There are various ways to sourcing animal parts, either as a finished product or materials to creating something original. Here at Gaia's Roots, we prefer to find animals that have already passed in natural ways. Because many of our products are used in a spiritual way, we ethically feel that it is best when Nature provides the animal. This technically makes us scavengers. Below are some of the ways that we source these gifts of nature.
1. Roadkill - Many states have laws revolving around the picking up of road kill so be sure to research your local laws. That being said, roadkill is the easiest way to access animals. If you live in a rural area, you might see these animals on a regular basis just driving to and from work. If you live in a big city, this is probably harder to find. Roadkill is an unfortunate side affect of humans driving through animal habitats. It might be possible that a predator will enjoy the easy meal, but most of the time the animal decomposes. If the road is near a city, there might be city workers who clean up the animals and relocate them to either the garbage or a 'secret' dumping site where they decompose naturally. Roadkill is the easiest way to access an entire animal. However, keep in mind that this is a messy method. You're going to need a strong stomach because past animals usually don't smell all that great. You'll need to consider what type of vehicle you drive. If it's a truck, then it's simple to throw the animal in the back of the truck and off you go. If you drive a car, consider that this animal will be in the back of your vehicle. I highly suggest garbage bags and gloves. This is also the method where you'll probably get the most stares from passing cars. Not everyone finds it appealing to work with animals in their natural death state, but everyone wants to look to see what's going on.
2. City Workers - Like I mentioned above, city workers are usually the ones who handle animals on the side of the road. If the animals are small, like a bunny, squirrel, birds, cat, etc., they are dumped in dumpsters. If the animals are larger, like a deer, coyote, dog, etc., sometimes the city has a 'secret' dumping ground where they drop the animals to decompose naturally. Making friends with the street workers is the fastest way to access road animals.
3. Buying - Not everyone feels comfortable cleaning a decomposing animal. It's messy. It's stinky. Depending on the method of cleaning, natural decomposing, bugs, boiling, etc., the process might take to long for what you need. Whatever your reason, buying already processed animals might be the route for you. There are many places to buy animal bones and furs. This method is the trickiest when sourcing animals ethically, because you will never 100% know for sure how that person is accessing the bones and fur. Don't always believe what someone says on their website. Finding someone through a reference or even a family friend might be the best way to guarantee your source. Try talking to hunters and asking them their methods of hunting. Get a vibe for what type of person they are. Trust your gut. There are some hunters and companies that work with population control methods. Population control is when an animal species overpopulates and it creates problems for other species. You see this often near cities where human influence has created an imbalance in Nature. For example, Florida has a thriving python population because owners of pythons decide they get too big. Instead of rehoming the snake, they flush them down the toilet and now there are pythons breeding in the wild. These snakes are destroying the natural local animals. So there are hunting permits that allow people to capture/kill the pythons in order to protect the local wildlife.
4. Native Reservations - It is not legal for someone who is not Native to hunt or fish on Native land. However, Natives are allowed to hunt and fish on their land. Natives tend to ethically source their animals so they are a great resource when needing bones and fur. Look for reservations or shops owned by Native individuals.
Don't be afraid to ask questions. If someone gets offended easily by your questions, then that tells you your answer. They're probably not sourcing animals in a peaceful manner. Anyone ethically sourcing animals in a respectful way, will not be offended by your questions. In fact, they will probably be happy that you're asking because they know that you too are trying to be respectful of Nature.
Know your local laws regarding endangered animals. Even if you find an endangered animal already passed, it's difficult to prove that you didn't kill it. Also, if you're using these animal parts to create an item for sale, like jewelry, know your local laws, out of state laws and international laws regarding endangered animals.
I caution anyone hunting without proper gun and hunting licensing. Hunting illegally alters the balance between natural ecosystems. We as humans, are the top predator on this Earth. If everyone hunted whenever they wanted to, animal life would cease to exist at some point. We, as the dominate species, need to take responsibility for our influence on this planet.