This category includes establishments primarily engaged in commercial hunting and trapping, or in the operation of game preserves.
Hunting and Trapping
Despite a weak U.S. economy, fur sales in 2002 jumped 13.2 percent to $1.7 billion due to increased sales in fur and fur-trimmed products made of sheared mink and beaver fur. Roughly 45 percent of fur retailers saw an upswing in store traffic in 2002.
Hunting and trapping are among the oldest industries in the United States. Trading in beaver pelts played a role in the western expansion of the United States. As areas became over exploited, the commercial trade moved further and further west. During the nineteenth century, there were few ordinances governing the taking of fur-bearing animals. As a result some species were threatened. One of the first animal management regulations regarded fur seals. Under the terms of the Alaska Convention of 1911, Japan, Russia, Canada, and the United States agreed to limit catches according to governmental rules. The resulting regulations enabled seal populations to recover and sustain themselves.
The twentieth century brought other regulations to the industry. Seasons for taking animals were open or closed based on the management needs of specific populations. Many jurisdictions instituted laws requiring trappers to check their traps at frequent intervals, usually every 24 hours. The Endangered Species Confiscation Act of 1969 listed animals "threatened with world-wide extinction" and prohibited trading in them.
During the 1960s and 1970s, the United States saw growing antagonism between members of the animal rights movement and trappers and hunters. Animal rights activists aimed their efforts at reducing demand for fur products, which resulted in price declines. Trappers and hunters responded by developing programs in conjunction with governmental regulators to manage populations of wild animal stocks at sustainable levels and to seek more humane trapping techniques.
There are 23 fur-bearing species in the United States spread among all the states, except Hawaii. Of those 23, eight make up about 92 percent of the annual fur harvest. The species are, in descending order: muskrat, raccoon, opossum, nutria, beaver, coyote, mink, and gray and red fox (gray fox and red fox are often counted together).
Today, the U.S. fur industry is divided into two segments: "wild caught" and "ranch...