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THE 1995 EC Fur Ban: Opportunity For Canadian Trappers?

SASKATCHEWAN INDIAN      JANUARY 1992      v20 n07 p02  
On December 31, 1995 the European Community (EC) will start applying a new law restricting the import of 13 wild fur species (12 Canadian) to only those countries which have either banned leghold traps or trap according to international standards of humaneness. Of the major wild fur producers - Russia, Canada and the U.S.A. - only Canada has any chance of meeting these requirements.

This presents Canadian trappers with a market opportunity almost too good to be true. Of course, we could choose to punish our Europeans customers for making these demands on us by refusing to change our trapping practices, but it is unlikely that they would suffer very much if we disqualified our wild fur from their market. Or, we could react as smart entrepreneurs by changing our ways with the changing demands of our customers. This latter option would require: 1)some genuine effort on the part of trappers to learn new skills, and 2) a clear commitment from our federal/ provincial governments and our band councils to bring in new trapping regulations which will meet the EC import requirements.

Aboriginal trappers have a special challenge. It is possible that when 1995 arrives Canadian auction houses will refuse to accept furs shipped from areas not under provincial regulatory control (e.g. Indian reserves), because they would not be able to ensure their EC buyers that the animals were trapped in accordance with EC import requirements. This assumes that the provinces have made the necessary regulatory changes by 1995. There are as yet no guidelines here from the EC, but it is possible that the auction houses would accept furs from only those Indian reserves which have passed band council resolutions which either ban leghold traps, or implement trapping practices in line with the new international standards of humaneness.

Thirty percent of Canada's fur exports now go to Europe. There is a chance here to double the value, if not the volume, of those exports. The choice is ours. The reality is, trappers, trapping as a business must respond to market changes, if they want to maintain economic self-sufficiency.