Chinchilla Pelting In The U.S.... There Is No Longer ANY Excuse!
It may come as a surprise to many, but pelting hasn't been profitable in the U.S. for about a decade now. Today the remaining U.S. chinchilla ranches sell their animals live as pets (pet stores, direct sales) or breeding stock (to other ranchers or pet breeders). This is because rising production costs in the U.S. have made pelting uneconomical as opposed to the situation in other countries where their socioeconomic status makes production less costly and therefore lower pelt prices don't affect them in the same way.
For example, in a report by the Chinchilla Industry Council composed for the 2006 market year, they reveal that in 2005 Canchilla's (large international pelt broker based in Canada) pelt suppliers were largely "from South America and Eastern Europe and a very small percent coming from USA and Canada." The article projected that for the best pelts in 2006 they expected to pay $30 USD or less.1 Meanwhile, U.S. wholesale prices for live chinchillas starts at about $50 USD (since 2004) and goes up from there, some live animals can fetch retail prices of $500 and higher.2
Unfortunately, pelting does continue in the U.S., albeit on a smaller scale than in its heyday. It's still practiced by U.S. ranchers as a means of eliminating troublesome, substandard or expendable stock, those considered "unsuitable" for live sale. Chinchillas with medical or temperament problems, unproductive breeders and those with physical flaws, deformities or handicaps such as fur-biting, blindness or a missing ear are among those that become "at-risk" for pelting.3
There are efforts to save at-risk ranch chinchillas, matildesmission.org (Pet Homes For Ranchies) is one that actively works with ranchers so that their at-risk chinchillas can be placed into loving pet homes rather than be killed and pelted for a pittance. The long-term goal of chinchilla enthusiasts in the U.S. is to pass legislation that will protect chinchillas from pelting or to include them in the current law that protects other fur-bearing pets, the U.S. Cat and Dog Fur Ban of 2000, or PL106-476.4
In the meantime, by ransoming these chinchillas from pelting, everyone wins: the rancher who gets wholesale rather than pelt prices, the pet community that gets to save and care for those chins in greatest need, and the chinchilla… who gets another chance at life!