traps that are now certified according to the requirements of the Agreement on International Humane Trapping Standards (AIHTS), which is scheduled to be implemented in the fall of 2007. The new additions, species-specific killing traps, are: fisher – Rudy 160 Plus, Sauvageau 2001-6 and Sauvageau 2001-7; marten – Rudy 160 Plus; raccoon – Duke 160 and Rudy 160 Plus, and muskrat – Sauvageau C160 Reverse Bend (on land). The complete list is available at FIC’s website: www.fur.ca. Traps will be added to the list as they become certified and will be identified with an asterisk.

Source: Sandy Parker Reports, 12/04/06

Eagle under care after being snagged in trap

Leeds, ME — An American bald eagle was under care Wednesday after being rescued from a coyote trap. The bird was discovered Tuesday afternoon in a foothold trap that had been legally set to catch coyote and fox that had been feeding on a nearby deer carcass, said Maine Game Warden Dave Chabot. The bird was being held by a single talon that was caught in the grip of the trap’s jaws, Chabot said. The trapper wasn’t doing anything wrong, but was so upset that he pulled all his traps and left the area, he said.

Source: Bangor Daily News, 12/07/06

Croatia Bans Fur Farming

The Croatian government has introduced a new Animal Protection Act that will ban fur farming. The legislation comes into force on 1 January 2007 and the ban will be subject to a 10 year phase out period.

Sources: Respect for Animals,
Animal Friends Croatia,

There had been some concern over Russia’s participation in this sale because of customs problems that were holding up shipments, particularly from Greece (SPR, 11/27/06). While an earlier — and much more serious — Chinese customs problem had been cleared up, the Russian government had clamped down on large shipments of fur garments that were finding their way into the country without paying duty and other taxes amounting to 50% or more ad valorem. Considering the volume of imports, the government figured it was losing millions of dollars. The immediate result was a pileup of outgoing shipments at the Thessalonika airport in Greece and of incoming goods at Moscow’s airport.

That situation now is reported to have been cleared up by a practical solution of give-and-take in which the government is willing to ‘wink’ at undervalued — but nevertheless official — customs declarations. According to trade sources, the duty on a mink coat will average about $400, which is still far less than the official rate, but more than the extra cost of shipping through the so-called ‘black’ route. While not quite ‘white’, the new arrangement allows shipments by regular carriers and the assurance of delivery.

With the resumption of shipments to Russia — and the prospect of a renewed cash flow — the factories in Kastoria and other northern Greek towns are humming again. For the past few months, while their shipments remained undelivered, their invoices were going unpaid and their bank loans were coming due. In addition, there was a fear that if deliveries weren’t completed as promised before the end of the year, they would be rejected. Russia is by far the biggest customer for Greek fur products. Believed to be second largest is Dubai, the Middle Eastern emirate where more than 100 Greek manufacturers have set up retail shops that cater not only to oil-rich arabs, but also to newly-rich Russians who have made it a vacation and shopping destination.

Source: Sandy Parker Reports, 12/11/06

The advent of more seasonable temperatures in the past 10 days has been getting American fur retailers off to a more promising start on what usually is their biggest month of the year, following a somewhat lackluster November. Although the month’s totals came close to last year’s good figures, many retailers expressed disappointment — based on gains registered in prior months — that they didn’t go well ahead. Some, in fact, were down as much as 15%. The reason, virtually all agreed, was inconsistent weather which didn’t permit the buildup of any momentum. But a good December, which can account for one-third or more of their annual revenues, can put them way ahead for the calendar year.

Sales for the year to date are said to be running from just behind to slightly ahead, which also is described as disappointing considering the sharp increases in prices. This would indicate a decline in comparable unit sales, although the movement of novelties and inexpensive small pieces is reported to be up. The service business, including storage, cleaning, repairs and restyling also is mostly said to be ahead and an important contributor to the bottom line.

Source: Sandy Parker Reports, 12/11/06

The sentencing of New York broker David Karsch for his conviction in a bid-rigging case involving otters has been postponed to Jan. 8 in Seattle. Karsch entered a guilty plea May 16 to a one-count charge (SPR, 11/29/06) that he and Alaska Brokerage International, of which he was vice-president, “and other co-conspirators entered into and engaged in a combination and conspiracy to rig bids for otter pelts sold at an auction held by Fur Harvesters Auction in King County, Wash., on Feb. 14, 2004.” Sentencing had tentatively been set for Sept. 18 by Federal Judge James L. Robart in Seattle, but it was understood there would be a postponement because Karsch was facing surgeries. The maximum sentence under the statute is three years imprisonment and a fine of $350,000. Alaska Brokerage pleaded nolo contendere.

Source: Sandy Parker Reports, 12/11/06

Pet Dog Killed by Trap

City police say they know who put out a steel leg trap that killed a dog being walked in a leash-free area of the Hanlon Park Trail on Wednesday. The Jack Russell terrier died when his head was caught in the trap by a fence about 10 feet from the trail, behind an industrial property in the Hanlon Business Park, police said.

Source: Guelph Tribune (Ontario, Canada), 12/15/06

The return of mild weather across most of the United States appears to have put a slight crimp in the pace of fur sales, but retailers were still confident the month’s figures would at least come close to their projections. December is the biggest month on their calendar, usually accounting for as much as one-third or more of their annual sales. As such it can make the difference between an increase or a decrease for the year. However, with most of the earlier months having been on the positive side, retailers figure that even a mediocre December will cap a decent year. But, from a profit standpoint, the picture is decidedly brighter because steadily rising skin prices have increased the value of what they own.

A spot check of retailers in key areas around the U.S. last week found that sales were tracing an uneven pattern. Weekend activity appeared to be holding up well and many stores remain open on Sundays at this time of the year. But sales during the week were termed spotty and more vulnerable to unfavorable weather conditions. Promotional activities were described as normal for this month and most retailers reported their operating margins were on the healthy side, indicating good profit prospects for the year.

Source: Sandy Parker Reports, 12/18/06

A new label/hangtag has been developed to assure fur customers that the origin of their new fur is from a country where regulations or standards governing fur production are in force. The new program represents an initiative by the international industry to offset anti-fur arguments by animal rights organizations. The joint initiative involves the International Fur Trade Federation, American Legend Cooperative, Finnish Fur Sales, Kopenhagen Fur and North American Fur Auctions. Called Origin Assured (OA), the hangtags will be available to skin buyers at the auctions and fabric labels are expected to be available in the new year.

Separate OA hangtags have been developed for farmed and wild furs. Some furs may not qualify at first for the OA mark, but the program is designed to grow and embrace additional producing countries and species as soon as countries are able to meet the criteria for inclusion. According to IFTF chairman Andreas Lenhart, “Introduction of the OA label is the single most important initiative to emerge from the fur industry in decades. It will reinforce the fact that we are a responsible industry committed to transparency.” An independent monitoring agency is being retained to check on compliance; after the first year, the label will be launched to the wider public.

Source: Sandy Parker Reports, 12/18/06

Jimmy Buffett joins boycott protesting seal hunt

There will be no Canadian fishburgers in the paradise of Jimmy Buffett. The Florida musician (“Cheeseburger in Paradise” and “Margaritaville” are two of his songs) and restaurant owner has joined a boycott of Canadian seafood, one aimed to force an end to the seal hunt in this country.

Source: CTV News, 12/20/06

“The Real Fashion Victims” Report

In late October 2006, ANIMAL (Portugal)’s investigators went inside the secret world of the Portuguese rabbit́s fur trade. Read here the report on the disturbing reality of the real “fashion victims” that they have found.

Source: Swiss TV (in German),
scroll down to “Gequälte Kaninchen”, click on the video icon, 12/21/06

PDF Report

Dog killed in Kent by steel trap hidden in bucket of sardines in culvert

A dog was killed Wednesday after a steel trap hidden in a bucket of sardines sprung around its neck. The dog, a 40-pound labrador mix, was being walked by its owner, Tracy Wallach. The dog was on a leash, and died quickly after the trap was sprung. Wallach did not return a call to her home.

Source: Record-Courier (Ohio), 12/22/06

NY store drops ‘faux fur’ jackets

A New York department store has said it is pulling two models of hooded jackets from its shelves after claims the “faux fur” linings were made from dog fur. A US animal protection organisation said the hooded jackets at Macy’s were lined with raccoon dog.

Raccoon dogs are mainly nocturnal animals indigenous to Asia.

Source: BBC, 12/23/06

Dog Diddy Breaks Vow to Go Faux

It’s a doggone shame, but a day after designing rapper Sean “Diddy” Combs said he’d pull his line of coats made with raccoon-dog fur, the offending garments still graced the racks and window at his Midtown store yesterday.

Combs promised the Humane Society on Friday that the winter jacket adorned with the fur of the canine species known as raccoon-dog was being pulled from his Sean John line, and vowed that, in the future, the garment would be made with faux fur only.

Source: New York Post, 12/24/06

Back in Style: The Fur Trade

Tom DeLisle, sporting thigh-high waders, squishes through mud and cattails surrounding a pond near Albany, looking for wayward beavers that might have wandered into one of his underwater traps. Alas, his instant-kill traps, baited with Backbreaker castor oil, are empty. But Mr. DeLisle plans to keep trapping all winter, knowing that the pelts of beavers and other animals will grow thicker — and may fetch a better price when he sells them — as the months wear on. “Come trapping season, it’s hard to wait,” Mr. DeLisle said of his pursuit. “It’s like a kid on Christmas morning.”

Source: New York Times, 12/24/06

With the approach of the year’s end, it is now evident that 2006 will finish on a much stronger note than the previous year, particularly in terms of skin prices, but also from a profit standpoint. To paraphrase an old adage, it’s difficult to lose money in a rising market and fur prices have been rising steadily for four consecutive years. It was too early to tell how the year’s retail volume would wind up, considering that there was still another week of important December selling, but most American retailers surveyed were confident their calendar year totals would at least equal last year’s. Reports from Western Europe were not quite as bright, but China and Russia — whose demand has been fueling the price increases — were said to be doing just fine.

At this point, retailers’ principal concern is the weather, specifically the absence of consistent seasonable temperatures. The general complaint across much of the U.S. and Western Europe has been that a few days of low mercury readings and good traffic through their stores are often followed by a mild spell and postponements of shopping plans. As a New York resident buyer commented last week, “if this were October or November, business would be called ‘good’, but for December, it’s disappointing.” His stores are now counting on better conditions in January and February to save the season. They could be getting their wish. According to the chief meteorologist of a New York-based weather consulting firm, the January-through-March period should be chillier than normal, more volatile and snowier than usual. “People,” he said, “will be in for a rude awakening compared to what they’ve experienced in November and December thus far.”

Source: Sandy Parker Reports, 12/25/06

The Finnish sale was preceded by a raucous demonstration by a group of hooded animal rights activists that hurled insults at the company’s employees. Anxious about her employees’ feeling of insecurity, CEO Pirkko Rantanen-Kervinen lashed out at what she called intimidation designed to engender panic. She was reacting in particular to the photographing of the workers and the license plates on their automobiles. The company has a permanent staff of over 100 and nearly 500 seasonal workers, including many foreigners. FFS said it has contacted both employees’ and employers’ organizations as well as the Occupational Health & Safety Inspectorate. Although Finnish labor laws are highly advanced and detailed, they do not provide effective means for intervening in cases in which employees are intimidated by outsiders. The authorities, said Rantanen-Kervinen, should intervene when private citizens are harassed in the name of a demonstration.

Source: Sandy Parker Reports, 12/25/06

The new Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (AETA) may get its first test in a case against the city of Portland, Ore., and possibly against one or more agencies of the federal government. Portland retailer Schumacher Furs & Outerwear, which claims the city has ignored his many complaints of terrorism and harassment in more than a year-long campaign by animal activists, is now planning to seek relief in a federal court. Schumacher has already filed a tort claim against the city (SPR, 04/2606) and now will test the new law which expands existing prohibitions to include harassment and threats against secondary and tertiary targets. According to owner Greg Schumacher, local police have told him they have no intention of enforcing a federal law. He also claims to have received a similar response from a U.S. marshal.

Source: Sandy Parker Reports, 12/25/06

Opinion: Steel-Jawed Traps Are Cruel and Inhumane

The Chattanoogan essentially reprinted a press release from an Ohio-based hunting industry organization, the U.S. Sportsmens Alliance, criticizing Fox Sports for occasionally airing a Public Service Announcement produced by The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) on the dangers of steel-jawed leghold traps (Fox Sports Net to Air Free Anti-Trapping Ads, Dec. 26). These traps are cruel and inhumane, killing wildlife and sometimes family pets. They are like landmines for animals, catching any creature unlucky enough to spring the trap.

Source: Chattanoogan (Tennessee), 12/26/06

Letter to the Editor: Conibear traps bring unnecessary tragedy

One year ago our lives were shattered, when our beloved dog was caught and killed in a conibear trap while outside playing with my children.

It was the same type of trap that the University of Waterloo is now setting to kill beavers.

Source: Waterloo Chronicle (Ontario, Canada), 12/27/06

Fur flying as mink prices rise
Profits up for farmers in fur resurgence

A demand for fur by a growing middle class in Russia and China, and a return of fur in Western fashions, have led to record prices for mink pelts. Peter Peters has been farming mink since he came to Prince Edward Island from Holland 20 years ago, and markets have never been better for him.

Source: CBC News, 12/27/06

High demand from Asia makes bobcat pelts pricier

Asian countries with strong economies are driving the demand for bobcat fur, keeping Montana and Wyoming pelt prices steady or rising in value over the past few years.

“Those countries that are developing and have good economies, such as China, have an increasing demand for spotted furs,” said Brian Giddings, state furbearer coordinator for the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks. “People with growing incomes want to have fine fashions.”

The resulting demand, along with strong bobcat populations, has increased the harvest and the number of trappers in Montana.

Source: Billings Gazette (Montana Forum), 12/28/06

Letter to the Editor: Danger lurking

Two weekends before Christmas Meghan, our small black Lab, was caught in a trap and nearly strangled to death in front of us. My wife, Judy, and I were walking in the woods along a well-used trail in Sanbornton. The horrible experience has changed our lives.

I was a few hundred yards behind when I heard Judy shrieking, and I started running. Meghan, had tripped a conibear trap, and it locked shut around her neck. Blood was coming out of her mouth and she was choking to death ... gasping for every breath and writhing in pain. Judy and I struggled to get the thing off the dog. We couldn’t free her. It’s not possible to open the trap without special tools.

Source: The Citizen of Laconia (New Hampshire), 12/29/06

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