Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

City garment maker target of fur protest

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A recent Toronto-based ad campaign has set Manitoba garment company Canada Goose in its sights for using furs for its coats.

The anti-fur campaign -- which had advertisements on subways in the Big Smoke -- points members of the public to a website that says "animals killed for their fur in Canada are either trapped or farmed, both of which cause intense suffering."

People who visit the campaign's home page are urged to contact Dani Reiss, CEO of Canada Goose, to protest the "blatant cruelty" of using coyote fur on the company's jackets.

"Each year, tens of thousands of coyotes are trapped and killed for use as fur trim on your coats and hats. Stolen from their families and homes, these sensitive, intelligent animals often spend hours or even days stuck in cruel traps where common injuries include broken bones and teeth, gashed eyes and severe internal bleeding," said the website, in a letter for supporters to send to Reiss.

The website -- called furtrimisatrap.com -- was created by the Association for the Protection of Fur-Bearing Animals and is supported by Lush Fresh Handmade Cosmetics.

"We respect the right to their opinion, but we don't share it. We're proud of the product we make and to support the people of the north for whom this is their livelihood," said Kevin Spreekmeester, Canada Goose's vice-president of global marketing.

"For Canada Goose, functionality is paramount.

"Our jackets are built to be used in the coldest places on Earth, where skin around the face can freeze in an instant, and so we use fur only for functional purposes. We use coyote fur because coyotes are not an endangered species and it is one of the few types of fur that protects against frostbite."

The company has a production facility in Winnipeg and employs about 160 people in the city, and about another 1,000 people across Canada.

The company makes coats both with and without fur, but only uses fur from Canada.

Much of the fur is sourced from Western Canada, including Manitoba.

Janice Pennington, a director of the Humane Education Network in Winnipeg, said she thinks the anti-fur campaign's message is "very good."

"I know that it's controversial because of people feeling... trapping is a way of life in northern Manitoba, and it does bring some income," said Pennington.

Cheryl Sobie, a University of Manitoba graduate student and another member of the network, said she also wouldn't wear fur trim. She said there are synthetic materials that can keep people warm.

"I think it's disgusting and unnecessary," she said. "Basically, we're killing animals to wear their fur. I mean, that's their coat."

Ron Spence, Manitoba Trappers Association president, disagrees. He lives in Nelson House, about 800 kilometres north of Winnipeg.

"They need to really learn about Mother Nature, the animals, and if there's no trapping or hunting on any other species, Mother Nature is very cruel... in maintaining the balance of the ecosystem," said Spence.

He also said: "We trap. That's our lifestyle. We eat the meat."

According to Manitoba Conservation and Water Stewardship, there were almost 8,000 trapping licences issued in 2011-12.

gabrielle.giroday@freepress.mb.ca

Fur-bearers taken by Manitoba trappers in 2011-12

16,125

Muskrat

13,737

Marten

6,489

Beaver

5,343

Coyote

2,365

Squirrel

2,226

Weasel

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 3, 2013 A4

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