By Ken MacQueen - Wednesday, December 12, 2012 - 0 Comments
In conversation with Ken MacQueen
Jim Sterba is a veteran foreign reporter at the Wall Street Journal and one-time war correspondent, but his latest book, Nature Wars, is about insurgency of a different sort: the resurgent population of North American wildlife and the uneasy relationship with its neighbours. Both humans and overabundant populations of deer, bear, goose, beaver, coyote and others have taken to suburban life with sometimes disastrous consequences. “We turned a wildlife comeback miracle into a mess” of fouled parks, deer-vehicle accidents and downed jetliners, he writes. He argues our Disneyfied view of animals has tipped the balance of nature.
Q: I live in British Columbia, where trees are sacred and we love our wildwood creatures. Each has their own special interest group. Yet you say we have too much wildlife.
A: Certain species are over-abundant, like white-tail deer in many parts of the country. Some are just nuisances, like Canada geese. Some are damaging, like beavers. The problem with bears is that people have such an anthropomorphized view of them because they haven’t been around bears a lot, except teddy bears, so when a bear shows up they think, “Oh, it’s a cute little person,” and they throw it a doughnut, or they let it rifle through the garbage can and take its photograph, and the bear begins to associate the smell of people with food, not fear. It’s not the bear’s fault, it’s our fault. Continue…
By Jason Kirby - Thursday, September 15, 2011 at 11:20 AM - 3 Comments
How Canada’s down industry is fighting feather imposters
In the animal world, the closest thing to gold may be the fluffy underfeathers of the eider duck. The down, which female eiders pluck from their breasts to line their nests, is typically only found in parts of Iceland, Greenland and islands in the St. Lawrence River, and its warmth, softness and rarity make it a coveted filling for duvets—so much so that it costs $1,000 per pound. It’s why, after showing off a clump of eiderdown, Michael de la Place, president of industry group Downmark, gingerly plucks tiny plumules from the air before they float away. And it shows what’s at stake as companies in Canada’s close-knit down industry fight an onslaught of fakes and knock-offs flooding retail stores.
Down, the layer of fine feathers next to a bird’s skin, is nature’s most efficient insulator. It’s also expensive, with duck and goose down duvets, pillows and coats running from several hundred dollars up to more than $5,000. Money like that has spurred Chinese manufacturers to crank out cheap copies filled with low-grade materials. And while fake down goods make up a tiny fraction of the multi-billion-dollar market for knock-offs, the experience of those in Canada’s down industry shows how hard it is to battle the onslaught of cheap fakes. “The fraud against consumers that’s going on is mind-blowing,” says De la Place.
Last year, Canada Goose, famous for its winter coats, went on the offensive against fakes. Its jackets sell for $500 and up, but the company said a plague of knock-offs—stuffed with “feather mulch”—selling for under $100 has seriously cut into its business.