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The Fur Trade Today - 01/18/05

Published 01/18/05

Sales of furs will climb about 15 percent to a record $2.1 billion this year, according Southwick Associates which surveys retailers for the fur industry’s trade group, the Fur Information Council of America.

Fur sales account for roughly 2 percent of sales at department stores, said Richard Hastings, a retailing analyst with Bernard Sands LLC.

Neiman Marcus posted an 8.4 percent comparable sales gain in November, helped by rising fur sales including $50,000 sable ponchos. Neiman Marcus Chief Executive Burt Tansky said in a December 1 conference call that “ponchos and fur-trimmed accessories are selling very well.”

Less-pricey chains such as Sears are promoting furs and faux furs to last-minute holiday shoppers. Juanita Fields, fashion director for Sears, in an interview. “You can get great faux fur that looks like the real thing.”

Furriers and designers including Dennis Basso have added faux furs to their collections.

Source: Bloomberg.com, 12/25/04


According to Jim Buell, treasurer of the 450-member Montana Trappers Association, the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Department sells about 2,800 trapping licenses every year. A trapping license is not required to trap an unprotected predator so it is difficult to know exactly how many trappers are in the state. Predators like coyotes, badgers and red foxes, can be trapped anytime during the year.

Source: Ravalli Republic Online, 12/30/04


Sue Kazimirski said a friend found her cat “Cuddles” clamped in a leghold trap in her yard in Wai’alae Nui, Hawaii. The cat was rushed to the humane society, but he died the day before Thanksgiving. Kazimirski said she has no idea who tied the trap to a tree in her yard.

Source: The Honolulu Advertiser, 12/10/04


Prices for sealskins on the international market are said to be “booming.” Prices at the auction in North Bay, Ontario, averaged $70 per pelt — more than double the $30 average of 2002 and a 470 percent increase over the mid-1990s low of $15. The boom is driven largely by markets in Europe and Asia. A big impediment to the seal hunt fell in 1997 when the European Union began to allow some seal skins back in, relaxing its complete ban. The United States still has an import ban.

Source: The Globe & Mail, 12/25/04


Trapper Kevin Arsenault, a director with the Prince Edward Island Trappers Association, says the vast majority of incidents in which dogs are caught in snares are because of “irresponsible pet-owners” and not irresponsible and unethical trappers.

Snares have been in the news recently, following a close call involving a Charlottetown woman’s dog, who was killed by a snare as they were walking.

Arsenault said trappers are not legally required to get the permission of private landowners before setting snares and other traps on wooded property. That doesn’t apply to agricultural lands, where permission is needed.

Source: http://www.journalpioneer.com/news.aspx?storyID=27113, 12/31/04


Montana Trappers Association president Paul Schmidt says that since trappers key in on canine predators, companion dogs become susceptible to the traps. “There’s a lot of predator control work going on for coyotes and foxes and those traps will catch a dog because they’re set for a canine to begin with,” he said. The MTA’s education program addresses removing non-target species, like dogs, from traps, said Fran Buell, chairwoman of the MTA’s education committee.

The Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Department has a brochure on how to open the most common leghold, conibear and snare traps. The brochure is called “Releasing Traps and Snares,” and can be accessed on-line at http://fwp.state.mt.us/FwpPaperApps/hunting/trapping/trapbrochlegal.pdf

[Catching companion animals must be fairly common in Montana, otherwise they would not have a need to publish this brochure — JM]

Source: http://www.ravallinews.com/articles/2004/12/30/news/news06.txt, 12/30/04


American fur retailers are confident that sales during calendar year 2004 will exceed those of 2003. Sales gains are being attributed not to full-length coats but to the popularity of small pieces and accessories. Sales of conventional mink coats were said to be disappointing.

Source: Sandy Parker Reports, 01/03/05


Trappers are constantly contradicting themselves in regards to trapping being a highly controlled activity, but an article published in Trapper & Predator Caller magazine reports that there is no limit on the number of otters trappers can kill in Florida.

According to last year’s report from the Florida Fish & Wildlife Commission, there were only 226 licensed trappers in the entire state of Florida.

Source: Trapper & Predator Caller, 01/05, p. 41


According to the Hong Kong Fur Federation, Hong Kong consumes the furs of two-thirds of animals killed on fur farms worldwide. Exports surged by 40 per cent to HK$2.5 billion in the first three quarters of last year — a pace outstripping all the years since 1999, when total fur exports were valued at HK$1.4 billion.

Source: http://www.thestandard.com.hk/stdn/std/Metro/GA03Ak03.html


December retail sales increased enough in the U.S. to save the month for furriers who had been hit with poor sales because of the weather. Sales of accessories and small pieces have saved what could have been a disappointing sales month.

Fur sales in department stores and boutiques are up considerably and are likely to be responsible for much of the sales increases that have been made in the past couple of years.

Retail sales have picked up a bit in Russia and China, but unseasonably mild weather so far through the season has put a crimp in overall sales figures to the point where it may be difficult to erase the deficit for the month.

Source: Sandy Parker Reports, 01/10/05


Rick Reed let his dog, Bull, out of the car to run for exercise. The dog ran off into the woods, but didn’t return to Reed like he always had. With darkness falling, Reed grabbed a flashlight, found the dog’s tracks and followed them into the woods. A short distance in, he found the dog fatally caught in a snare trap.

The trapper had set his snare in a legal location, said Mick Chesterfield, of the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks. While it was a legal set, Reed estimates it was less than 100 feet from the road and that’s too close, he said, especially along a popular road like Swan Creek. Since his dog died, Reed has learned of a couple of other instances near Big Sky where traps were set near trails, and at least one instance of a dog being caught, but not killed, this winter.

Source: Bozeman Daily Chronicle, 01/09/05


The Chinese are most likely going to increase the number of raccoon dogs (a.k.a. finnraccoon and tanuki) that are factory farmed. The raccoon dog is a true dog that very much resembles the North American raccoon and its fur is used for hats, jackets, and full-length coats. China kills about 800,000 raccoon dogs per year, but substantial increases are projected.

Source: Trapper and Predator Caller, 01/05, p. 13


Swedish language Finnish newspapers are reporting that a company called Norlic has surveyed 153 fox farmers and 50% of them show a loss in their finances for year 2003.

When the factory farms that also slaughter minks are included, the figure rises to 60% of fur farmers in the red. Fur farmers and feed producers are calling this “a big crisis.” Several feed producers are saying that they now will be forced to stop making deliveries to some farms.

Sources (in Swedish): http://www.jakobstadstidning.fi/sokmotor/svar.php?svar=1624mparaden
http://www.jakobstadstidning.fi/sokmotor/svar.php?svar=1469mhuvudjuttu


Croatia is the largest world producer of chinchilla fur, killing enough animals (mostly by neck-breaking) to amount to 50% of the total world production of skins. In just 6 months, Chinchilla Co. Ltd. Was left with 10.5 tons of skinned chinchilla carcasses.

Source: http://www.prijatelji-zivotinja.hr/


Kandiyohi County Sheriff Dan Hartog says two Labrador retrievers died in raccoon traps half a mile from their owner’s home in Spicer, MN. The sheriff says the dogs were found by trapper Harry Johanson on January Fourth, two days after the dogs strayed from home. Johanson told the sheriff he knew the dogs were pets of Scott Stahnke’s children so he made it look like they were stolen, thinking the children might be comforted if they thought the dogs were still alive. The dog’s bodies were found in a gravel pit near Spicer Saturday. Hartog says a vet has determined their injuries were consistent with those inflicted by a raccoon trap.

Source: WCCO-TV website, 01/12/05


According to Wendell Bird, general manager of the Empress Chinchilla Breeders Cooperative based in Oregon, U.S. chinchilla farmers sold only 6,000 skins in 2004, down radically from 60,000 in 1989. Dave G. Woods, a breeder from Pennsburg, Pennsylvania, used to sell hundreds of chinchilla skins annually, but now raises the animals exclusively as “pets.” Woods is president of the Mutation Chinchilla Breeders Association, which is almost entirely “pet” breeders. Chinchilla fur farmers are retiring or quitting, but “pet breeders” have grown about 40 percent in the last five years, to 250, in the United States.

Source: Philadelphia Inquirer, 01/10/05

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