Three months ago, we launched the Great Fur Burial. This is what we buried – mink on the left, fake fur on the right. How do they look now?
The fur industry is proud of the many ways in which fur is eco-friendly, including that after decades of use, it biodegrades. In contrast, when fake fur made from petrochemicals reaches the end of its useful, and typically very short, life, it goes in a landfill where it will sit until the end of time. Or will it? In pursuit of knowledge and truth, we decided to do a little experiment: the Great Fur Burial.
On May 14, we took a mink stole and a fake fur vest, cut them into equal-sized pieces, and buried them. Above is how the pieces looked on burial day. After 3 months, 6 months, and then once a year for five years, we would unearth a piece of the mink and a piece of the fake fur to check for degradation. This experiment is hardly scientific, but it only has to show one thing: do they rot, or not?
Are you interested in studying fur design and learning the technical skills involved in producing fur garments and home accessories? There are only a handful of courses around the world that teach these skills, and one of them is in the north of Finland.
The first thing that caught my eye when I walked into the fur design studio at Centria University of Applied Sciences were the fox pelts. Everywhere. Scraps of fox in boxes, coloured fox pieces being sewn into garments, rails of fox clothes, and the pièce de résistance, a multi-coloured fox beanbag chair (to die for would be an understatement here).
But then again, what would you expect when taking a fur design course in the country famed for its fox pelts?
Left, the beautiful Allegro campus in Pietersaari, and right, a fox fur beanbag.
The legal tussle over hunting of Great Lakes wolves seems set to last for many more years. Photo: National Park Service.
July may be the slowest month on the fur calendar, but some issues never go away, especially if they enter the legal system. Take the Great Lakes wolves. The hunt was off, then it was on, and now it’s off again. It’s supposed to be about the numbers, but the precautionary principle must trump all, says Nancy Warren of the National Wolfwatcher Coalition. “Wolves have reached the numeric goals for delisting” in Minnesota, she concedes, but when they’re faced with threats like climate change, current numbers apparently don’t matter.
Taking the lead against the Great Lakes wolves lawsuit filed by HSUS is the Ohio-based Sportsmen’s Alliance. Truth About Fur interviewed spokesman Brian Lynn on today’s trapping challenges in general. Though most of the Alliance’s members are hunters and fishermen, it is strongly committed to the interests of trappers too. “Trappers are the ones on the front lines,” he says. “They are constantly under attack [from] animal rights organisations, legislation, the ballot box … Whether it is changing the seasons, eliminating the seasons, or regulating traps, they are getting hammered left and right.”
The next major battle will be fought in Montana, where a ballot initiative is coming up this November that could stop all trapping on public lands. Pundits are saying it could go either way.
Liz Lemon (Tina Fey) was sloshed with red syrup for an episode of the NBC comedy series 30 Rock. An alarming number of netizens believe this was a real PeTA attack!
There’s a common misconception that if you wear fur in public, you’ll get red paint or pig’s blood thrown on you. This is an urban myth that’s been around for decades, and we are here to reassure you that it will not happen! In fact we, and others, can’t find any evidence of this ever having happened to a regular person, and believe incidents involving celebrities can be counted on the fingers of, well, two fingers!
So prevalent was this myth in the 1980s and ’90s that some North American furriers offered to clean their customers’ furs for free if they were attacked with paint. But they never had to follow through on their pledge because it never happened. In fact, some animal activists even complained that the myth of attacks with red paint was invented by the fur trade to discredit them!
So, to answer the question, no, you will not get paint thrown on you if you wear fur. Here’s why.
The Sportsmen’s Alliance is a US organisation that protects the outdoor heritage of hunting, fishing, trapping and shooting in all 50 states. Between fighting in the courts, political lobbying, and countering campaigns by animal activists, they are kept busy. We talked to Vice President Marketing and Communications Brian Lynn about trappers, hipsters and sound bytes.
Brian Lynn: “Trappers are the most active, passionate, and engaged audience there is.” Photo: Sportsmen’s Alliance / Brian Lynn.
Alexandra: What percentage of your members are trappers versus hunters and fishermen?
Brian: I’d say somewhere between 10 and 20%. It’s not a huge number, but the trappers are the most active, passionate, and engaged audience there is.
Alexandra: Interesting you say that, because we think that too.
Brian: Trappers are the ones on the front lines. They are constantly under attack.
Alexandra: Are you referring to the amount of legislation that people are trying to put into place to try and ban trapping?
Brian: Yes. Animal rights organisations, legislation, the ballot box – trappers are constantly under attack. Whether it is changing the seasons, eliminating the seasons, or regulating traps, they are getting hammered left and right.
Alexandra: Do you think that trappers are getting attacked more because they are fewer in number? Or perhaps because in the US hunting is more associated with a weekend pastime?
Brian: It is both. There aren’t as many trappers, so it is more of a fringe endeavour. Also it lacks the idea of a sport – of you versus the animal. To the uninitiated, it just seems like you are going out there, putting some bait out, and whether a wolf, bobcat, bear, or your dog comes along, they get snapped up and killed cruelly. It looks barbaric, and it is a hard sell for us to protect. It is an easier sell to misrepresent. People already are ignorant about it; urban people are like, “You do what?” It is a harder thing to protect because of the ignorance, and it lacks the perception of sport and the “you versus the animal.”
Every month, as I read through the past month’s fur news headlines, I think to myself, “Wow, this animals rights activism story is even stupider than the ones from last month.” This month is no exception. In fact, June might be hard to beat because the activists have been up to some seriously stupid stuff. Let’s have a look.
By Alan Herscovici, Senior Researcher, Truth About Fur
True life stories of a Métis trapper and his love for the land, his family and friends
Holding a trapping workshop in 1986 with war veteran Roland Giroux. Here Alcide demonstrates a small Conibear trap used for marten.
A primary goal of Truth About Fur is to give a voice to the real people of the fur trade. So what a pleasure it is to tell you about a newly published autobiography by one of Canada’s foremost trappers and trapping advocates, the legendary Alcide Giroux.
My First Sixty Years Enjoying Nature as a Trapper promises, and delivers, a passionate and epic tale of a life lived in close harmony with the land: hunting, fishing and trapping. And thanks to Alcide’s extraordinary memory, he shares many wonderful adventures with us in vivid detail.
The story begins in December 1951, near Sturgeon Falls, Ontario. Alcide was just six years old when his father moved their family onto the old homestead his grandfather had cleared and built in the early 1920s. There was no electricity or indoor plumbing, and young Alcide and his siblings had to cross the Sturgeon River in a small homemade boat before walking to school – a walk that provided opportunities for the young Alcide to snare rabbits to complement the moose and beaver in his mother’s stew pot. It was God’s Country back then, Alcide tells us, with wilderness and wildlife all around. Their trap lines began at the farmhouse door.