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The Fur Trade Today - 12/07/04

Published 12/07/04

A report by an engineer at the Ford Motor Company calculated that the amount of energy needed to make a real fur coat from farmed animals — accounting for 85 per cent of world production — is sixty-six times that needed to make a fake fur coat. This takes into account feed, cages, skinning, pelt-drying, processing and transportation. He calculated that a fur coat made from trapped animals still needs nearly four times the energy used for a fake fur coat.

In addition, formaldehyde and chromium — two of the chemicals used in fur processing — have devastating effects on the environment when they contaminate rivers and streams, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The waste may be responsible for respiratory problems, it says, and is potentially carcinogenic.

Source: The Independent, 11/23/04

The U.S. dollar continues to lose value against the Euro and other major currencies, causing those fur dealers who operate in dollars to not pay higher prices than they did a short time ago. The U.S. dollar is down 14% against the Canadian dollar since last May, and this will hurt Canadian vendors when their bills come due.

Source: Sandy Parker Reports, 11/22/04

Disappointing retail sales all over the world are being blamed on unseasonable mild weather in the world’s major fur markets. The weather in Russia and China has negatively impacted retail sales there, mainly because Russians and Chinese buy furs primarily to protect themselves from the weather. The fashion angle there is not as important to the retail fur industry as it is in Europe and North America. Economic and political problems are said to have cut into retail sales of furs in Italy, France, Spain, Germany, Japan and South Korea.

American retailers have been enjoying better sales figures during the normally slow months so the November slowdown has not hurt them as much as it could have. One area that is hitting American retailers hard is the service sector. Reports are that fur owners are leaving their coats in storage a little while longer than usual. One retailer in the Midwest has seen about 60% fewer customer retrievals than this time last year.

Upscale U.S. fur retailers are having better years than moderate-price stores.

Early reports are that 10% to 15% more animals will be trapped in North America this year than last. Particularly hard hit will be beavers, raccoons, and martens. Trappers reported that sales of traps and equipment over the summer had been “brisk.”

Source: Sandy Parker Reports, 11/29/04

The chinchilla fur farm in Skara, Sweden is in the process of closing down. All breeding animals have been killed or sold and there are only babies left that the fur farmer wants to keep until they grow large enough to kill. Activists have tried to save the animals, but the fur farmer refused to sell them.

There are now four chinchilla fur farms left in Sweden; Tagarp Chinchilla farm with 400 breeding females, one in Uppsala with less than 100 breeding females, one in Nossebro with less than 100 breeding females, and one in Solvesborg with less than 100 breeding females.

Source: Swedish AR group “Let the Tagarp-Chinchillas Live,” 11/29/04

Don Smith, 62, is one of northern New Jersey’s last muskrat trappers, a group he says that has dwindled to about four men. “It’s not a dying art, but it’s getting that way,” Smith said.

During last year’s trapping season, nearly 500 trappers — almost all from South Jersey — caught 56,413 muskrats. It’s by far the largest group of species trapped in the state, followed by raccoons and red fox.

Source: The Herald News, 11/29/04

Italy has enacted some strict animal welfare regulations that will be binding upon fur farms. This law can be found on the Italian Anti-Vivisection League website. [I’ve edited the language so the English is a little easier to read — JM]


D. LGS 146/2001 (Enforcement of Dir. 98/58/CE regarding the protection of animals in farms)

Fur animals farming must obey following regulations:

  • Minimal measurements of inside areas for farmed mink in cages (excluding nest):
    • 2550 sq cm for single adult animal;
    • 2550 sq cm for adult animal with kits;
    • 2550 sq cm for young animal after weaning, until two animals in one area.
  • The cage must be minimum 45 cm high, 30 cm wide and min. 70 cm long.
  • These measures are imposed upon new farms and also cover renovations to existing farms.
  • All farms that have cages smaller than 1600 sq cm area and/or less than 35 cm height, must adapt to above mentioned regulations by 12/31/2001; all farms that have cages with larger than 1600 sq cm area and/or over than 35 cm height, must adapt by 12/31/2005.
  • From 1/1/2008 fur farming is allowed only in the open air, in enriched pens built to be able to satisfy the animal’s welfare.
  • These pens must contain appropriate elements, as branches where animals can climb up, at least one den for each animal in the pen. The pen, must contain a nest measuring 50 x 50 cm for each animal. Additionally, minks must have available a container water 2 x 2 m wide and minimum 50 cm deep, in order to allow the animal to carry out of their own needs.

Source: www.antivivisezione.it

Since the use of rabbit fur has increased significantly in the last two years, retailers have tried to defend their sale of the product by saying that rabbit fur is a by-product of the meat industry. The following information from the Food & Agriculture Organization of the United Nations proves these claims to be false.

Angora rabbits are farmed solely for their hair. The only way a rabbit farmer can be sure of quality hair is to apply a very specific methodology quite different from that used in meat-rabbit production. The same can be said for Rex rabbits. The appropriate techniques make meat a by-product of the skin.

The world total of rabbit pelts is estimated to be one billion. In France alone annual rabbit skin production tops 70 million.

Few skins are retrieved from slaughterhouses: they are simply thrown away. “Meat rabbits” are slaughtered at an age or time of year when their coats have not fully developed; usually at 10 to 12 weeks. Their thin, unstable coats are not suitable for furs.

There is no hope of supplying quality furs under current rational production conditions for meat rabbits, particularly those slaughtered at 11 weeks. Skins from meat rabbits are used for hair (felt), hides (fertilizer, glue) and sometimes dressed skins.

Angora is the hair of Angora rabbits and is usually cut with scissors or electric or manual shears, or collected by depilation. Depilation has long been the technique of choice in France, scissors are used in China, and shearing is more common in Central Europe and South America.

Most premature deaths of adult Angoras occur during the days following hair collection as the animals then have problems maintaining proper body temperature. The rabbits become particularly sensitive to respiratory germs (pasteurella, coryza, etc.).

Source: Food & Agriculture Organization of the United Nations

Forever 21, a clothing store chain with twenty-six stores in the U.S. and one store in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, has made a commitment in writing to remove all fur from its stores and never sell it again. Forever 21 now joins a growing list of fashion outlets that refuse to do business with the fur trade.

Source: www.peta2.com

Scott Hartman of the National Trappers Association estimates that there are an estimated 150,000 fur trappers in the U.S.

Wildlife biologist Peter Picone of Connecticut’s Department of Environmental Protection says that “Beavers create great habitat for other animals. Wood duck, great blue heron, river otter — they all benefit from that habitat that beavers create” and that other benefits include flood control through water management, and water storage and purification.

Beaver expert Dietland Mueller-Schwarze of the State University of New York’s College of Environmental Science and Forestry in Syracuse says: “Here in New York they have a management plan where they want to keep the population limited to 20 or 30 percent of the available [habitat] sites along streams, with food and water, in areas where they won’t do damage to human works.” [This shows that beavers are not overpopulating their habitat — JM]

Source: National Geographic News, 11/23/04

According to Bob McQuay of North American Fur Auctions, there are about 60,000 active Canadian trappers. McQuay says “NAFA wants trappers to continue trapping. We have lost enough trappers. We cannot lose any more, especially at the political level. Trappers are at the base of the industry, and without trappers, nothing in the fur industry will remain.”

Source: Trapper & Predator Caller, December 2004, pp. 71–72

The Belgian animal rights group GAIA announced the results of a nationwide survey indicated that 79% of Belgians want fur farms to be banned in Belgium. The survey conducted by INRA at the request of GAIA polled Belgian residents over 18. More than one thousand people were questioned. The survey also indicated that only one Belgian household in ten owns a fur coat or a jacket with real fur trimmings.

Source: www.gaia.be, 12/06/04

There are fewer fur farms in Denmark this year (1,876) than last year (1,998), but the number of minks killed on those farms has increased form 12.2 million to 12.6 million during that time. The average number of breeding females being held captive on Danish factory farms has risen from 1,221 to 1,298.

China’s annual number of mink skinned is currently estimated to be between four and five million. This figure is expected to grow by 20% next year. The Chinese killed and skinned approximately 1.5 million foxes this year, and 800,000 raccoons. Both these numbers are expected to increase next year due to the growing number of fur farms.

Source: Fur World, 11/22/04

The trapper education coordinator for the Wisconsin Trappers Association has reported that two conibear “incidents” have taken place in the state since October, with the same trapper being responsible for both.

The trapper set a 160 conibear trap on private property, without landowner permission and caught and killed the landowner’s 6-1/2-year-old dog. The sheriff’s department cited the trapper for trespassing. In the second incident, this same trapper set a 160 on a trail that is used by hikers, hunters, fishermen, bird watchers, and people walking their dogs and caught a hiker by the foot.

Source: Trapper & Predator Caller, December 2004, p. 93

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