The fur trade is part of Canada’s resource-based economy and one of Canada’s oldest and most historically significant industries. Four hundred years following its start, the commercial fur trade continues to use a plentiful Canadian resource in a sustainable and responsible manner and is an important contributor to Canada’s economy and ecology.
Canada’s fur trade contributes nearly $1 billion to the Canadian economy annually1.
“It is recognized that on the same area of land over a 100-year time period, the value of fur production is higher than forestry value.”
– Fur Institute of Canada
Canadian trappers and fur farm owners earn more than $320 million2 annually in pelt sales.
. Annual royalty and licence fees paid by fur trappers help pay for government managed wildlife and habitat conservation programs.
Estimated North American domestic annual retail fur sales: $4 billion3.
International Trade Value
In 2013, fur exports contributed $467 million to Canada’s balance of trade.4
Exports of pelts and fur apparel exceeded $ 816million in 2013.5
World retail fur sales totalled $35.8 billion in 2013.6
Canada’s most important fur markets are U.S., China, Hong Kong , Europe (Italy, Germany, Denmark, Poland, , Greece, .
While numbers vary year-to-year, the Canadian fur trade directly employs an estimated 60,000 Canadians full and part-time7.
In addition is spin-off employment in the supply and services sector, including feed and equipment suppliers, veterinary and research services, by-product production, marketers, business services, transport, crafts and design sectors.
Canada’s fur industry provides high skilled jobs and is a significant source of employment income for people in rural and remote areas.
Active trappers: 50,000 (including 25,000 Aboriginal people)
Number of licensed fur farms: 289 7
Fur-dependent businesses: 316 8
The highest numbers of fur farms are located in: Nova Scotia, Ontario, Newfoundland and Labrador.
The highest level of fur trapping occurs in: Quebec, Ontario, Alberta.
More than 85% of Canadian fur garment manufacturing is located in Montreal.
Canada is home to two internationally attended, auction houses, both located in Ontario.
Trapping occurs in virtually every country in the world; the commercial trapping of furbearing animals occurs in every region in Canada.
Trapping is highly regulated by the provinces and territories and no endangered species are trapped for use in the fur industry.
Canadian fur products are exported to Europe, , Asia and the USA.
More than 25 Canadian wild fur species are listed for use in the trade, the most common are: muskrat (28%), beaver (21%), marten (13%), squirrel (9%) and raccoon (5%). 9
Beaver garments are the single most important Canadian fur garment exported. 10
Many Canadian families rely on beaver, muskrat, lynx and other wild furbearing animals for food as well as income.
In addition to operating their registered private or public trap lines, professional trappers provide a valuable wildlife control service to private landowners and local municipalities across Canada.
About two-thirds of furs produced in Canada (and as much as 85 percent worldwide) come from mink and fox. farms. 11
In Canada, approximately 2.8 million mink pelts are produced by fur farms annually.12
In addition to fur, farms provide valuable oil (from fat) used in several medical and cosmetic products and as leather treatments, plus bio-fuels and composted fertilizer.
Trapping is highly regulated by the provinces and territories and no endangered species are trapped or used in the fur industry.
The farming and trapping of fur animals are provincially licensed and regulated. Farming and trapping are also consistent with international agreements such as CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species), the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the IUCN (World Conservation Union).
Provincial and Territorial wildlife biologists establish regional biodiversity plans to ensure healthy wild furbearer populations.
“Trappers receive training, and trapping is carefully regulated through registered trapping areas, harvest quotas, hunting seasons, and other measures to prevent over-harvesting and to ensure that the best available methods are used to promote responsible conservation.”
– Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources
An international agreement signed by Canada, Russia and the European Union in 1997 establishes scientific protocols for humane trapping standards. The United States signed a separate, but similar, agreement with the EU. Following ten years of testing, implementation of the Agreement on International Humane Trapping Standards (AIHTS) began in Canada in the fall of 2007. The Agreement requires that wild furs be taken in accordance with scientifically verified and internationally accepted humane systems.
Fur farmers, as with all farmers, must follow provincial/territorial regulations governing operational, environmental and animal care practices.
Federal, provincial and municipal governments have strict environmental regulations in place. Regulations include the distance farms must maintain from waterways, the handling of manure and compost, bio-security and pest management. Regular application/assessment processes and inspections are often a part of these systems. Environmental regulations may vary from province to province.
In Canada, farmers abide by the minimum industry standards outlined in the National Codes of Practice for the Care and Handling of Mink and of Fox, to ensure that animals are well cared for, and harvested humanely. These code were developed under the auspices of the National Farm Animal Care Council with the collaboration of producers, government departments, animal-welfare agencies, and veterinarians and scientists. Scientific research findings are the basis for these standards.
These codes addresses animal health and welfare concerns, namely; accommodation, food and water, care and supervision, health care, hygiene and sanitation, transportation of live mink, and euthanasia. These codes contain both mandatory and recommended guidelines and are increasingly becoming recognized under provincial animal protection laws.
Since 1983, more than $58 million has been invested in the internationally recognized Canadian trap research and development program. The research is coordinated by the Fur Institute of Canada and conducted at the Institute’s facility at the Alberta Research Council in Vegreville and in conjunction with veterinarians and professional trappers. 13
Trappers participate in ecological field studies, wildlife distribution and population studies, wildlife relocation projects, forestry management planning, wildlife vaccination programs, trap testing, and disease monitoring.
The Fur Institute of Canada is the official trap-testing agency for the Government of Canada and all provincial/territorial governments.
“Fur-animal research results have in many instances been incorporated into law and/or trapping and farming practices.”
– International Fur Trade Federation
Farmed fur associations have initiated or contributed to Canadian research and development in furbearer health, nutrition, behaviour, housing and management. The Canadian Centre for Fur Animal Research operates out of Dalhousie University. It is a centre of excellence that carries out and facilitates education, as well as research and technology development in a number of areas related to carnivorous, fur-bearing animals. Its partners include government and industry groups and has a national mandate. Farmed fur research is also conducted out of the University of Guelph.
Individual farmers also contribute by providing their farms for on-farm research projects or by conducting their own research projects under the guidance of research specialists.
1-International Fur Federation
2- STATISTICS CANADA, 2012
3-Fur Council of Canada, Fur Information Council of America, 2012
4-STATISTICS CANADA, International Trade Division, 2013
5-STATISTICS CANADA, International Trade Division, 2013
6-International Fur Federation
7-STATISTICS CANADA 2013
9-STATISTICS CANADA, , 2012
10- STATISTICS CANADA, 2012
11-STATISTICS CANADA, 2012 Census of Wildlife Pelt Production
12 Truth About Fur
13- Fur Institute of Canada