We Went to a Fur Auction in North Bay
Turns out it’s where you can buy 90% of Canada’s legally harvested polar bear fur.
He said that they’re the “eyes and ears” of the Ministry of Natural Resources, who rely heavily on the numbers reported by hunting and trapping quotas to record data about the health and sustainability of certain species. He also made a point to note that trapping methods are constantly progressing, and the laws of trapping are based on making a kill as humane as possible. He summed it up as: “You can’t just dig a hole and put spikes at the bottom of it.”
From what I gathered, the government of Nunavut has a contract with certain Inuit groups who guarantee them at least $10,000 dollars per bear. Nunavut also has a contract with the Fur Harvesters Auction in North Bay, which is where they send all of the furs to be sold. If a fur sells for more than 10 G’s, the hunter picks up the surplus, if it sells for less (which isn’t likely) they still keep that guaranteed 10k.
Yesterday, Fur Harvesters released the sales numbers from Tuesday’s auction and stated that it set an “all time historical gross sales record… and this was made possible by the Chinese market that continues to dominate.” In case you’re too lazy to click through, they sold 24,078 muskrat at about $15 bucks a pop, the top wolverine wet for $800 bucks, and the prize grizzly bear ran some fur collector $1,550. Polar bear wasn’t listed in the results, but there were 150 bears laid out with each fur going for as little as $10,000 and as much as $30,000 USD. So if they were all sold, they would have been the highest earners, grossing somewhere in a conservative estimate of around $2 million.
IT’s obvious why the people who are on the fur industry’s front lines don’t want a lot of attention paid to the polar bear trade. Considering how controversial it’s made out to be, Fur Harvesters really could have told me to go fly a goddamn kite in a goddamn lightning storm, but they were remarkably open, accommodating, and understanding as to why I’d be interested in their line of work. The plight of the polar bear is more complex than simply ragging on the Inuit who have been hunting them for thousands of years, but I can understand why someone would look at a room full of 150 polar bear carcasses and freak the fuck out. It’s a tricky issue, but after my highly positive experience hanging out with the trappers, I’d much rather spend time with them than a bunch of anti-fur types who don’t see the appeal of hanging out in a room full of international ballers who are looking to buy new rugs. That’s just me though.
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