May 2018 Fur Market Report

Record Prices for Coyotes!

Coyote-trim parkas drive market; new buyers go after raccoon and beaver

By Serge Lariviére

Western coyotes are by far the hottest fur item on the market right now and by a far margin. Just a few weeks ago, the fur sale held at North American Fur Auctions saw record-high prices for coyote skins, with the top lot of western coyotes selling at $610, and most skins in the heavy sections exceeding the $100-mark (average $105.96) whereas the semi-heavy sections (skins not as fully prime) averaging $57.21. I will make it simple and say this: if it is caught in season, it is worth $80-100, maybe more. And as always, when the top grades sell for very high money, medium grades sell decent as well, and this leaves room for even the less desired grades to sell well, and for this past sale, even Eastern coyotes sold well with overall average at $40.57 (top of $122). Eastern coyotes have longer hair, darker fur, bellies that are reddish or yellow, but most sadly, the fur is coarse and not as soft as the westerns. This is why western coyotes are preferred for parka trim, which is soft and pale. This trend, which started first in Canada is now worldwide and driving the prices for coyotes absolutely sky-high! The good news of course is that all coyotes sold at fantastic prices, and that trend will likely hold another year or two. Start planning now if you have access to coyotes, as this is where the money is!

Bobcats sold very well, and as always, the better western cats with well-defined black spots topped the market with a high of $2,400.00 and an overall average of $378.99.
Canada lynx sold at 63.23 on average, with a top of $220. Canada lynx lack the spots that make bobcat fur so attractive, and this reflects in the price. Similar animals but completely different prices.

Beaver sold at very low levels ($10-12) with a top price of $41. Basically all skins sold, but these prices are not enough to pay for expenses of trappers in the field. However, NAFA reports that the skins were sold almost all to new buyers, and this could eventually be positive. There are rumors of beaver fur being used in experiments to dress new garment styles, and hopefully this is why the skins went to new buyers. Many people in the trade argue that if you want the trade to be strong, you need a strong beaver market because when a trapper goes after beaver, he also harvests many of the other more luxurious animals that co-exist with beavers, especially in northern areas. For this reason, any new fashion craze that would use beaver would do good for our trade!

Another classic fur and staple for many trappers, especially in the USA, is the raccoon. This past sale, about two-thirds of the raccoons sold, and the very best of them averaged $21.59 with the top lot selling for $63, again sold to a new buyer this time from France. Regular skins averaged $8-12. Again, this shows that maybe, just maybe, some designers are starting to play with wild fur in hope of finding a new design that would really take off. Again this year, the best skins received some interest, but as long as this market will remain difficult, there is basically no interest in blue coon, early season, or damaged goods. The prices translate into little interest by trappers and it showed because the offering of 150,000 pelts (of which some were undoubtedly reoffered goods that were unsold in previous years) is estimated to be about 10 percent of the harvest that we would see if prices were good. Let me say this again—if the market was good, we could easily see an annual harvest exceed one million raccoon pelts. But at current prices, most trappers target other species or at least, reduce their effort when targeting raccoons.

The last staple item is muskrat, and the price averaged $3.22 with a top of $7.00. Nothing amazing, really a sign of the current low prices for female mink. Muskrat is often referred to as the poor man’s mink, and prices usually follow ranch mink levels. Wild mink sold at slightly increasing prices, but the average price of $11.38, and the top of $22 is still very low. River otter averaged $31.58 with a top price of $69.
Marten sold very well, and heavy skins, those from the north, fully prime, averaged $87.79 (top of $188) while the semi-heavy sections averaged $57.58 (top of $100). Fisher did okay, smaller and softer females selling for slightly more money than the larger males. Top price was $112, with an overall average of $46.
Both red and grey fox averaged $22-25 but demand was limited. Amazing how coyotes can sell so well yet foxes remain tough to sell. This really illustrates how complex our trade is. Coyote fur stands up, has just the right “firmness” to hold on its own, has the right color for trim, and thus sells like crazy. Fox fur is more “fluffy,” the color is red, which likely is not seen as versatile as the beige color of coyote fur, and thus simply does not work as well for trim.


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