Animal Writes
21 April 1999 Issue
The Fur Trade Today

Update 4/18/99
Joe Miele - [email protected]
New Jersey Animal Rights Alliance

Evans Furs dropped millions of dollars off its sales plan and posted a fiscal
third-quarter loss of $1.7 million in mid-January. For the first nine months of
fiscal 1999, Evans lost $6.1 million, compared with a $3.2 million loss last
Source: Chicago Tribune - 3/20/99

Trappers freely admit that it is "nearly impossible" to eliminate the problem
of non-target catches. The problems stem from the simple fact that leghold
traps are non-selective. Leghold traps will spring on any animal heavy
enough to trip the pan. Lures for coyotes will attract any canines - including
domestic companion dogs. The trappers are always crying that dog
"owners" should not let their dogs walk where traps may be set.

The above is in contrast to the information contained in a brochure put out
by the NTA titled "Traps Today, Myths and Facts." This brochure states that
relatively few non-furbearers are caught in leghold traps set for furbearers.
This is an interesting spin on the truth. Leghold traps are often set under-
water for species like beavers and muskrats. This greatly reduces the
possibility that a non-target animal will trigger the trap. Leghold traps set
for fox and coyote however, are visited and triggered by other species all
the time. As previously stated, canine lures will attract any canine - fox,
coyote, or domestic dog. The facts remain that more non-target animals,
including companion animals and endangered species, fall victim to leghold
traps than the species that the trapper intends to trap.
Source: Trapper and Predator Caller April/May 1999

It was an extremely disappointing season for trappers, hunters and fur
buyers alike. Economic turmoil in the Far East and Russia jolted the fur
trade at the start of the buying season, and prices never recovered.
Adjusted for inflation, prices paid for many items fell to the lowest levels in
decades. Most country dealers stopped buying when they couldn't see the
goods they had on hand. Trappers in many areas could not find local
buyers for their pelts. Trapper associations canceled or consolidated sales.
Trappers and hunters alike became discouraged and stopped killing animals.
Ranched mink priced did not decline as much as ranchers and fur industry
executives had expected, however, the depressed market convinced some
ranchers to pelt out their breeding stock. Lower prices = less fur farms.
Source - Fur Fish Game April/99

Imports of furs into the US declined almost 13% from '97 to '98. The total
dollar value of imports for 1998 was $133.8 million, compared to $153.3
million in 1997. Canada remained the leading source of imports but still
showed a 14% decline from the previous year. Hong Kong/China is the next
largest source of imports and 1998 saw their exports to the US drop by 8%.
Only Italy showed an increase in the dollar value of furs shipped to the
US. Italy checked in with $11.7 million shipped - an increase of about 10%
over last year.
Source: Sandy Parker Reports 3/15/99 and Fur World 3/22/99

Mink ranchers were not pleased with the prices they were being paid at the
NAFA auctions in Lyndhurst, NJ last week. Prices were slightly up from the
Seattle Fur Exchange auction two weeks earlier, but their earnings were not
enough to cover their expenses. Because of this, further shrinkage is
expected in the number of mink farms in the US.

Furs from trapped animals did not sell well at auction, due to the absence
of Russian buyers and a generally reduced demand for furs. Less that half
the beaver, muskrat and lynx cat pelts were sold. Raccoon pelts were
largely withdrawn from the auction. These skins will be sold at the May 9 -13
NAFA auctions in Lyndhurst, NJ.
Source: SPR 3/22/99

While prices for mink pelts have been edging up slowly over the auction
season, prices are not very encouraging to the US and European mink
ranchers. The overall averages at the Seattle Fur Exchange (SFX) and
North American Fur Auctions (NAFA) sales were still not enough to cover
ranchers' costs.
Source: SPR 3/28/99

The prospect of a price war between furriers has many high-end American
furriers growing concerned. Overseas markets are grinding out cheaply
made fur coats to be promoted at extremely low prices. American furriers
fear this will demean and tarnish the luxury image of furs. A tarnished image
means fewer sales.
Source: SPR 3/8/99

One of the hottest fashion trends for the coming season will be furs that
reverse to their own leather or furs bonded to mohair. Lighter weight fur
coats are being made by eliminating linings and unnecessary stitching in
the manufacturing process.
Source: SPR 3/8/99

China has replaced Russia as the dominant buyer of mink and fox pelts.
While they are not buying as much as Russia has bought in the past, they
are doing their share to keep the international fur trade afloat. Coming as
somewhat a surprise to Western buyers, Korea has again made a showing at
fur auctions. Domestic fur demand is still strong in Korea and manufac-
turers are trying to spur on sales and begin promoting fur more than has
been done in the past two years.
Source: SPR 4/5/99

After 40 years of experimentation, Russian scientists have bred a fox who is
more docile and friendlier than the foxes who are currently raised on fur
farms. While these animals are more receptive to the sexual advances of
males and will conceive easier, they have developed some irregular
splotches of black and white on their fur. Geneticists and breeders are
working to get this "problem" resolved. Scandinavian countries are
interested in these calmer animals because of pressure from the animal
welfare community which wants to see animals suffer less in captivity.
Source: SPR 4/5/99

Go on to A Pigeon Hunter's Poem
Return to 21 April 1999 Issue
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