July isn’t a typical time of year for a wild fur auction, but given the challenging global fur market and economic and travel disruptions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, selling fur has been a challenge this year. After pretty low overall clearances in their April online auction and lots of fur on hand to sell, Fur Harvesters held another online sale in July. The goal was for this to be an in-person auction (this would have been the first since the pandemic), but with the virus raging on, the Canadian border remained closed, and FHA was forced to continue with the online-only option.
It’s tough to gauge a fur market based on an online auction, where most buyers can’t physically inspect the fur they’re bidding on. All in all, things probably went about as well as you might expect. But the fact remains that the fur market is still in a really depressed state, and despite some better prices for a few items, we have a long way to go if we’re ever to return to a ‘normal’ market environment for wild fur.
Here are some results:
Beaver sold very poorly – only 20-25% sold for averages of $11.86 for 1st Section and $4.00 for 3rd Section.
While prices were dismal for the beaver that sold, castor continues to shine. Castor ranged from $90 to $120 per pound, depending on grade, continuing to press toward new highs.
Coyote continued to sell well, despite the recent news from Canada Goose about discontinuing their use of fur. All of the Western heavy coyotes on offer sold, and averaged about $98. The Western semi-heavy coyotes sold for $52.57, Eastern coyotes went for $26.81, and Centrals sold for $10-11.
There was very limited interest in raccoon – in other words, almost none sold at auction.
Muskrats did really well, and continue to be one of the bright spots in this market. Nearly all ‘rats on offer sold, and averaged a little over $5.
Sellers realized a nice average of $350 for Western bobcats, but only a quarter of those sold, and the remainder of the unsold Western ‘cats probably would have brought much lower prices. Canadian and Eastern bobcats showed strength and increased demand, selling out an bringing averages around $60. Central cats brought about $35.
Red fox brought $5-15 with limited demand. Similarly, a small percentage of grey fox sold for around $9-13.
Fisher clearance was high, but averages were low, at $23.65.
The better Alaskan and Canadian marten averaged about $43, while the lower grades and other areas mostly brought $20-30.
60% of otters sold for an average of $23.35.
Mink were $3.50-6.50.
All in all, Fur Harvesters was put in a tough position this year, trying to move wild fur in an international market rocked by a pandemic, government shutdowns and complete economic upheaval. Through it all they showed patience and determination, and remain prepared to sell wild fur to the world when things get back to normal. Until then, don’t expect the fur check to pay the gas bill, let alone buy supplies or even think about that word ‘profit’. To get there, a creative set of marketing skills along with a variety of tanned products sold to a specific niche market may help bridge the gap for a lot of trappers out there.