My Etsy Shop: TheFoxBrush
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A Brief Period of Fur Harvesting in Britain or How The Fur Trade Almost Endangered Britain’s Foxes
In the years 1977 to 1982, fox furs suddenly gained huge popularity. The demand was so high that the fur market in Europe started looking to wild foxes for the first time. Previously the pelts of wild foxes in Europe had been all but worthless, but in just a short period the prices skyrocketed and with it the hunting and trapping of foxes became big business.
Large numbers of skins were obtained from the continent, but with rabies sweeping west through Europe at the time, the fur industry turned to Britain and Ireland which were rabies free and thus a perfect source for foxes. Another driving force was the high level of unemployment in the UK. The average price for a British fox skin was around £15 per pelt (equivalent to £94 or $153 in today’s money) and so there was a lot of money to be made in killing foxes.
Snaring was the primary method used to take foxes for fur, but lurchers were also employed, often illegally. Lurchers are extremely efficient at taking foxes when worked hard, and so huge numbers of foxes were killed in this way;
"Until a few years ago, the fox was not considered as being a creature worthy of poaching with sighthounds or lurchers, and the capture of one was usually incidental to a day’s hunt - an added bonus, so to speak. Now things are different. In 1977, the fickle fur market became fox-orientated, and the pelts of the red fox, which previously sold for a matter of a pound or two, now began to fetch very high prices indeed…Thus many lurcherman deliberately set out to catch fox in preference to hare, and fox poaching has become more than merely common.
So bad did the illegal taking of foxes become that, in 1977, many hunts took next to no fox, and articles decrying the killing of foxes with lurchers appeared in the Shooting Times and other sporting periodicals…I have a sneaking suspicion that only a few years of hunting foxes on the scale of 1978 would be needed to reduce their numbers to a level where the fox became an endangered species.”
- D. Brian Plummer, 1979
During this period, Britain and Ireland were collectively exporting over 100,000 pelts annually, almost half that trapped across the whole of Canada. The winter fox population in the UK was estimated at around 240,000, the time when most fur harvesting took place. With so many being killed for their skins, alongside other regular causes of mortality. such as road deaths, disease, shooting and hunting with hounds, far more foxes were being killed than ever before. Although overall the population in the UK remained unaffected, on a localized level fox numbers began to decline in many districts and had the demand for furs continued then the population could have seriously suffered as a whole. The most notable decline was in Ireland where at it’s height, 40,700 skins were exported in one season and foxes were hit so hard they became all but absent from many areas.
The biggest issue was that Britain didn’t (and still doesn’t) have any regulations on the harvesting of foxes for fur. In countries such as Canada and the United States where fur trapping is commonplace, trapping has a regulated season and trappers require special licences and are given quotas as to how many of each species can be legally harvested. These measures help to ensure that populations are never depleted and can remain healthy and stable. However, in Britain there is no season for foxes or limits on how many can be killed. At the time anyone could go out and set snares or dogs on foxes where they had permission from the landowner to do so, and many also got away with doing so illegally.
Thankfully for our foxes the bottom dropped out of the market in 1982, the fur market moved elsewhere and the fox population quickly recovered it’s numbers. Ever since Britain’s foxes have remained worthless on the fur market. In a way it’s a shame, as large numbers of foxes are still killed as pests and simply left to rot, but without proper regulation, harvesting foxes for fur will never be sustainable long-term in Britain.
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I can’t even look at pictures of pugs without feeling physically sick. e_e
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It was boiling hot yesterday and today it’s freezing cold. @__@
I recently bought a small parcel of bones from Ireland that had been collected in woodland and along beaches. This dog has been nicknamed cranium!dog because of the obvious damage - his skull has been shattered at the back. He’ll get a proper name soon - I know he’s going to be special to me.
Any ideas what breed he might be? I originally asked prettydeadstuff but at the time, my photos were unclear. Hopefully someone will be able to help! Size wise, he’s not far off from my German Shepherd Dog and feels fairly heavy.
I’ll need to degrease him and glue his teeth in place. This might take a while because some areas are so dark, but I managed to clean up [the coyote] from Glacier Wear (you can see him in the background of the second photo!) so I think it’s within my capabilities to clean this fellow up. Tooth wise, he’s only missing four I believe - the furthest molar on one mandible and three incisors.
The elongated shape makes me think lurcher, but maybe only 1/4 or 1/3 on the sighthound side. Definitely got a lot of something else in there as well. For the rest, something about it also seems collie/shepherd-ish and maybe with some bull as well? Those teeth definitely suggest something big and powerful.
Ireland has a BIG lurcher problem, with large numbers being abandoned and killed, so wouldn’t be surprised if that’s what it is.
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Normal households get infestations of things like cockroaches, but nooo, we have to get an infestation of slugs and centipedes. >8|
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Random fact time!
Did you know, in the late 1970’s the demand for wild fox fur from Britain was so high that the number of pelts exported from Britain was nearly half of that trapped across the whole of Canada! The situation was so bad that foxes were becoming almost endangered in areas, particularly in Ireland. Thankfully the demand only lasted for a few years.
Why is my dad taking the TV apart…
Apparently he was trying to remove a DVD.
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I really need to get a video of Hamish running around as he just loves to randomly backflip in excitement and it’s hilarious. xD
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What I love about that photo is that there’s so few images of juvenile thlacines, and that one shows a really nice comparison between an adult and a youngster!
A thylacine mother and young photographed at the National Zoological Park in New South Wales, 1873.
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