This is an excerpt from Trapper & Predator Caller‘s September 2014 Fur Market Report.
By Serge Lariviére
What should we expect to see in the coming year for fur prices?
Well, although it is too early to tell yet and because August is probably the quietest month in this trade, there are no new indicators out there other than what we already know. But everyone I spoke to in the trade — retailers, marketing experts, auctions house representatives — expects it is going to be another tough selling season. Some even say that further price declines in wild fur are to be expected.
Some trappers have already expressed that if prices go down some more, trappers that remain might be able to make up money by catching more fur since competition will be reduced. Retailers of trapping supplies at the National Trappers Association Convention in Escanaba, Mich., reported reduced sales compared to the 2013 convention in Lima, Ohio, and prices undoubtedly have slowed down trapper enthusiasm.
In terms of species forecast, muskrats and top-quality coyotes will continue to fare well, as will the better cats — bobcats and Canada lynx. Other trim items such as fishers, red foxes and absolutely perfect raccoons will still do well, but any lower-grade fur aimed for the garment markets will continue to struggle.
Beaver still battles the ever-present dressing issues, and marketing items now try to promote full-length beaver in an effort to increase sales and avoid the expensive shearing/plucking process. Raccoons are unlikely to experience any major jump in sales, but the work of handling raccoon is still less than for beaver, so beavers are likely to remain at the bottom of the profitability index.
Beavers are the backbone of many Canadian traplines and many trapping operations in the United States. At current levels of $15 to $18 a skin on average, beaver trapping is not a profitable activity unless you can find alternate markets for meat, tail leather, castor glands and oil sacs. Use your imagination, and it’s probably a good year to plan on putting the emphasis on having fun.
Serge Lariviére, a Trapper & Predator Caller field editor, is a wildlife biologist in Quebec, Canada. You can e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.