'Taxpayers will be on the hook': Fur traders' group says Canada Goose decision won't stop culling

·3 min read
Despite a decision by Canada Goose to no longer use coyote fur on its upscale parkas, the Fur Harvesters Auction in North Bay, Ont., says it had a successful year selling inventory online to global consumers. (Tracy Fuller/CBC - image credit)
Despite a decision by Canada Goose to no longer use coyote fur on its upscale parkas, the Fur Harvesters Auction in North Bay, Ont., says it had a successful year selling inventory online to global consumers. (Tracy Fuller/CBC - image credit)

A decision by Canada Goose to no longer use coyote fur trim on its signature parkas by end of 2022 could cost taxpayers, according to a group representing Ontario trappers, saying the animals will still need to be culled to control the population.

"These animals are going to be trapped and managed whether they're used on garments or not," said Robin Horwath, general manager of the Ontario Fur Managers Federation.

"If the trappers aren't doing it to help manage this on behalf of the provincial government ... [then] taxpayers will end up paying for somebody — whether it's a trapper, or they get an employee with the city or whatever — to capture these animals and do away with them."

"Taxpayers will be on the hook to pay for this sustainable management of fur bearers."

Founded in Toronto, Canada Goose sold a majority stake to a U.S. private equity firm in 2013 to help expand its international market.

The winter apparel company announced Thursday its decision to drop fur, saying it was part of its efforts to become more environmentally friendly and sustainable. The move comes after years of backlash over its fur use, and amid a wider sustainability trend in the industry.

Canada Goose began moving toward no fur use last year when it said it would introduce reclaimed fur into its supply chain.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) praised Canada Goose for finally vowing last week to stop using fur, after years of campaigning, including by international affiliates and activists around the world. Canada Goose now joins other top fashion brands including Versace, Prada and Coach that also made the move.

"In light of Canada Goose's decision, PETA is placing a moratorium on our campaign against the company while we work behind the scenes on ending its use of down feathers," said PETA.

'We knew it was coming'

Mark Downey of the Fur Harvesters Auction House in North Bay, Ont., said Canada Goose's move wasn't a surprise.

"We knew it was coming."

He said Canada Goose had told suppliers last year that it would stop using fresh inventory, and instead make coats from recycled coyote trim.

"Anybody in the business understood that that's really not feasible," Downey said.

"It was kind of like a soft exit a year ago, and this announcement — we weren't surprised at all."

Downey said he's sad to see a large Canadian company like Canada Goose exit the fur industry. Still, he said, the auction house had a successful year selling pelts globally from its online store, amid the pandemic.

"We sell a lot into the Italian marketplace for fancy designers that are still using [coyote fur]," he said, adding there's also a strong market in China.

Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press
Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press

The Ontario Fur Managers Federation says it works with trappers, natural resource partners and others to "promote our heritage and our future through sustainable, professional and humane fur management practices."

Horwath expressed disappointment in Canada Goose's decision.

"The consumer should have the right to decide if they want to wear a Canada Goose jacket or any other jacket, and if they want to have fur trim on it."

He suggested that consumers who want fur trim on their outerwear could ask a local furrier to have it added to the coat.

Fur, he said, "keeps them warm in the wintertime and it won't freeze up."

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