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The Fur Trade Today - 06/30/04

Published 06/30/04

Roger Simon, The Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) area director for the Magdalen Islands, reports that the spring seal hunt in the Southern Gulf of St. Lawrence and off the eastern coast of Newfoundland was one of the bloodiest in years. During the hunt, sealers killed 352,000 harp seals, 2,000 more than the 350,000 quota for the spring.

This spring was the second year of a three-year plan, in which a total of 975,000 seals were to be killed. Only two years ago the quota was 275,000 seals.

Source: The Journal Pioneer (Prince Edward Island), 06/09/04

Statistics on the Canadian Fur Trade (figures in Canadian dollars)

The value of wildlife skins for Canada increased 14.1% in 2001 to $23.5 million compared to $20.6 million in 2000.

During that same period, Ontario, at $4.7 million, showed no change but Quebec enjoyed an increase of 29.9% while Manitoba decreased 11.9%. Together, these three provinces account for about 60% of the total value.

In Canada, the total number of animals killed on fur farms decreased to 1,110,350 in 2002 from 1,147,060 in 2001. Pelt value was $47.9 million, 4.2% below the $50.0 million reported in 2001. The number of fox farms decreased from 135 to 105 while mink farms remained constant, 189 compared to 190 in 2001.

Here are the totals for 2001-2002:

The total number of wildlife killed in Canada was 1,019,398 and the total value was $23,496,634. (Again seals and bears are included even though they are not trapped)

In Canada -

  • In 2000 - there were 169 fox farms
  • In 2001 - there were 135 fox farms
  • In 2002 - there were 105 fox farms (The provinces with the highest number of fox farms were Ontario and New Brunswick tied at 20 farms each)
  • In 2000 - there were 180 mink farms
  • In 2001 - there were 190 mink farms
  • In 2002 - there were 189 mink farms (Nova Scotia has the highest number of fur farms, 75! - and Ontario is second with 57.)

Source: www.statcan.ca</p>

According to the trapping industry, recruitment into trapping and fur hunting is at an all-time low. Many experienced trappers who could kill large numbers of animals are not trapping because of age, well-paying full-time jobs or the shaky fur market. Even young people in rural areas are choosing to flip burgers rather than become trappers.

According to the Tennessee Free Trappers & A.D.C.O. Association, the U.S. Dept of Agriculture Wildlife Services, the Tennessee Department of Health, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will be distributing a rabies vaccine along the Georgia border in southeast Tennessee to orally vaccinate wild raccoons in an effort to halt the spread of raccoon strain rabies into Tennessee. Bait distribution will be accomplished by hand baiting from vehicles in urban/suburban areas. [This project demonstrates how trapping is not an effective way to stop the spread of disease. – JM]

The Wisconsin Trappers Association (WTA) and the Wisconsin Conservation Congress Fur Harvest sub-committee on dryland conibear issues held a meeting recently, where they expressed concern that the use of dryland conibear traps will be made illegal in Wisconsin because of some “incidents” that took place last season.

John Irwin of the WTA is asking trappers who have snared domestic animals this year to report the incidents to him. He says that knowing how many dogs and cats that were caught will prove that the devices are of no threat to them. Irwin claims that collecting data on dog and cat catches will enable them the WTA to demonstrate the safety of cable snares.

Source: Trapper & Predator Caller, June/July 2004

Update on the status of fur farming in Austria:

The fur farm ban achieved in November 1998 was an outright ban in only five of nine provinces. In one other province fur farming was implicitly forbidden, which changed a few years back to an explicit ban. The three remaining provinces allowed fur farming but made it practically impossible, by demanding standards such as foxes being kept on natural floors and mink having access to swimming water, among other things.

The new Austrian animal protection law includes an outright explicit ban of fur farming throughout the country, using the language “The keeping of fur animals to produce fur is illegal.” Oddly, “fur animals” is nowhere defined in the law, but the statute that contains the ban deals with the keeping of wild animals, so it is implied that “fur animals” are wild animals having fur. Wild animals are defined as all animals apart from domesticated animals and farmed animals. Domesticated animals include rabbits. Another law prohibits the keeping of dogs or cats for the purpose of producing food or other products.

Source: Email from Austrian activist Martin Balluch, 06/12/04

Following is the status of fur farming in several countries:

  • Austria banned fur farming throughout the entire nation in 2004.
  • Ireland’s Fur Farming (Prohibition) Bill, sponsored by the Green Party is now being considered. Currently, mink farms require a license to operate, while fox farms do not. There are 6 mink farms and at least 2 fox farms in the Republic of Ireland at the present time.
  • Italy: As of 2008, all mink farms must allow swimming water, more space, and pens on the ground. This will likely lead to the closure of all Italian mink farms.
  • The Netherlands: Passed a ban on both fox and chinchilla farming, which goes into effect after a phase out period. While the mink issue has been heavily debated at the highest levels of government, the Netherlands still has many mink farms.
  • New Zealand allows fur farming of ferrets (only two to five farms exist in the entire country), but prohibits the import of mink. This effectively bans mink farming in New Zealand.
  • Sweden banned the keeping of foxes in cages. Fox farming is no longer economically viable in Sweden and all fox farms in the country have shut down. Animal advocates hope to see similar regulations for chinchilla and mink farms in the future.
  • Switzerland banned the keeping of animals in intensive confinement which has made fur farming unprofitable. There are no fur farms in Switzerland.
  • United Kingdom: Under the Fur Farming (Prohibition) Act of 2000, England and Wales banned fur farming completely. All fur farms in England were shut down by January 1, 2003. Northern Ireland and Scotland, banned fur farming shortly afterwards despite not having had any operating fur farms for years. There are now no fur farms anywhere in the U.K.
  • U.S.A.: There is no federal law regulating the keeping or killing of cage-raised fur-bearing animals. No states have banned fur farming, but some states prohibit keeping foxes in captivity because of concerns about disease transmission to native wildlife. California has housing requirements for mink and fox that make fur farming of these species cost prohibitive. Wisconsin and Utah are currently the two top fur farming states.

Sources: HSUS, 06/18/04
CAFT-UK, 06/18/04

The following countries have banned the trade in cat and dog fur: Australia, Belgium, Denmark, France, Greece, Italy, and the U.S.A.

Canada has not banned the import, export or sale of cat and dog fur, and there is a real possibility that the fur is being sold in the large Chinatown areas of Toronto and Vancouver. The Canadian Government has said that “there are no plans at present to introduce measures targeted against the importation of dog and cat hair,” and “There does not appear to be a market for trade of fur from domestic animals into Canada. However, any fur, if properly labelled, not regulated by CITES and in accordance with all Canadian health and sanitary requirements, would be allowed into the Canadian market.”

Source: Lesley Fox, Fur Bearer Defenders, 06/22/04

A recent Gallup Poll measured Americans’ reaction to the moral acceptability of 16 of the leading social issues facing the nation. According to poll results, 31% of the American public believes that it is morally wrong to buy and wear clothing made of animal fur.

Source: Gallup News Service, 06/22/04

Fur industry insiders report that some of the foreign officials who were served with subpoenas for alleged violations of anti-trust laws are planning to ignore the subpoenas and not show up for court. Ignoring a subpoena can open them up to being held in contempt of court and the subject could be arrested if he returns to anywhere within the United States.

The Danish Fur Breeders Association will be leaving the Saga Furs cooperative on September 30. The Swedish Fur Breeders Association is also leaving Saga at a later date.

New York City’s plans to redevelop a 40-block area on the west side of Manhattan would have a negative impact on the city’s fur district. Much of the uptown garment district is included in this 40-block area and under the current plan it would be transform into an area of skyscrapers, high-rise apartment buildings and park land.

Source: Sandy Parker Reports, 06/28/04

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