Big Clothing Companies May Be Violating Law With Sale of Wolf Furs

Two large nationwide clothing manufacturers are selling winter parkas with fur trim described on the coats' labels as wolf fur at Cambridge and Boston area stores.

The sale of North American wolf fur is illegal in Massachusetts under the state Endangered Species Act which became effective September 1.

Peter's Sportswear of Philadelphia prints the words "Alaskan or Canadian wolf" of the labels attached to its parkas. Schott's Brothers of New York uses the words "genuine wolf" on its labels.

The parkas are being sold are Central Square War Surplus store and Sawyer's Campus Shop.

Gerald Hurwitz, owner of Sawyer's, said yesterday that the coats are sold all over Boston.


Samuel V. Ameen, law enforcement officer for the Massachusetts Department of Natural Resources, said yesterday that he will investigate the alleged violations.

A spokesman for Schott's said yesterday that his company discontinued manufacturing the coats three years ago. He said that the company had used wolf fur bought from a federal government stockpile left over from World War I.

But Hurwitz said that the coats had certainly been made in the last three years. "The coats are being manufactured currently and seasonally," he said.

Hurwitz insisted, however, that he believes the fur on the Schott's coats is imported, although he did not know from what country. Under the Endangered Species Act, the sale of Canadian wolf fur is illegal in Massachusetts; the sale of wolf fur imported from elsewhere is not.

Another large clothing manufacturer, William Barry Company of Lawrence, is selling parkas with fur trim that is referred to as "natural wolf" on the label. The company told law enforcement officers earlier this month that the fur is actually coyote.

Christopher W. Altenbernd, a second year law student and member of the Environmental Law Society, said yesterday that the Peter's and William Barry companies have to be violating one of two laws.

"If the fur is what it says on the labels," Altenbernd said, "they are violating the Endangered Species Act. If it is something else like coyote, they are violating the Fur Products Labelling Act of 1951."

The 1951 act is a federal law which states that all fur sold in the U.S. must be "designated by its true English name.