Coyotes, muskrats bright spots for Illinois fur sellers

Springfield — The first couple of wild fur sales of interest to Illinois trappers occurred in January. For several important Midwestern species, the market holds some promise over last year’s prices and clearances. Reports of a reduced harvest may yet buoy prices. Certain items are definitely hot, particularly coyotes – even Illinois coyotes.

Fur Harvester’s Auction

The first international wild fur auction was held in North Bay, Ontario, by Fur Harvester’s Auction Inc. on Jan. 9. There was a limited offering. The last receiving date for this auction (that is, the last date that fur is accepted for the upcoming sale) was in early December. As few wild fur trappers have marketed their pelts by this date, this first sale for FHA always has a small offering.

A small offering of beavers (15,531) was 84 percent sold with averages for easterns of $12.54. Illinois beavers are not the most desirable in the country, but this is a hatters market so size will be more important than anything. Few beavers are going into the garment market. One very bright spot in the beaver market was castor sales. These were sold private treaty (not during the auction) and the prices were substantial. We saw $71 per pound for Grade 1, $60 per pound for Grade 2, and $50 per pound for Grade 3. Folks who are not saving their castor are really missing a bet. I have caught large beavers that produced over a quarter-pound of castor. At these prices, the castor may be worth more than the pelt.

Small offerings of river otters (2,216) and muskrats (110,344) were mostly withdrawn. This was disappointing, especially for the muskrats, as trappers were anxiously awaiting some indication of upward movement on this staple Midwestern fur. Some buyers have reported a $6 top in the country with averages for good collections in the $4 range.

A small offering of wild mink sold the males at 60 percent with $10.20 averages. Females struggled with 30 percent clearances and a $7.27 average.

A miniscule offering of raccoons, 34,422, sold at a disappointing 35 percent and averages of $12.54. While these were fresh goods, they were early-caught. Hopefully the market will respond more strongly to the larger offerings of fresh goods in the March international auction.

Canines sold very well as the trim market is still roaring. Red foxes sold a bit higher than last year with northern goods averaging $23.22 and 100 percent clearances. Flatter eastern goods sold for $19.98 with a 71 percent clearance rate. Prices were based on a very small offering of 471 red foxes.

The high point of the sale was coyotes. In all, 8,542 coyotes were offered. Westerns sold 90 percent, as expected. Easterns brought an average of $51.54 with clearances of 60 percent. To give you an idea of what a big deal this was is that the same section in the January 2017 FHA sale sold for an average of $25.61 and a clearance rate of 41 percent. This is significant as Eastern prices have doubled over the last year with clearance rates increasing by 50 percent. This bodes very well for Illinois’ lower quality coyote.

Illinois Trappers Association Fur Sale

Trappers were pleasantly surprised, for the most part, at the prices wild fur brought at the Jan. 27 Illinois Trappers Association sale held at Krile Auction House in Strausburg.

Although the offering was not large by historical standards (1,074 pieces of fur), for the most part, prices were substantially higher than last year:

  • 66 beavers were sold at an $8.55 average and a $15 top. No beaver castor was offered.
  • 87 muskrats sold for a $4.15 average and a $6.50 top.
  • 15 finished river otters sold for a $17.23 average and a $28 top.
  • 15 male mink sold for a $14.60 average and 10 female mink sold for an average of $8.40.
  • 562 raccoons sold for a $7.23 average and a top of $12.
  • 21 red fox sold for an average of $14.55 with a $22.50 top.
  • 34 opossums averaged $1.39 with a $3 top.
  • Seven bobcats were offered, bringing a $36 average and a top of $53.
  • 126 coyotes sold for an average of $22.63 and a top end of $66.

Muskrats and coyotes were definite bright spots at this sale.

Upcoming auctions

By the time you read this, North American Fur Auctions will have held its first wild fur sale of 2018. This Toronto, Ontario, sale will be selling over 4.2 million ranch mink. Wild fur, at least most Midwestern species, will sell with the following offering: 35,486 beavers, 4,138 river otters, 16,215 wild mink, 315,190 muskrats, 149,045 raccoons, and 31,029 red foxes. Last year none of these species were offered at NAFA’s first sale.

A respectable 73,558 coyotes were to be offered, up from 32, 220 offered at the same sale last year. Clearances at last year’s sales were 100 percent for all sections with semi-heavy averages at $38.15 and Eastern averages at $47.23.

NAFA will have two more Toronto sales of wild fur this year, May 13-19 and July 6-10.

The next FHA sale was to follow hard on the heels of the late February NAFA sale. This sale was to be held in Helsinki, Finland, and has been a very good sale for wild fur since FHA made the decision to move its second sale of the year to Europe. This year’s Helsinki auction was set for March 7-13.

FHA will have one additional sale in 2018. That sale will be in North Bay, Ontario, on May 24.

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