North Bay (Canada) (AFP) – Balancing the prey, Ray Call, a Canadian engineer, goes cautiously: a large black seal caught that day was trapped two days ago.
From now on, some of those who live solely on the income of this ancestral activity, today are highly regulated. But many tens of thousands are still active in Canada, including many natives.
Ray Call proudly describes the country as “the oldest industry”, playing with goatskin and sunglasses. In his spare time, the man traps musk, fox, wolf, and coyote on land about three hours north of Toronto.
“There will always be a need for hunters whether the market is there or not,” he says, guarding his back in a plastic container before taking the beaver with him.
Decreases in activated spaces, then winter due to global warming, rising petrol prices and falling fur prices … “Catching up, financially speaking, is increasingly difficult,” he tells the 70s, next to Tom Bork. One-year-old own engineer, retired from the gas industry.
“It’s hard because it’s part of our heritage, who we are. Stopping this is like leaving a part of you,” admits the man, who was born in northern Ontario.
In general, the neglect of fur by many luxury brands, the absence of Chinese buyers due to the epidemic and the recent war situation in Europe further complicated the situation. Two major markets for the sector.
But Robin Harvath, head of the Fur Institute’s Institute of Canada and director of the Droppers’ Federation, which oversees the fur industry, says the worst is over for a “stabilized” industry after reaching “the lowest point of the cycle.” From the camel.
Thousands of skins
Canada produces the largest wildlife skins in the world: about 415,000 pieces worth $ 13.8 million (approximately $ 11 million) were sold in 2019-2020.
At North America’s last major fur show, fur harvesters’ auction (FHA), brokers are busy ahead of online auctions forced by the Kovit-19 epidemic in North Bay, 350km north of Toronto.
In this vast warehouse tens of thousands of skins of wild animals like lynx, foxes, wolves, black bears are bundled up and hung in large layers sorted by size, color and quality.
With a hand list and pencil, broker Michael Roberg turns into the eyes and hands of his overseas clients, for whom he meticulously inspects every skin before opening an online auction.
“Because this is a luxury market, we are naturally the first to suffer when a crisis occurs.” “The world can live without a piece of skin,” says Michael Roberz, a Montreal-based businessman.
“The fur industry is old and has had a lot of ups and downs over the last 400 years,” said Mark Downey, FHA’s managing director.
In recent years in Europe and North America, increasing pressure from animal welfare and consumer associations has led many major luxury brands such as Dolce & Gabbana, Burberry and Chanel to abandon the use of fur.
Downey laments that “the departure of Canada Goose is undoubtedly a black moment for the industry,” however, hoping that other manufacturers will fill the “vacuum” left by the Canadian company.
Until then, the sector will have to overcome the absence of two key markets: Ukraine and Russia, the second most important consumer, currently in the crosshairs of Canada’s sanctions … with the risk of a domino effect.
“Russia’s war in Ukraine is a big disadvantage because our big buyers from Greece, Italy and Turkey are selling to these two countries,” Downey laments. But, especially in Asia, he promises, “because demand is so great, it will continue again.”
© 2022 AFP
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