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The Fur Trade Today - 12/01/05

Published 12/01/05

A trapper from Chisholm, MN, has become ensnared in a court case that could cost him $11,200 in fines and more than three years in jail.

Roderick R. (Rick) Kottom, 56, was arraigned last week on trapping and natural resource violations in St. Louis County District Court. He has been charged with a failure to check traps, a gross overlimit of wild animals, possessing a marten in a closed season, unlawfully buying or selling wild animals and failing to provide identification of traps or snares.

Source: Star Tribune, 11/02/05

Canadian seafood/tourism boycott encouraged by U.S. humane group

Yet another blow has hit B.C.’s beleaguered tourism and fishing industries.

The 9.5 million-member Humane Society of the United States recently called on Americans to boycott Canadian seafood until this country “permanently” halts the annual East Coast seal hunt.

Source: Victoria News, 11/02/05

Newfoundland sessions weigh future of East Coast seal hunt

ST. JOHN’S, NFLD. — Fish harvesters, conservationists and federal officials will gather in Newfoundland this week to discuss the future of the East Coast seal hunt, as hunt opponents try to rally the Canadian public against the controversial harvest.

The most vocal opponents of the hunt are boycotting the meeting, saying they will focus on organizing against the slaughter rather than waste time lending credence to a “staged event.”

“The forums themselves, they’ve proven to be incredibly frustrating,” said Rob Sinclair, spokesperson for the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) in Canada.

Sinclair said IFAW has been to at least four previous forums, produced hundreds of pages of documents and seen no result.

Source: Canadian Press (CP), 11/07/05

Lazare’s Furs, based in Windsor, Ontario, celebrated its 80th anniversary with a pair of Saturday in-store events that attracted over 250 clients. A third event was a dinner and fashion show for the benefit of the local Cancer Center. The show, in which furs were modeled by nurses, doctors and even patients, drew broad local press coverage and raised an impressive amount to help cover the cost of a new MRI machine. Lazare’s also operates a store across the border in Detroit.

Source: Sandy Parker Reports, 11/07/05

The Fur Information Council of America has distributed over 500 copies of its book of images from this year’s collections to members of the fashion media and stylists. The 36-page full-color publication also contains a compact disc for easier reproduction of the nearly 100 photos. They run the gamut from easy and sporty to dressy and formal for both women and men and include fur-trimmed garments and accessories. For further information, contact FICA at 323-848-7940, or by email at www.fur.org.

Source: Sandy Parker Reports, 11/07/05

Russian fur farms struggle to survive

From Soviet leaders to high society icons, a Russian fur coat was once seen as a desirable status symbol. But as Russians increasingly favor foreign imports, the Pushkino fur farm near Moscow is barely surviving.

The problems of Russia’s fur industry are unrelated to ethical scruples of the kind that have put the industry under pressure in the West. It is the sector’s inability to keep up with Western brands since the collapse of communism that is the problem, experts say.

The farm at Pushkino was once the most celebrated in the Soviet Union. But a glance at its run-down buildings shows how far things have slipped.

“When I came here a year and a half ago I was shocked,” said Nikolai Yumanshev, a former space industry official recently installed as chief executive after the farm was bought by a young millionaire, Denis Lavrov. It had already declared bankruptcy.

Even now, dealing with a legacy of neglect left by the previous state management is proving an uphill task.

The animals at the farm were underfed, the mothers were giving birth to fewer and fewer offspring and the quality of the pelts had suffered.

Source: The Standard, 11/09/05

Harvesting of the new crops of ranched and wild furs is now under way and, based on the strong windup of the season just ended, expectations are for a continuation of that strength in the auction season ahead. Pelting of mink has already begun in North America and Europe and central processing plants are in full operation, mostly on mink whose furring process has been expedited by melatonin implants. As previously noted, worldwide production of mink this year increased more than 7% to a record 40.2 million, largely in response to soaring demand from the rapidly expanding markets in Russia and China, which have been fueling the steady upward climb in pelt prices.

Source: Sandy Parker Reports, 11/14/05

Canadian manufacturers are adopting a global branding and image-building strategy in a move to protect their domestic and export markets from intense offshore competition. The Fur Council of Canada has launched a campaign around the theme “Beautifully Canadian” to promote fur garments and accessories manufactured in Canada. Among the features are a four-page insert in the November issue of Vogue, billboards in and around Montreal, Toronto, and other major cities, in-store promotion materials, as well as labels and hangtags. Most of the garments involved are beavers and other wild furs, but also minks manufactured in Canada.

Source: Sandy Parker Reports, 11/14/05

Like the rest of the Canadian garment industry, explained FCC executive vice-president Alan Herscovici, “We face a very serious challenge from low labor-cost producers in Asia. In response, we will play to our strengths: a national heritage industry with extraordinary craft skills, the world’s most beautiful furs — and an economically important and ecologically responsible industry.” Canada, Herscovici pointed out, “has one great advantage over the rest of the fashion industry: fur is part of our national heritage and the identification of Canada with winter and beautiful fur is recognized around the world.”

Source: Sandy Parker Reports, 11/14/05

The Fur Information Council of America is urging donations of used fur garments to Friends of Fur Fashion, a non-profit, tax-deductible 501 (c) 3 organization that turns them over to Project Angel Food, a Los Angeles-based charity that delivers free meals to people affected by HIV/AIDS and other life-threatening illnesses. The furs are cleaned, glazed and repaired and sold as part of a “Vintage Fur Boutique” at Divine Design, an extravaganza of designer home furnishings and clothing each December that has become Project Angels’ key fund-raising event. For the past two years, the fur boutique has been one of the top three fund-raisers at the affair. For further info: Call 323-848-7940.

Source: Sandy Parker Reports, 11/14/05

As a result of a years-long campaign by animal activists groups against a well-established animal research organization, using tactics that include violence, intimidation and harassment, the U.S. Congress is considering legislation that would broaden the powers of the Justice Dept. to combat eco-terrorism. One measure, introduced by Sen. James M. Inhofe, would expand the scope of the Animal Enterprise Protection Act, would address intimidation of secondary and tertiary targets associated with animal enterprises, further increase the penalties and provide other prosecutorial tools. A similar measure has been introduced in the House by Rep. Thomas Petri. In both cases, members of the fur trade, acting through a coalition known as Fur Wraps the Hill, have been working with the two legislators and their staffs for the past six months on this issue.

Source: Sandy Parker Reports, 11/14/05

Gucci under fire as MPs back call for sealskin ban

The importation of all seal products into the United Kingdom should be banned, a leading anti-fur campaign group urges today as the annual Canadian hunt season begins. Releasing an opinion poll suggesting that 73% of the British population would support “moral” trade restrictions, Respect for Animals — formerly known as Lynx — also condemns the fashion label Gucci for promoting a new “ebony sealskin fur coat.”

Around 300,000 harp and hooded seals, most of them pups, will be killed this year in Canada’s commercially licensed hunts. Opponents claim many animals are merely stunned and remain conscious while being skinned.

Source: The Guardian, 11/15/05

The new retail fur season may be officially under way around the world, but not all the major markets are reporting that business is off to a healthy start. The reason most frequently offered is all too familiar: Extended mild temperatures, or cold spells that are too short-lived to get the message across to consumers that winter is just around the corner and that preparations should be made. Despite fur’s renewed prominence in the fashion picture and its important role in today’s wardrobes, consumers are demonstrating that they’re not ready to buy furs until such times as they can wear them. At the same time, however, retailers report that what is selling are lighter weight items such as sheared and knitted furs.

Source: Sandy Parker Reports, 11/21/05

The Fur Information Council of America is in an economic squeeze that poses a threat to its viability. The industry’s main promotional, legislative and watchdog organization has been losing financial support because its “1% Solution” program is being eroded. The program, in which manufacturers contribute 0.5% of their sales and which is matched by their retailer accounts, has been faltering because much of the business has gone offshore. In addition, it was learned that B.C. International, reportedly FICA’s biggest contributor, has been withholding its support. BC president Chris Spyropoulos could not be reached for comment.

FICA executive director Keith Kaplan acknowledged the situation, but declared that this year’s programs will be completed. Next year’s budget, he said, has not yet been set. Among its more notable activities have been its Hollywood project, which puts furs on top celebrities in film, TV and music; Fur wRaps the Hill, which has resulted in proposed legislation to combat terrorism, and various programs to assist retailers. The big problem, according to Kaplan, is that not enough people in the trade who are benefiting are participating.

Source: Sandy Parker Reports, 11/21/05

The past weekend ushered in the holiday shopping season, which was kicked off by ‘Black Friday,’ regarded as the biggest shopping day of the year and so named by retailers for the black ink it brings to their books.

That day also is the biggest of the year for animal activists, who call it ‘Fur-Free Friday’ and conduct demonstrations at important locations in key cities across the U.S. [This is an error: Fur Free Friday is the day after Thanksgiving, 11/25/05 — Ed.] Such exercises have been relatively muted in recent years and have generated steadily decreasing coverage by the media. This year’s activities were scheduled to begin as we went to press and there were indications that the various organizations would be stepping up their efforts. At the same time, the Fur Information Council of America distributed a new handbook to retailers to help them address the issues. The 28-page booklet aimed at helping FICA members answer questions from customers and the press as well as deal with demonstrators.

Source: Sandy Parker Reports, 11/21/05

Fur Free Friday (11/25/05, the day after Thanksgiving)

Here are links to some of the media coverage of the American animal protection movement’s annual “Fur Free Friday.”

Beverly Hills: Approximately 70 activists in Beverly Hills, Calif. marched past 29 stores that sell fur and fur trim in the Rodeo Drive shopping district. Their event was covered by two TV stations, a newspaper and a radio station. www.lacitybeat.com/article.php?id=2926&IssueNum=129

Boston: “Animal activists push Copley shoppers to shun fur”

Denver: “Wearing fur a faux pas, mall demonstrators say”

Ft. Lauderdale: www.palmbeachdailynews.com/news/content/news/shopping1126.html

Portland: The Oregonian newspaper and two TV stations covered Portland’s annual 1.5 mile march against fur.

St. Louis: www.kansascity.com/mld/kansascity/news/local/13257563.htm

See pictures of the DC event here and here.

For pictures and information on Fur Free Friday events across the U.S., see the In Defense of Animals’ website, www.furkills.org/fur_free_fri_2005.shtml

Sir Paul McCartney has vowed never to perform in China after seeing horrific undercover footage of dogs and cats being killed for their fur.

The former Beatle also said he would boycott the 2008 Beijing Olympics after viewing the footage taken in a fur market in Guangzhou, southern China.

The film shows animals being thrown from a bus, and into boiling water.

A Chinese official said boycotts were not justified, and blamed US and European consumers for buying the fur.

In the film, dogs and cats packed by the dozen into wire cages little bigger than lobster pots are pictured being thrown from the top deck of a converted bus onto concrete pavements.

Source: BBC Six O’clock News, 11/28/05

Kopenhagen Fur, which launched a color-coded label program a year ago, is taking it a step further by establishing exclusivity for its top-quality purple label. The company is setting up The Purple Club, whose membership will be limited to 100 of the leading fur retailers around the world who meet certain criteria. Characteristically, these will all be luxury stores. Although it will offer about 100,000 female pelts of purple quality in the coming season (out of a total of 16 million), only members of the club will have use of the purple label. Other buyers of that quality will receive the platinum label. Since the label program was introduced last year, the company has issued some 373,000 labels for its four qualities (purple, platinum, burgundy and ivory), but fewer than 2,900 were for purple.

Source: Sandy Parker Reports, 11/28/05

Finnish fur designer Tua Rahikainen, disturbed by news reports that victims of the recent earthquake in Pakistan were receiving too little support, came up with a program of her own and it apparently has been snowballing. She posted a notice on her store window asking for donations of old furs that would be sent to Pakistan for distribution to people in the country’s cold mountainous regions. It became a small article in a Swedish-language newspaper under the headline: Fur Coats Can Save Lives and immediately resulted in contributions of more than 60 garments.

The big break came in the form of a full-page article in Finland’s biggest newspaper, complete with color photos of Rahikainen’s small shop.

By last week, nearly 2,000 coats had been gathered and Finnair volunteered to fly them free, along with other garments, tents and blankets, to Bangkok, where they will be forwarded to Islamabad and then to the earthquake area. The diminutive furrier, whose family business once flourished in Helsinki, has downsized it to a custom shop which she operates with a single employee of 35 years.

Source: Sandy Parker Reports, 11/28/05

J. Crew says fur is out

Claims move was made for business reasons and not related to PETA campaign.

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) — Clothing retailer J. Crew Group Inc., which has been the target of an anti-fur campaign, will no longer sell products made with fur, a company spokesman said Wednesday.

J. Crew made the decision about a month ago for business reasons, according to spokesman Owen Blicksilver, who added that the move was not related to the campaign by animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA.

Source: CNN (Reuters), 11/30/05

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