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The Fur Trade Today - 02/14/04

Published 02/14/04

Industry insiders estimate that department and specialty store chains most likely are responsible for more than half the fur sold in the U.S. One high-end chain reported its January sales were up 16% over January 2003. Officials at BC International said that company’s sales were higher by “double-digits.”

Fur farmers in the U.S. are struggling because of the low prices they are being paid at auction. According to the U.S. Agriculture Dept., prices paid at auction for factory-farmed mink skins averaged $30.60 in 2003, down about 10% from 2002. When auction house fees were deducted, factory farmers cleared about $28 on average per skin. Production costs currently hover around the $28 to $30 per skin level.

The Chinese are becoming a player in the factory farming world, as they are now raising and killing between 3 million and 5 animals a year.

The recent Sojuzpushnina fur auction in St. Petersburg, Russia, featured 350 factory-farmed raccoon skins. Though the vast majority of raccoon skins entering the market come from animals who were killed by trappers, there is a small raccoon factory-farming industry.

Source: Sandy Parker Reports, 01/26/04

Belgium has banned the import and trade of fur from dogs, cats and seals, bringing the number of EU nations that have outlawed the trade in cat and dog fur to five (Belgium, Italy, France, Greece and Denmark). Belgium has also effectively outlawing commercial ties with Canada’s seal hunt.

The campaign against the trade is focusing also on the dangerously high chromium levels present in the tanning dyes used to disguise the appearance of the product. Fur products may contain as much as six times the level of chromium allowed under European law - a level shown to be hazardous to human health.

Source: Animal News Center, 01/25/04

Senator Bob Oke has proposed legislation — Washington Senate Bill 6285 — which guts the voter-approved trapping ban and commercial sale of pelts. SB 6285 allows the use of body-gripping to catch gophers, squirrels, beavers, other specifically defined “nuisance species” and includes a provision to restore some commercial sales of pelts.

The Humane Society of the United States opposes this bill, but supports House Bill 2371 which allows trapping of moles, gophers, coyotes and the mountain beaver.

Source: www.yakima-herald.com/premium/279660811737307.news</p>

Rex rabbits are the breed most commonly killed by the fur trade. According to the National Rex Rabbit Club, the breed was the product of a recessive gene first spotted in France in 1919. Rex rabbit fur is preferred by furriers because it has no prominent guard hair — the rougher top coat that characterizes traditional rabbit fur. Rex fur most resembles chinchilla or sheared mink.

Rex rabbits were imported into the U.S. in the 1920s, where their fur made them popular at livestock shows. But after the anti-fur movement began in the 1960s, Rex rabbit breeders retreated to backyard sheds, focusing on rabbit show competitions rather than fashion. “Ten years ago, you couldn’t give them away,” says Tom James, a Rex rabbit breeder in American Fork, Utah.

The rabbits were bred to have denser fur and to grow larger in size, as long as 25 inches (nearly three times the length of a traditional rabbit).

Source: The Wall Street Journal, 01/27/04

Bill 2846 would make it a gross misdemeanor in Washington State under the Fish and Wildlife enforcement code to use a hook to trap birds or animals. The bill has garnered a wide range of support from hunters, trappers, environmentalists and the general public. The bill grew out of an incident when a 2-year-old Labrador retriever swallowed a baited treble hook used to trap coyotes.

Ed Owens, chairman of Citizens for Responsible Wildlife Management, a nonprofit group that includes professional trappers, hunters and fishers, called the use of hooks “barbaric.”

Source: The Olympian, 01/28/04

Some facts on the Canadian seal slaughter:

The season for commercial hunt of harp and hooded seals is Nov. 15 to May 15, on ice floes off coasts of Newfoundland and Labrador. The majority of sealing occurs between early March and May.
Canada has set a quota of 975,000 harp seals for 2003-2005; sealers can kill 350,000 seals in two of the three years, but only 275,000 in the other year. Canada also allows the killing of 10,000 hooded seals annually.
The North Atlantic cod fishery collapsed in early 1990s, primarily because of over fishing. The Canadian Sealers Association says that seals are eating the fish and it is using this as justification for their hunt.

Sources: Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans
Canadian Sealers Association
International Fund for Animal Welfare

Compassion in World Farming and the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals have called on the Irish Government to ban fur farming. The number of animals killed on Irish fur farms is unclear, but well over 200,000 minks were slaughtered in 2000 and 2001. Only about six fur farms remain in the Republic of Ireland, but they are twice the size those that used to operate in the U.K.

Sources: online.ie, 01/29/04
CAFT-UK, 01/30/04

Fur retailers say that the month of January was turning out nicely, but they admit that January’s sales may not advance beyond those of January 2003.

The 2003-2004 sales season may go down as the one that put men’s furs on the map. Fur coats have gotten exposure from being worn by rappers and athletes. Male fur wearers range in age from 35 to 60, and black men buy and wear more furs than white men.

Fur garment imports into the U.S. increased in November, totaling $31.1 million, up 18% over November 2002. The 11-month total for 2003 was up 24%.

Source: Sandy Parker Reports, 02/02/04

A consignment of fur and hides worth Dh 10 million was impounded at Dubai International Airport in the United Arab Emirates. The contraband was being smuggled in violation of the country’s strict laws and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).

[Despite claims by the fur trade that the skins of endangered animals are not used, poaching of these animals increases significantly when fur is in fashion. The legal and illegal fur trades have more of a connection than furriers would like to admit — JM]

Source: Emirates News Agency (UAE), 02/03/04

The Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission has adopted a 76-hour trap check time for restraining traps set for predatory animals such as Coyotes, rabbits, rodents, feral swine and birds that may be destructive to agricultural crops. Trappers are allowed to leave snare traps alone for as long as a week if they can prove predators were damaging crops or livestock. In addition, the Commission set a 30-day check period for killing traps or snares. These laws are among the nation’s most lax trapping regulations.

The new rule does not affect the existing law that requires trappers targeting furry mammals, such as fox, bobcat, mink or raccoon, to adhere to a 48-hour trap check time.

There are 891 trappers registered with the state as of last count.

Thirty other states require that traps be checked every 24 hours

Sources: The Oregonian, 02/07/04
Associated Press, 02/08/04
BendBulletin.com, 02/09/04

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