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The Fur Trade Today - 08/02/04

Published 08/02/04

The media in Norway have recently exposed the problem of hunters training their dogs on live foxes or badgers.

The training is performed in artificial dens — mostly constructed with wooden boards, shaped like tunnels. A cage is placed where the tunnels meet, and a live fox or badger is placed inside it. The attacking dogs then find the fox or badger and terrorize the caged animals. The caged fox or badger is forced to be as close up to the attacking dog as possible. The dogs used are mainly dachshunds and different breeds of terriers. The foxes used as “bait” come from cooperating fur farms.

Source: Harald Eidsmo, NOAH (Norway), 06/29/04

Officials from the California Department of Fish and Game are proposing new rules to legalize hunting and trapping of red foxes and nearly double the trapping days for bobcats to satisfy farmers and hunters. It is illegal to sport hunt or trap both species of red fox that are living in California, but Fish and Game officials say they want to change the rules because hunters and farmers are complaining.

Source: Los Angeles Times, 06/29/04

A Massachusetts bill that would lift voter-approved restrictions on the use of body-gripping traps to catch beavers advanced on Tuesday as lawmakers attempt to appease trappers and the state Division of Fisheries and Wildlife. The legislation would allow the Fisheries and Wildlife to use a broad array of methods to kill beavers, including the use of the Conibear trap.

Lawmakers said there is not enough support to pass legislation that would lift a ban on leghold traps that were outlawed in 1975. The bill specifically states that those traps are still banned. In 2000, lawmakers reached a compromise and allowed the use of the Conibear traps by special permit. The bill now moves for consideration in the House and Senate, which are planning to recess for the year in late July.

Source: Sentinel & Enterprise, 06/30/04

What was quite possibly Italy’s largest mink factory farm has been closed down; most likely due to an ALF liberation. Local newspapers report that the Gherardi mink farm in Ferrara is closed and all its cages empty. This farm had been visited by the ALF on 10/18/03 and 18,000 minks were given their freedom. The factory-farmer lost 40 years of selective breeding and was able to recapture only 4,000 minks.

In an interview the farmer says he is closing for personal reasons, not because of the liberation. He says his decision is not permanent since he still has working equipment. He is waiting for an appeal that mink farmers have made to the Italian State on the law that would force them to have larger cages beginning 2005, and no cages but ponds for minks beginning 2009.

Source: CAFT-UK, 07/07/04

North American fur retailers are reporting that the prices of fur garments will be priced 25% or more higher than last year, to compensate for rising pelt prices.

The number of minks that will be killed on U.S. factory farms this year is thought to remain even with last year’s body count, which totaled about 2.6 million. More female minks were bred this year, but there were “scattered” reports of dying kits due to bacteria buildups resulting from poor weather while the babies were nursing. The number of minks that will be killed this year on Canadian factory farms is estimated to increase in number over last year’s figure of 1.6 million dead minks.

The kill total on Scandinavian fur farms will remain unchanged at 16.1 million industry analysts say. The total number of minks killed worldwide year was about 32.4 million.

Source: Sandy Parker Reports, 07/05/04

Representatives of environmental groups, trappers, and the New Mexico Game and Fish Department met to discuss whether leghold traps should be banned from public lands.

Ms. Jene Moseley said her companion animals have gotten caught in traps on two occasions, one of which resulted in the amputation of her cat’s paw, and a veterinarian bill of $212. Another time, she was unable to remove a trap from her dog’s foot and had to call a neighbor for help. Moseley has encountered illegal traps near her home. Moseley and others opposed to leghold traps are going to create a bill to present to the Legislature in December, one that will be patterned after Arizona’s bill, which put the issue on an election ballot.

Roger Peterson, wildlife issues co-chairman for the statewide chapter of the Sierra Club, said the traps demonstrate poor wildlife management. “There’s no bag limit, and bobcats are the only predators that have to be reported after they’re trapped.”

Bill Dunn of the Game and Fish Department said the Department issues about 1,500 trapping licenses each year.

Source: TheDailyPress.com, 07/14/04

2.55 million minks were killed and skinned in U.S. in 2003, compared with 2.61 million in 2002. [This figure does not account for any mink babies who died due to illness or adverse weather conditions during the crucial whelping time — JM]

603,400 female mink were bred in 2003 and each had an average of 4.22 kits who survived long enough to be killed for their skin.

604,800 female mink were bred in 2004, up 0.2% from last year.

The total number of U.S. mink factory-farms fell from 324 to 307 in 2003, a drop of 23%.

Utah led the U.S. in the number of fur farms with 80, unchanged from the previous year. Wisconsin is second with 69 fur farms and Minnesota is third with 31, down from 33 in 2002.

Fur farmers in Wisconsin killed more minks than fur farmers in other states by skinning 706,300 minks, up from 685,000 the year before. Utah was second, skinning 590,000 minks, up from 575,000. [Again, this figure does not account for any mink babies who died due to illness or adverse weather conditions — JM]

The next three largest mink killing states are Oregon, Minnesota and Idaho.

Source: National Agricultural Statistics Service, 07/15/04

Following are world fur factory-farming statistics:

I. By Animals


  • Denmark - 12.2 million in 2003 (35% of world supply)
  • China - 2.5 million in 2003
  • USA - 2.6 million in 2003
  • Russia - approximately 2 million
  • Finland - 2 million in 2003; 1.9 million in 2002
  • Sweden - 1.4 million in 2003, same in 2002
  • Poland - 1.2 million in 2003; 600,000 in 2002
  • Canada - 1.6 million in 2003 (Sandy Parker Reports 07/05/04); 1,110,350 in 2002; 1,147,060 in 2001
  • Netherlands - 3 million
  • Norway - 370,000 in 2003; 360,000 in 2002
  • Iceland - 150,000 in 2003; 165,000 in 2002
  • Ireland - 140,000
  • Czech Republic - 16,000 in 1999
  • Total farmed worldwide - 32.4 million in 2003 (Sandy Parker Reports 07/05/04); 33,765,000 in 2002
  • Mink Trapped - estimated 115,000 (in U.S.)


  • Finland - 2.3 million
  • Russia - 370,000
  • Norway - 330,000
  • Poland - 200,000
  • Czech Republic - 5,200 in 1999
  • Denmark - 34,000
  • USA - 20,000
  • Iceland - 12,000
  • Ireland - 1,700
  • Total farmed worldwide - 5.3 million
  • Fox Trapped - 368,000 (USA)


  • USA - 70,000 in 2000
  • Czech Republic - 13,000 in 1994


  • approximately 100,000

Raccoon Dog

  • approximately 90,000


  • Trapped: 330,000 in U.S. (2003-2004)

For breakdown of animals trapped in U.S. see www.hsus.org/ace/12034.</strong>

Total number of wild animals ranched for fur (not including sheep, rabbits, cats, dogs, etc.) = approximately 38 million

II. Others

Harp Seals
  • Canada - 352,000 in 2004; 286,000 in 2003
  • Greenland - 100,000
  • Russia (in White Sea) - 30,000

Ringed Seals

  • Canada - 30,000 ringed seals, 10,000 of which are sold commercially

Other Seals

  • Namibia - 50,000
  • Norway - 20,000

Dogs and Cats

  • Asia - approximately 2 million

Karakal Lambs/Persian Lambs

  • Central Asian (Afghanistan, Uzbeckistan) and South Africa (Namibia) - approximately 4 million

III. Trapping (estimated)

  • USA - 4 million
  • Russia - 4 million
  • Canada - 1 million (Fur Institute of Canada, www.statscan.ca)
  • EU - 5 million, mainly for “animal damage control” purposes (according to Fur Institute of Canada), including 1 million non-native muskrats
    (400,000 from Netherlands eradication program, but fur can not be commercially sold (??))

IV. Total Fur Animals Killed by Nation (for nations with both significant trapping and farming)


  • Fur farms - 2.5 million, 10 million a decade ago
  • Trapping - 4 million
  • Total - approximately 6.5 million


  • Fur farms - 2.6 million (USDA)
  • Trapping - 4 million (estimated from state wildlife agency data)
  • Total - approximately 6-7 million


  • Fur farms - 1.1 million (www.statcan.ca)
  • Trapping - approximately 1 million
  • Total - approximately 2 million

V. Number of Fur Farms

  • Denmark - ? mink farms; 86 fox farms
  • Norway - 600 in 2003; 1100 in 1998
  • USA - 318 in 2002; 324 in 2001 (USDA)
  • Netherlands - 208 mink
  • Sweden - 180 mink; 700 in 1987
  • Canada - 189 mink in 2002; 105 fox in 2002
  • Russia - 40 total
  • Ireland - 6 total
  • Estonia - 110 chinchilla farms
  • Czech Republic - 7 big mink and fox farms, plus unknown small ones

Source: Andrea Cimino, HSUS, 07/04

Following is information on fur farming in countries other than the U.S.

  • There are 6,000 fur farms in European Fur Breeder Association member states annually skinning an average of 19 million mink and 2.8 million foxes. Its production accounts for almost 70% of globally farmed pelt production. European fur farming is concentrated in Denmark, Finland and the Netherlands. (www.efbanet.com/economics.htm)
  • Most fur farming takes place in Northern Europe (66%) and North America (13% of mink). The remainder occurs in countries as far apart as Argentina, the Baltic States, China, Ukraine and Russia. In Europe, there are some 6,000 fur farms. In Canada there are 360 mink and fox farms. (www.iftf.com/newhome.html)
  • Factory-farmed furs account for 85% of the industry’s turnover. Most recent figures (2002) show that approximately 35.5 million animals were skinned in that year (87% minks; 13% foxes). (www.iftf.com/newhome.html)
  • There were 110 chinchilla factory farms in Estonia in 2003. (www.chinchilla.ee/en/index.html)
  • In Argentina they farm the chinchillas in containers in basements. (www.rjkchinchillas.com/Ingles/ingindex.htm)
  • The number of mink farms in Denmark rose continually until the 1970s, when it peaked at more than 5,000. Since then, the number has declined to approximately 2,800. Danish fur farmers skin approximately 12 million minks annually.
  • Denmark kept approximately 11,000 breeding female foxes in 2000, and at least 25 chinchilla farms 2002/2003 which skinned around 4,400 animals.
  • Denmark currently stands keeps captive approximately 1,000 breeding rex rabbit females. There are also 17 rabbit fur farms that breed castor rex rabbits, breeding a total of around 1,800 females. There are 16 rabbit fur farms that breed chinchilla rex, breeding around 1,100 females.
  • Croatia is the biggest chinchilla fur producer in the world with up to 50% of the total world production.

Source: Daniel Rolke, 07/14/04

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