Sable fur has been a highly valued item in the fur trade since the Early Middle Ages. Sable is unique. It is soft, thick, silky, shiny and lightweight, and it retains its smoothness in whatever direction it is stroked.
Sable only inhabits the Asian part of Russia. Farming of it began in the early 1930s. Around 800,000 sable skins are produced today, of which 70,000 are farmed.
Sable skins are sold at the ‘International Fur Auction Sojuzpushnina’ and most of them (more than 90%) are later exported around the world.
Because of its high value, sable fur is often integrated into various quality garments, and, therefore is in demand among a range of high fashion brands worldwide.
Moscow State Veterinary Academy has recently developed science-based regulations for keeping and breeding fur-farmed animals in Russia that meet European standards. These regulations cover all types of fur animals bred in Russia, as well as sable. They will later be used as a part of a farming certification scheme in Russia and Belarus.
The regulations will be developed in accordance with the ‘Terms of Reference’ for the implementation of scientific research projects and the development of scientifically grounded rules for keeping and breeding farm-raised animals in Russia.
- A farm-raised animals welfare assessment card
- A ‘block diagram’ of the criteria and indicators for assessing the welfare of animals on fur farms
These assessments are awarded points. If a positive result (ie. exceeding required criterion) is achieved the farm acquires a conformity certificate. The certificate then gives the right to supply the fur to the auction house.
The population of the main species of fur animals in Russia is regularly monitored. A study is currently under way to monitor the number of wild sable in Russia in order to allow the more sustainable use of sable without impacting on the overall population.
Russia follows the Agreement on International Humane Trapping Standards (AIHTS). In 2017, the Russian Center for Certification of Traps was established on the basis of the state institution Centrohotcontrol. In July 2017, a memorandum was signed between Centrohotcontrol and the Canadian Fur Institute on cooperation in the certification of humane traps. Work is now underway to certify new models of humane traps.
Hunting and trapping territories are granted for long-term rent and it is in the interest of the owner of the land to preserve and potentially increase the number of animals. Typically, the landowner carries out measures around improvement, feeding, monitoring and compliance within the rules of hunting in their territory. They count the population of each species and report it to the Hunting Administration.
For the production of a sable, each hunter is required to issue a license and to obtain only the allowed number of sables in accordance with the limit in this region.
Rules for trapping and for the hunting season are strictly enforced.
Upon completion of the skin harvesting, a veterinary certificate is issued by the state body. Before issuing a certificate, the state body checks the availability of trapping permits and checks the skins for disease. Sable skins are supplied with tags from the state veterinary administration.
Compliance with the rules and timing of hunting, as well as bag limits in the regions, are monitored by state hunting inspectors and if there are any violations, hunters are liable to fines and even criminal prosecution.
The Russian fur auction house Sojuzpushnina keeps track of all goods coming to auction and ensures that they have all the necessary documents confirming the legality and the humanity of trapping. Each sable skin is supplied with an individual code for registration in the automated goods tracking system. This system makes it possible to determine the supplier of products, and veterinarian tags help to identify a trapping region. Since December 2016, the auction issues a special certificate of conformity for sold sable lots.
The trade of farm-raised and wild sable in Russia is transparent. With the help of an auction tracking system of the goods it is possible to trace the origin of each sable skin and ensure all the necessary documentation is available.