Saturday, January 28th, 2023
Saturday, January 28th, 2023

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Sportsmen Since 1967

That’s a wrap; Fur registration for otter and bobcat

Staff Writer

Cambridge, Minn. Ryan Erickson admits the payoff from his
trapped animals is nice. But the stack of dollars his hobby
provides is unlikely to fund an early retirement.

“It’s a little money in my pocket at the end of the year,” said
Erickson, 17.

The high school student on Tuesday came directly from school to
the DNR station in Cambridge to register his single otter, which
was frozen, but still malleable, after a day in the cab of his
truck. It was the last day for hunters and trappers alike to
register bobcats and otters, the seasons for which ended on Jan.
9.

This was Erickson’s second season trapping on his own.

“Last year, I gave (the furs) to my friends,” Erickson said.
“This is the first year I’ve really gotten into it; it’s something
to do outside the hunting season.”

The otter he registered, along with seven beavers, six raccoons,
10 muskrats and a mink, all fell victim to Erickson’s traps during
the year. He sold most of the furs to a fur company. He’s not sure
what he’ll do with the otter, the first one he’s ever trapped.

Erickson’s story selling his furs to fur buyers or putting them
on an auction is like that of many other trappers, said Doug
Welinski, wildlife technician at the Cambridge office who last
Tuesday registered furs, and made small talk with those who brought
their furs in.

“Good luck with your sales,” he told most as they left the
building. Most trappers and hunters who register their furs sell
them. Some furs, like the dense, silky ones found on otters, are
used to make things like hats, coats and garment trim. China, with
its vigorous fur industry, snatches up many of the otter pelts.

“It sure is a way of recuperating some of the costs of the
hobby,” said Welinski, a trapper himself.

As he’s registered the various furbearers and talked to those
who take them, Welinski has noted a trend away from local fur
buyers and toward fur auctions.

“Anytime you take that middleman step out, which local buyers
are, the trappers get a better price,” Welinski said.

Wayne Hass, a trapper from Ogilvie, expects to make anywhere
from $85 to $100 per otter for his four-otter limit he registered
Tuesday. His furs from animals like bobcats, otters and raccoons
are headed to Canada for the North American Fur Auction.

He either throws the carcasses out, or uses meat from them as
bait in other traps. This year, he also mixed some of his beaver
meat with bear meat and made it into sausage.

Hass has trapped most of his life, but said he quit in the 1980s
when fur prices dropped too low.

“There was more money in working than trapping,” he said.

He resumed the sport a couple years ago, mostly because his
grandson was old enough to tag along. Now 13, his grandson goes
along most weekends.

“When he got old enough, I thought What the heck?’ Hass said.
“Plus, he likes the cash.”

Furbearer registration in Cambridge has been steady all year,
Welinski said. That’s because fur prices, such as for otters, are
relatively high this year.

“Anytime you get higher fur prices, you get more interest,”
Welinski said. “We have abundant otters, so sometimes trapping them
isn’t so hard.”

Bobcat furs in good condition and with good color can bring in
as much as $200, Welinski said. Wayne and Frank Knapper, who live
near Cambridge, registered the one bobcat they took this
season.

They’re giving the fur to a high school student for his
taxidermy class.

In the past couple of years, many trappers and hunters have sold
their bobcats and fishers to taxidermists, who buy and sell them as
mounts, Welinski said.

The Knappers shot the bobcat after their dogs treed it. They’re
also active in running raccoons and killing them. Raccoons can be
hunted throughout the year, and there is no limit on them.

The Knappers sell raccoon furs to fur buyers. Compared with
bobcats and otters, their take is small; $10 for a big raccoon with
nice fur, $5 to $7 for an average-sized animal.

Raccoon numbers are high where they hunt, Frank Knapper said. “A
friend of ours has taken over 200 hides in (this year),” he
said.

In addition to watching the dogs pursue the coons, and despite
the low fur prices, the Knappers enjoy hunting them for another
reason. “I think a raccoon is one of the biggest (duck and
pheasant) egg stealers there is,” Frank said.

Wayne Knapper, an avid duck hunter, concurred, saying he often
sees raccoon sign in the same areas where ducks are on their
nests.

“I don’t know why more bird hunters don’t support more raccoon
hunters,” he said. “I’ll see raccoon tracks right up to the duck’s
nest and out the other side.”

An information source

Kerry Beckman, another DNR employee, attached tags through the
animals’ nostrils as Welinski took information like where they were
trapped. Biologists determine furbearer regulations based on the
harvest.

Additionally, the DNR this year is collecting marten heads and
bobcat carcasses and sending them to the Grand Rapids research
station. Martens’ teeth are being tested to determine their
ages.

Bobcats undergo more rigorous examinations, including DNA
testing. Researchers want information on the age structure of state
bobcats, as well as reproductive information. They want to know if
bobcats are in-breeding, or if they’re breeding with lynx, Welinski
said.

Editor’s note: Have a “Road Trip” story idea for Staff Writer
Joe Albert? Call (763) 546-4251 or drop him an email at
joe@outdoornews.com

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