Most of us grew up with wonderful stories of Mama Bear and Baby Bear and we all love Bambi. But Nature is not Disneyland. To ensure the survival of species, most animals produce more young than Nature can support to maturity. These young animals will die of hunger and disease or will be killed by other animals. We can use part of this surplus without reducing wildlife populations. This is called “sustainable use”, a principle now recognized and promoted by all serious conservation organizations. The fur trade (and other wildlife use) also provides a financial incentive to protect the natural habitat of animals. And, even if there were no market for furs, trapping would still be needed in many regions to control the spread of disease (like rabies), to protect property, and to help maintain a balance with available habitat. Trappers are practicing environmentalists in a very real sense!
Fur farms are also environmentally sound: fur animals recycle leftovers from our own food production system (animal parts that we don’t eat, poorer quality dairy products or cereals, etc) to produce valuable products: furs, oils (to protect leather), and natural fertilizers (from composted bedding straw, manure and carcasses).
While fur apparel is relatively expensive (because of the work involved in producing it), we have to remember that most of the 70,000 Canadians in the trade are not wealthy: they are aboriginal and non-aboriginal trappers living in some of the most remote parts of our country; they are people living and working on family farms; they are artisans maintaining wonderful craft skills that have been passed on for generations.
For many trappers and aboriginal communities living far from urban centers, beaver and other wild animals are part of their everyday diet. Whatever they don’t eat is returned to the forest to feed other wildlife. Nothing is wasted.