Due to the current state of the fur market, we’re down to just one or two major fur auctions to give us a read on what’s going on in the fur market for the season. Fur prices remain very low, but some items sold better than others. Let’s talk details by species.
Beaver prices are about the same as they were in 2021. The April and July auctions in 2021 showed some better averages, but very low percentages of the overall offering was sold. This auction sold 83% of the 53,000 beaver pelts offered for an average of $11.80. That’s an extremely poor price for a beaver pelt, particularly when considering the work involved in catching and processing it. If you’re an optimist, though, the good news is that a high percentage of the offering sold, eliminating a large back log to work through, which would have worked to delay a future upturn in the market.
The one upside to the low beaver prices has been the fact that castor prices were selling at all time highs. This trend threatened to break down, with individual buyers at state auctions and private sales paying quite a bit less for castor earlier in the season. The price drop seemed to be around 20-30 percent from last year’s levels. However, the FHA sale produced REALLY STRONG castor prices, with averages of $90-120 per pound. This is very encouraging considering the perceived weakness in the market.
Mink sold for an average of $8.55, which seems relatively good, but only 37% of the offering sold.
Marten prices were one of the bright spots in this auction. Too bad many trappers in the United States don’t have marten to catch in their area. Russia supplies a large number of marten (or ‘sable’) to the international markets, and due to the Russia-Ukraine conflict and resulting sanctions, it is unlikely that any more sables will be available from Russia this year, and perhaps further into the future. That has led to increased demand for marten pelts at the FHA auction. We aren’t back to prices from a few years ago, but the slight increases are encouraging.
87% of the 27,000 marten offered at this auction sold for an average of $35.92. That would likely equate to better Alaskan/Canadian marten averaging $50-60 and Lower 48/southern Canadian marten averaging $25-30.
About half of the 4,000 otter offered sold for just under $20 average. While some regional auctions resulted in better otter averages, these were more due to limited demand from small niche markets. The overall otter market hasn’t improved.
Virtually all of the fisher in the sale sold, and averaged about $28.
Only 38% of the lynx offering sold, and they averaged $67, similar to other recent auctions, but pretty disappointing compared to long term averages.
Bobcat results were quite interesting. There appears to be some increased demand for bobcat pelts. The top quality Western cats were mostly unsold, but the 20% that did sell averaged pretty good at $321. That’s a far cry from the 500-700 dollar averages of past years, but still not bad considering. The really interesting thing was that all other grades of bobcats sold at 90-100% and at decent price levels. Canadian bobcats were $158, Northerns were $94, and Southern and Central ‘cats were $60-70.
The 117,470 muskrats offered at the auction were mostly unsold. This typically means that the buyers weren’t interested in bidding at the minimum price levels FHA valued the pelts at. Muskrats have been going for $3-4 in the country in recent months, but myself and others have warned that the market could dry up later in the season. It’s possible that’s what we’re seeing.
Red fox haven’t commanded good prices in quite a few years. The collection of Northern red fox at FHA sold well and averaged $15. Eastern, Western and Central red foxes sold at lower percentages and their averages ($5-16) may not be a good indicator of the average price of fox. The market remains weak, but a few buyers will pay for decent goods.
Coyote were probably the most interesting and anticipated item in the entire auction. With Canada Goose Company’s abandonment of wild fur and the resulting reduction in demand for coyote used as hood liners in winter parkas, I anticipated the coyote market was going to tank, it was just a matter of when. The past few years had Western heavy coyotes – the best ones in the market – averaging $70-100 apiece. Recent state and regional auctions have seen these averages tank to less than half that price. In the FHA auction, coyotes sold at very low rates, indicating a severe slowing of demand.
Just 28% of the Western heavy coyotes sold. They averaged $50. Without going through the entire auction catalog, it’s difficult to determine what the price would have been if all had sold, but the $30-40 range is probably in my opinion.
17% of Eastern coyotes sold for $23.60 and 15% of Central coyotes sold for $17.07.
Considering how terrible the market for raccoon pelts has been, they sold pretty well at this auction. Canadian section sold at 82% for $16.26 and Eastern heavies sold at 91% for $7.45. The rest of the offering sold at much lower levels. Western heavy raccoons sold at a good average of $15, but only 29% sold. 18% of North Centrals sold for $8.40 and 5% of Eastern US raccoons sold for $3.89.
After so many years of low fur prices, I’ve become numb to some of the disappointment. Like most auctions, there were a few bright spots in this one, particularly the fact that some items moved at pretty good clearances and for most items, the averages didn’t fall considerably from last year’s numbers. Those who are still trapping are doing it for reasons other than financial, and the market prices they receive for fur is a bonus. I hope the market recovers, and perhaps the continued low prices will encourage more folks to get creative and find alternative markets for their fur.