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Eco-Friendly Fur

Dec 19, 2007

Although I’ve never personally seen a bobcat where I live, I know they’re out there. In fact, they’re doing pretty well in Missouri as a whole, according to Jeff Beringer, our furbearer biologist.

bobcatBobcats are one of a number of animals that can be trapped during Missouri’s general trapping season that runs from Nov. 15 to Jan 31. (Some of the others include beaver, muskrat, raccoon, otter, coyote, mink, red fox, gray fox, skunk…) I’m mentioning this today for a few reasons: 1) I was looking for other photos and saw this great one of a bobcat and thought it was just an appealing animal, 2) we’re in the middle of the trapping season so it’s a timely topic and 3) how people think about furs may be changing.

What are some of the values of trapping? It’s a long-time tradition and way of being connected with the life outdoors. It’s critically important to keep a few species from seriously damaging private property. (In the case of beavers, they can wreak havoc by killing healthy trees near a pond or stream. Muskrats and beavers can destroy pond dams. Otters can kill many of the fish in a pond.) Depending on the market forces, it can be a way to earn some extra dollars—although a challenging one. I’m sure there are more, but one additional thing that Jeff mentioned to me is perhaps the most timely; that is, that wild furs, unlike much other clothing, do not require use of lots of other natural resources to produce them. When they’re taken in a carefully regulated way (which is the only legal trapping allowed), we can have furs, yet maintain a healthy natural world. Furs can be eco-friendly.

I have a very old raccoon coat that was from the Roaring Twenties. It was worn first by my Aunt Fran, then given to my older sister, then used by me, then by my younger sister. I remember walking to high school in it during a snowstorm and blowing wind but feeling like I was in my own heated space. The high collar kept the icy wind off my neck, and the coat itself went down well below my knees. I valued it then and do now, even though it’s drying up and falling apart. But 80 years is a long time to expect a coat to last. I never thought about it being eco-friendly, but it sure was warm and it sure did last a long, long time.

I’m not good enough to think of everything I do against how heavy a carbon footprint I leave. I’m just not that pure or conscientious. But I did add Jeff’s point to my mental notebook next time I’m looking for a new coat.

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