The true state of the 2023 fur market has finally come to the surface, with the majority of state fur auctions and regional fur buying having taken place, and the Fur Harvesters March auction coming to a close. In short, the fur market is in a bifurcated state: it’s good and it’s bad – depending on the species you’re looking at. This year there’s been a dramatic difference between the higher and lower ends in the market. The bottom line is that if there’s a fashion-related demand for an item, or the item is available in very low quantities, the price is high. For everything else, there’s barely a market and prices are poor. Let’s get into the details.
Beaver is by far the hottest item in the fur market right now. Many years of rock bottom prices for beaver pelts have resulted in low trapper effort, low harvest and fewer pelts on the market. A recent spike in demand for felt in the hatter market has increased the number of pelts needed in this poorly supplied market, and beaver prices have shot up as a result.
The felt (hatter) market does not require a prime or long haired beaver pelt, and so most of the hatter beaver were the lower grades and damaged beavers. These were traditionally the lowest priced beaver pelts on the market. With the spike in demand, brought on partially by the increased popularity of Stetson-type cowboy hats, Fedora hats and others, every class of beaver pelt is in play as a hatter.
The overall average for beaver pelts in the FHA March 2023 auction was $30, with 100% clearance of the offering! Even more importantly, there was little disparity between the low end and high end – hatter type beaver averaged just as good as high quality northern beaver. This means that for the first time in perhaps a generation, a southern trapper could see a $30 average for beaver pelts.
Now is a great time to be a beaver trapper! It’s unclear how long this trend will last, but take advantage of it while you can!
Unfortunately, that sky high price we’ve been seeing for beaver castor the past few years has taken quite a fall. Instead of those $60-100/lb averages, you’ll be looking at $25-50 per pound for castor.
Unlike beaver, there’s no fashion demand for mink right now, and with all of the low priced ranch mink on the market, much of the wild mink offering can’t even catch a bid. Mink prices are averaging about $3.50.
The raccoon market has been weak for a while, and only the best quality and largest sizes have any demand. The best Western and Canadian raccoon are averaging $7-9, with Eastern collections bringing about $2 on average. The lack of demand in China and Russia have impacted this market.
There’s good demand for otter pelts, and prices have increased from recent levels. Otter pelts are bringing about $30 on average, with size and color being a major factor.
There is demand for muskrat pelts, but not at prices many had hoped for. Fur Harvesters offered about a quarter million muskrat pelts at their March 2023 sale, but most didn’t sell because buyers didn’t bid at the minimum prices the auction house felt the rat pelts commanded. A lack of international buyers in the market has certainly influenced the price of rat pelts and I don’t expect this to change anytime soon. Averages of $2-3 can be expected for now.
As predicted many times here at Trapping Today over the past two years, the coyote market has collapsed. The deterioration of the trendy Canada Goose type parka with fur-lined hoods has made it difficult to move any but the best western heavy coyotes. The top end coyotes are fetching around $30-40 on average, but demand drops off a cliff for any other grade of coyote. Eastern, Central and Southern coyotes are almost unsellable, with averages of $5-15 for the few lots that are selling.
Red Fox, Grey Fox
Foxes continue to sell, but the item continues to struggle due to limited demand. There’s just no fashion trend or commercial use that needs a lot of fox pelts. Prices are ranging from $5-15, similar to past years.
Bobcat pelt prices are holding up well. Although the top end Western bobcats have declined from their sky high prices of a few years ago, they are only available in limited quantities and buyers still want those fully-furred pelts with white, spotted bellies. Western bobcats averaged $300 at the most recent auction. What is most encouraging, however, is that the lower end bobcat pelts are doing so well. Northern bobcat pelts outside of the Western market are averaging around $100 or better. Southern bobcats are going for $40 or better.
The skunk market has always been a novelty one, with most of the skunk pelts being used as wall hangers, craft items or for other unique uses outside of the fur clothing market. With the downturn in the raccoon market and lower trapper effort targeting raccoons, fewer skunks are being caught as well. That’s resulted in higher prices, with skunks bringing around $15 on average.
With the ongoing war in Ukraine and sanctions on Russia, it’s been more difficult for much of the international market to purchase Russian sable, which may be what’s increasing the demand for marten pelts. Overall, marten averaged $40 in the most recent FHA auction, with better Alaskan and Canadian marten are averaging $50, and smaller and lower quality pelts bringing around $20. Marten demand was high enough that the auction cleared 100% of the offering, and my Maine marten averaged better than they have in years.
Another item in limited supply, fisher pelts have also sold well recently, with averages around $40.
The $120 average Fur Harvesters achieved for Canada lynx at their most recent auction is a dramatic improvement on what we’ve seen for lynx prices in recent history.
Badger and Weasel did well at auction, averaging $21 and $4.80, respectively.
Highlights, lowlights, and not much in between. It’s a bifurcated fur market in 2023, and the species you have to offer makes all the difference in the size of this year’s fur check.