Quick answers to common questions
How do we keep wildlife from being over or under harvested?
Regulation of commercial wildlife harvest is based on current population sizes and future population trends.
Usually the harvest is kept at the highest possible level that will not adversely affect population sizes and harvests in future years.
Harvest levels are monitored. By registering all trappers, trap lines and fur sales, government wildlife departments are able to determine the number of each species being harvested.
If a population of a certain species is in danger of being over-harvested, the provincial/territorial department may reduce trapping quotas, shorten seasons or close areas to trapping in order to limit the harvest.
If a population becomes over abundant the department may increase trapping quotas, set minimum quotas, extend seasons or open new areas where trapping is needed.
Why not just relocate unwanted wildlife?
Although relocation has been successful for some species such as bear and elk, it is relatively ineffective for other species. Often individuals simply try to return to their original homes.
Animals that have been successfully relocated may end up disrupting their new ecosystem or causing many of the same problems as before.
Relocation may result in death for introduced animals due to stress, starvation, predation, hostile encounters with resident member species, or other factors related to placing an animal in an unfamiliar and occupied territory.
Relocating animals also increases the risk of spreading diseases such as rabies, mange, distemper, and even some forms of transmissible cancers.
Relocation efforts may often not be possible because they are too costly or there is a lack of appropriate habitat available.
Most major animal protection and conservation organizations agree that relocation is not always the best course of action.
For all these reasons, many jurisdictions now prohibit the relocation of wildlife unless for special purposes such as well supervised conservation work with threatened and endangered species.
How do trappers avoid capturing unintended animals?
Animal species vary in size and behaviours, so no one type of trap or trapping method works for all species in all settings.
Most traps are species specific, meaning they are designed to capture a particular species or group of similar species.
How traps are set and located is determined by what species is intended to be captured. This reduces the likelihood of accidental capture of non-target animals
Non-target animals caught in modern foothold and cage traps can usually be released unharmed in the rare instance one is captured.
New traps under development promise to be even more species specific and trappers are kept up-to-date on the newest technologies and best ways to capture target species.
What types of furbearers are raised on farms?
Mink are the primary species raised on Canadian fur farms. Fox are also commonly farm raised in Canada and a limited amount of Chinchilla.
Fur farming accounts for about 85% of the fur produced worldwide (65-70% in Canada). In addition to fur, these animals provide us with valuable by-products used in cosmetics, consumer goods and fertilizers.
Where can trap lines be set in Canada?
Private property with landowner permission.
Trapper-owned or leased land.
Crown Land with government permission.
Municipal land with permission of the municipality.
Why do people trap?
Today, trapping is done as an annual pursuit by many people in the United States and Canada. In addition, many homeowners use trapping to deal with wildlife causing property damage. Farmers rely on trapping and hunting to help protect their land and livestock from damage caused by wildlife. And municipalities use trapping to control problem wildlife and feral animals.
According to wildlife experts, research has found that people who trap do so for many reasons, the most commonly listed ones are: lifestyle, nature appreciation, wildlife management, affiliation with other people, self-sufficiency (food, clothing), income (sometimes complimentary to their household budget, sometimes a critical component or an important safety net to household income). Most people participate for several reasons.
These surveys have shown that they consider the land and the utilization of wildlife as part of their lifestyle. Trappers also tend to have strong support for and participation in conservation programs and environmental protection.
Trapping is a means of providing food, clothing and other items for their households. Studies in New England and elsewhere reveal that trappers participate in bartering in many communities. They barter childcare, automobile repair, vegetables and other goods or services in exchange for pelts, trapping services, or the removal of nuisance wildlife causing property damage.
An important observation has been that trapping in today’s society has often been referred to as ‘recreational’ in the context of a ‘sport’. However, the body of existing research indicates that this term is a misnomer and not descriptive of the motives of the hundreds of trappers they studied.
Is fur farming eco-logical?
Fur farming has environmental benefits, such as providing a use for thousands of tonnes of animal by-products from human food production. Fur farmed animals are fed waste food purchased from fish and poultry processors and other farming sectors. Feeding these by-products, which are not intended for human use, creates a market that helps keep down the actual cost of human food production and that reduces the waste stream.
Since fur farming is not land-based, fur farms can be located in areas unsuitable for other types of farming: this makes productive use of marginal lands.
Raising fur animals is well suited to mixed farming since it demands the most from a farmer during the winter months when field crops need less attention. Straw from crops is used for bedding and to insulate cages, while the manure from ranched animals returns to the soil as fertilizer.
Fur farmers are also beginning to explore the use of farm wastes as a source of bio-energy that can power their own farms and beyond.
As a renewable natural resource and recycler, farmed fur is a sustainable product.
How are fur pelts sold?
Sale by public auction is the main way fur is sold. There are two auction houses in Canada, including the world’s third largest fur auction. Buyers from around the world attend these auctions held through the year.
Canada is also a centre for processing and manufacturing furs. Canadian manufacturers are renowned for wild fur garments.
How are fur pelts graded?
Pelts for sale are prepared by the trapper, on the farm or at custom pelting facilities.
Properly prepared pelts are graded for fur quality characteristics which include clarity of colour, texture, density, size and length of fur fibres
Is it wasteful to use animals for fur?
Furbearers provide us with more than just clothing.
The best artist brushes and fishing lures come from furbearers. Rabbit, fox, seal and mink hairs are used on fishing lures. The very finest artist brushes are made from the tail hairs of sables, minks and other weasels but other natural fibres such as wolf hair are also used.
Fine oils, fats and musk are used in the leather and cosmetics industries.
Teeth and bones may be used for handmade arts and crafts.
Farmed animals are also a source of bone and blood meals and organic fertilizers.
Beaver, muskrat and other fur animals provide food for many aboriginal and outdoors communities; animals not used for food are returned to nature to feed other wildlife through the winter.
Nothing is wasted.
How are fur farms changing?
Fur farmers have to adopt new technologies to improve their domestic and international competitiveness.
New manure handling equipment is used for better environmental protection. Computer controlled pelt processing equipment and computerized breeding records are starting to be used.
New technology in housing means a change to more traditional barn-style buildings. Cage sizes are changing as well. And increased biosecurity measures, to control the movement of animals and people onto the farm, protect animals from the risk of disease.
Does it make eco-logical sense to use animals for fur?
Today synthetics can be substituted for natural fibres such as furs, but synthetics are generally made from petroleum products which are non-renewable resources and not biodegradable.
Unlike the oil industry, fur harvesting is a non-disruptive use of our wilderness and has a much smaller ecological footprint than petroleum production.
Farming fur is an environmentally conscious activity and fills an important gap in sustainable agriculture and food production by making use of waste products to provide a variety of goods.
Fur farmers also make an important contribution to wildlife conservation. Farmed fur complements fur harvested as a part of wildlife management. By stabilizing supplies in times of heavy demand, fur farmers help wildlife managers focus on ecological needs, not on market demands.
From an environmental perspective, as long as trapping and fur farming are well managed, it is far preferable to use these natural fibres. Fur is renewable, long lasting, recyclable, biodegradable, and it is warmer than many other natural and synthetic fibres.
Why do people wear fur coats?
According to the Fur Information Council of America, warmth is the number one reason given by consumers when they were asked why they wear fur.
According to the Fur Council of Canada, a growing number of people are recognizing that fur is an environmentally sound choice.
How do I know where the fur comes from?
As a consumer or retailer, you can always ask about the origins of furs.
The Beautifully CanadianTM label is a guarantee that the garment is made from Canadian fur.
The fur trade also uses an international label of origin, Origin Assured TM(OA). This voluntary label is the consumers’ assurance that the fur comes from a country where national or local regulations or standards governing fur production are in force. The QA program is also a reflection of the fur trade’s commitment to fairness and honesty with their customers.
The label covers certain wild and farmed fur types and is used by countries, including Canada, that regulate fur production. Furs carrying the label can be traced down through the chain of suppliers, work rooms, tanneries, buyers and auction houses to the country of origin.
The amount of food waste used by fur farms in North American could fill half of Toronto’s Rogers Centre (Sky Dome). Over a billion pounds of food and agricultural by-products are diverted from over-burdened landfills – every year.