Las pieles silvestres representan aproximadamente entre el 15 y el 20 % del comercio peletero en todo el mundo.

Hay numerosas especies de animales salvajes cuyas pieles que se utilizan para ser comercializadas, pero las más comunes son (en orden alfabético):

Armiño (Mustela erminea), castor americano (Castor canadiense), comadreja (Mustela nivalis), coyote (Canis latrans), hamster ruso y chino (Sciurus vulgaris), kolinski (Mustela sibirica), mapache (Procyon lotor), marta (Martes americana), marta cibelina (Martes zibellina), nutria (Myocastor coypus) (principalmente de América del Sur y del Norte),
rata almizclera (Ondatra zibethica), visón (Mustela vison), zarigüeya de Nueva Zelanda (Trichosurus vulpecula), zorro gris (Urocyon cinereoargenteus y Pseudalopex griseus) y zorro rojo (Vulpes vulpes).


La mayoría de las especies silvestres que se utilizan en el comercio de las pieles no se eligen específicamente por sus pieles, sino que están incluidas en programas de gestión de fauna silvestre regulados por los gobiernos con el asesoramiento y la supervisión de biólogos de fauna silvestre.

Los animales de pieles finas se pueden reproducir indefinidamente siempre que el hábitat lo permita, y cada año es posible capturar el excedente sin amenazar la supervivencia de las especies.

Si en alguna especie se produce una superpoblación, se crea un desequilibrio ecológico con efectos generalizados. En general, cada año, las poblaciones de fauna silvestre se reproducen en un número mayor del que puede soportar el hábitat. Si no se establecen programas de gestión cautelosos, pueden ocurrir los siguientes problemas:

Impact on animals: an increase in numbers puts a strain on the available food resource and can lead to stress and starvation.

Flooding: muskrats undermine dikes, as is the case in Belgium and Holland where trappers are paid by government to control numbers.

Land management: in the USA, studies by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation have estimated that beaver dams cause in excess of $6 million in damages annually by flooding land, blocking drainage channels and by washing away roads, railways and bridges when dams fail. The USA as a whole costs beaver damage at $1.5 billion annually.

Disease and pest control: management prevents the build-up of diseases that can be transmitted to domestic animals and humans. Lyme disease, Giardia, round worms, mange, distemper and rabies are some examples of diseases carried by fur-bearers.

Provided they are carefully managed, fur-bearers can also bring benefits to other wildlife populations. For example, North American beaver dams can create an ideal habitat for many other species, rare and common. Regulation of the wolf population in Russia and Canada reduces damage caused to reindeer herders and helps to restore population of rare or endangered species. The IFF is a voting member of the INTERNATIONAL UNION FOR THE CONSERVATION OF NATURE (IUCN), which supports the fur industry’s “sustainable use of abundant species”.


Wild fur-bearing animals are a natural resource that has long provided food and clothing for man. Today, they are particularly important to those living in isolated and rural areas, enabling these communities to maintain a traditional lifestyle while earning cash income.

These people are everyday conservationists, acting as the eyes and ears of the wildlife habitat. They are often the first to identify and communicate any risk they see to the environment around them, such as disease, pollution or poorly planned development projects.

Some wild fur animals such as beaver and muskrat – also provide food for aboriginal and remote communities. Animals not used for food are returned to nature to feed other wildlife, so that nothing is wasted.


“The key to abundant wildlife in coastal Louisiana is habitat. If we protect and enhance these marshlands through management, including fur animal harvest, we can ensure these renewable resources for untold generations”.

-Greg Linscombe, biologist at the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries

“Habitat conservation is the key to maintaining the viability of all wildlife populations and the ecosystems on which they depend. Unlike habitat destruction, regulated trapping is a sustainable use of wildlife resources, and does not, in any way, threaten the continued existence of any wildlife population”.
-Government Northeast Furbearer Resources Technical Committee

“Aboriginal people are a part of nature in a way that very few people have ever known. We have used the animals and fish, plants and water of the earth for generations. We are nurtured by this environment. Through our livelihood, we pass on our traditional skills and values to our children.

But there are human beings who have never seen this country, who wish to destroy our lives. These people have become so far removed from a natural environment that they desperately believe they should save our homeland from whatever threatens it. They do not see that they are the biggest threat.

Protecting and maintaining healthy populations of fur-bearing animals is more than a matter of social conscience for our people, it is a matter of our survival.”
-The Council for Yukon Indians.

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