This picture is from a trapper who used to live about 12 miles north of where I live.
In a 53-day trapping period this fellow brought in 1,220 fox, and I assure you he did not reduce the fox population in the slightest.
This trapper is dead now, but so too is the trapping industry, and for a very simple reason: fur is deeply inferior to synthetics.
Not only is fur more expensive, but seam-matching pelts makes for a lot of places to come apart on a coat. Who do you go to repair that?
Add in the difficulty in cleaning fur, the expense in professional storage in summer months (required to prevent insect damage), the weight, and the inferior heat holding qualities of fur, and it's not hard to see why the fur market is in deep trouble.
What's the latest? Just this from the Canadian Broadcasting corporation:
The North West Company, which owns Northern stores across the country, said the prices it's been getting for fur have been dropping from 50 to 70 per cent in some cases, making it impossible to continue in the fur trade.
"Due to unprecedented market conditions at this time — including historical lows for prices at auction and the high inventories that we have still available, we made the difficult decision to suspend purchases," said Derek Reimer, director of business development for the North West Company.
The move could be devastating for trappers in remote locations. In many communities, Northern stores are the only places to sell pelts and sometimes the only location to buy supplies.
"Northern stores are really important, especially if it's a community without a road," said Mark Studer, a longtime trapper in La Ronge, Sask.
"They have no way of driving to sell their furs or no accessibility to leave their town or community and travel south."
To be clear, it isn't pressure from "animal rights" folks that is killing the fur industry so much as a glut on the market of an inferior product.
Not only is fur inferior to syntehics, but wild fur is inferior to farmed fur where the coat colors are easier to match, the fox are all large and harvested at peak, and pelts are never damaged from burrs, scars, or shoddy field skinning.
How quick and complete is the fur industry collapse?
Consider this: North American Fur Auctions (NAFA), the largest buyer of fur in this hemisphere, is under creditor protection and is not expected to have any fur auctions next year, which means there is (literally) going to be a lot few markets for pelts.
Bottom line: the trapping debate is pretty much over and synthetics (and consumers) won.