Fur ban dodged

NNSL (DEC 23/96) - A last-minute change of course by fur industry lobbyists produced a tentative agreement last week to stall a European fur ban slated to come into effect Jan. 1.

"It's very good news for us," said Ian Ross, supervisor of the GNWT's fur management program. "There's still a few more hoops to get through, but we're confident it will be approved."

The agreement was initialled by representatives of Canada, Russia and the European Union's College of Commissioners Dec. 18. The U.S. has until the end of January to opt in.

Until two weeks ago fur supporters had focused their lobbying efforts on the Council of Environmental Ministers.

When it became clear the council would reject the tentative agreement, the lobbyists turned their attention to the College of Commissioners, composed of representatives of each of the EU committees.

Ross said it may not be until March that the agreement goes before the Council of Member States for final approval.

College approval was enough to stave off the ban until the council deals with the issue.

The agreement applies to 19 species of animals. It proscribes kill thresholds (the amount of time an animal remains alive after being trapped) and deadlines for research on methods of humane trapping.

Muskrat, beaver, wolverine, wolf, lynx, marten and fisher are among the species included in the agreement. Fox is not on the list.

"We're well positioned to meet it," said Ross of the requirements. He noted the GNWT has had programs supporting research and improved trapping techniques in place for years.