We are not members of the IUCN Otter Specialists Group (OSG) and the reason for this is to do with the killing of otters for fur. I know there is a big problem with this in Asia and it is largely led by poverty. However there is also a big problem in North America but it is legal – they trap about 50,000 otters for fur each year and in 21 states in USA otters were reintroduced after becoming extinct – now in 14 of these states it is legal to kill them again.
These figures do not take into account those animals which are caught by “accident” when trapping for other species – this must be quite high as in November 2015 one person caught 2 within 10 days in Indiana when trapping for beaver. But of course most animals caught “accidentally” are not reported.
This trapping is supposed to be sustainable but there are no accurate population figures so if you don’t know how many you have, how can you say it is sustainable to “harvest” so many. This is the reason why we have withdrawn from the OSG. Hunting is a big problem in Asia and they are very much against this of course. But in Asia the hunting is largely by poor fishermen who are trying to supplement their living and it also removes an animal which they regard as competition. It is still wrong of course, but in North America it is very different and OSG are not willing to tackle this. We have brought up the subject with IUCN and they again say it is sustainable – but IUCN have members such as The Fur Institute of Canada and The International Fur Federation! The Dallas Safari Club is also a member – they actually auctioned a rhino to be hunted and killed and they justified it by saying that the money would go to conservation!!
IUCN and OSG are not willing to take a stance against this American killing of otters so we cannot be part of an organisation which we see as hypocritical. I hope you understand this.