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Conservation, Science and Canada's Fur Farming Industry, 1913-1945

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Abstract

Fur farming gained its greatest popularity during the 1920s, when nature conservation became prominent at the national level in Canada. Promoters claimed that fur farming, as a thoroughly modern answer to the apparent and inevitable exhaustion of nature, would eventually replace the wild trapping industry altogether. By the 1940s, however, the fur farm was in decline. Farmers operating small-scale enterprises faced problems with the management of their stock and much higher costs than did trappers. Economic considerations aside, promoters never managed to separate fur from the mystery of the wilderness. The new demand for "genuine" fur in the 1940s market might indicate that Canadian society believed that the north and its wilderness were no longer imperiled.

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... To avoid an increase in demand, governments could subsidize farmed products and keep prices high, to enable successful competition on the market (Abbott and van Kooten, 2010). The Canadian government, for instance, released fur farmers from taxes, lowered licence fees for fur farmers, and increased export fees for wild pelts (Colpitts, 1997). Furthermore, regulatory restrictions against wild products and awareness campaigns in favour of farmed products should be initiated. ...
... Wild populations of some crocodilians are recovering after 30 years of hunting restrictions and enforced trade in commercially-bred skin products (Thorbjarnarson, 1999;Moyle, 2013). Fur farmers also promote their products to be of better quality, as traditional trapping often damages the pelt (Colpitts, 1997). ...
... This is, however, not the case for all species and facets of the wildlife trade. The preference for wild animal products, for spiritual or status reasons, is generally not applicable to the pet and fur industry (Colpitts, 1997;Jepson and Ladle, 2005;Mattioli et al., 2006;Moyle, 2013). For such markets, wildlife farmers could offset competition by promoting the quality of their products, by for instance offering special breeds of pets (Jepson and Ladle, 2005), or animals free of infectious diseases (Still, 2003). ...
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Wild animals and their derivatives are traded worldwide. Consequent poaching has been a main threat to species conservation. As current interventions and law enforcement cannot circumvent the resulting extinction of species, an alternative approach must be considered. It has been suggested that commercial breeding can keep the pressure off wild populations, referred to as wildlife farming. During this review, it is argued that wildlife farming can benefit species conservation only if the following criteria are met: (i) the legal products will form a substitute, and consumers show no preference for wild-caught animals; (ii) a substantial part of the demand is met, and the demand does not increase due to the legalized market; (iii) the legal products will be more cost-efficient, in order to combat the black market prices; (iv) wildlife farming does not rely on wild populations for re-stocking; (v) laundering of illegal products into the commercial trade is absent. For most species encountered in the wildlife trade, these criteria are unlikely to be met in reality and commercial breeding has the potential to have the opposite effect to what is desired for conservation. For some species, however, none of the criteria are violated, and wildlife farming can be considered a possible conservation tool as it may help to take the pressure off wild populations. For these species, future research should focus on the impact of legal products on the market dynamics, effective law enforcement that can prevent corruption, and wildlife forensics that enable the distinction between captive-bred and wild-caught species.
... The fur industry has a long history. In Canada, it was intricately linked to settler colonialism and constituted an important economic sector that today remains only a marginal, craft-based economic activity (Colpitts 1997;Rantisi 2014aRantisi , 2014b. Traditional fur consumption in Western societies, established largely during the nineteenth century, combined use value-fur garments such as coats and caps were winter clothes-with the signaling of status difference, wealth, power, femininity, and attraction (Skov 2005). ...
... To integrate fur in the industrial processing of fashion, it was necessary to organize a steady flow of raw material in a predictable quality. It, thus, became necessary to farm fur-bearing animals (for early efforts to create "modern" fur farming in Canada, see Colpitts 1997) to transform living animals into packages of raw material, to assess the fur quality, and to pool and sort these packages according to quality. The raw materials were also traded for different types of further processing. ...
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Multiple challenges plague actors that commodify nature and create markets around products made from natural organisms. Primary among these is the reputational risk that results from negative impressions and moral contestations such as animal abuse, bad labor conditions, or pollution. In this contribution, we draw on cultural economic geography, and in particular the concept of dissociation, to demonstrate how supply side actors deal with such threats to their reputation. Geographies of dissociation provide a spatial perspective on the social construction of economic value, with a particular focus on the purposeful obfuscation of practices and the disconnection of discourses. We use the fur-fashion complex as a single case study, representing an extreme but instructive example, to study the agencies and effects of dissociative practices empirically. During our in-depth qualitative research on both the production and consumption of fur fashion, we focus on proactive and reactive dissociative strategies of the most powerful commercial actors in the field: fur-breeder associations and retail brands/brand owners.
... times higher than those obtained by hunters (Colpitts, 1997). ...
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Fur animal breeding has a long history. In many countries several fur animal species (including the red fox) have been recognized as livestock. The aim of this study was to estimate the pedigree parameters in the population of red fox on a Polish breeding farm. The data set consisted of information on 39 434 individuals, including 18 697 females and 20 004 males (733 animals were of unknown sex), from the years 1956–2016. The following pedigree parameters were estimated: average number of discrete generation equivalents, individual inbreeding coefficient, total and effective number of founders, effective population size, average relationship, founder genome equivalent, effective number of non-founders, and genetic diversity coefficient. The population size changed in successive years. The average inbreeding level was 5.34% for the population as a whole, and 6.04% for the inbred population. The estimated effective number of founders of the population was 84.18. The founder genome equivalent, which indicates the anticipated loss of genetic diversity caused by genetic drift, reached 9.59 in 2016 from an initial value of 34.22 in 1956. The loss of genetic diversity caused by the unequal contribution of the founder alleles did not change significantly over the years. Generally, the results indicate the good pedigree structure (including pedigree completeness) of the population studied. This implies reliable estimation of the inbreeding level, as one of the most important parameters in the genetic improvement programme.
... Fox farming in Canada originated in the late 1800's in Prince Edward Island (PEI) with the successful raising of wild silver foxes in captivity and the pioneering of selective breeding in foxes, resulting in the first commercial production of silver fox pelts. The interest in this profitable new industry led to national distribution of breeding stock and exportation to the United States and Europe (3,4).The European fur farming industry began with the importation of 2 silver foxes from Canada to Norway in 1914. Norway went on to pioneer numerous silver fox color mutations. ...
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Hereditary hyperplastic gingivitis is a progressive growth of gingival tissues in foxes resulting in dental encapsulation. It is an autosomal recessive condition displaying a gender-biased penetrance, with an association with superior fur quality. This disease has been primarily described in European farmed foxes. Here we document its emergence in Canada.
Book
To the surprise of many, regionally embedded clusters of small to medium sized businesses have continued to exist in spite of industrialisation and mass production. While scholars have discovered that the advantages of embeddedness in terms of industrialisation were situated in interfirm cooperation and conflict resolving mechanisms, it is far less clear how changing historical circumstances on the world market, i.e. globalisation, affected such systems. Taking a look inside Leipzig, a capital of the global fur industry between 1870 and 1939 with its numerous highly specialised businesses, both in production as well as trade, World Market Transformation examines the robustness of district firms within the highly volatile international fur business. This book examines how firm embeddedness not only served to overcome challenges related to industrialisation, but also strengthened the abilities of cluster firms to deal with changing world market circumstances. World Market Transformation integrates the "interior-biased" research tradition on local business systems and industrial districts into the "exterior" fields of global and transnational history. It is demonstrated that the local business district not only emerged because of the expansion of international trade, but that district processes of interfirm cooperation also gave shape to the spatial distribution, conventions and structures of the very same world market. The analysis of embedded communities thus offers an important instrument to examine phenomena of economic globalisation, but also how such macro-economic developments have been shaped and actively constructed by local actors.
20 Summary of fur farming in Canada, DBS Report for the Year 1919
  • Ian Sclanders
Ian Sclanders, ''You Take Two Foxes...'', Maclean's Magazine, January 15, 1947, pp. 18, 37-38. 20 Summary of fur farming in Canada, DBS Report for the Year 1919, p. 3. ''You Take Two Foxes'', p. 37.
History of Alberta Fur Farming
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GA, Gillis, ''History of Alberta Fur Farming''.
Fur and Game Resources
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GA, Jackson, ''Fur and Game Resources'', pp. 37-38.
Management of Marten, Fisher, and Lynx in Saskatchewan, with Special Reference to the Effect of Forest Harvesting in the Mixedwood Boreal Forest
  • G Michael
  • Boyd
Michael, G. Boyd, ''Management of Marten, Fisher, and Lynx in Saskatchewan, with Special Reference to the Effect of Forest Harvesting in the Mixedwood Boreal Forest'' (M.A. thesis, Department of Environmental Design, University of Calgary, 1978), pp. 5-15.
Fur-Goods Industry'' report for 1940 shows Quebec manufacturers producing 1,173 coats for men; Ontario produced 20, Manitoba 419 (perhaps reaching large numbers of francophones), and other provinces (mostly English-speaking) only 85
  • Dbs The
The DBS ''Fur-Goods Industry'' report for 1940 shows Quebec manufacturers producing 1,173 coats for men; Ontario produced 20, Manitoba 419 (perhaps reaching large numbers of francophones), and other provinces (mostly English-speaking) only 85 (p. 8).