Uncertainty tampers Fur Harvesters Auction
For Illinois trappers, the fur harvest season is basically over – all that’s left is marketing. Several international auctions have been held lately selling both ranch and wild fur. None of them have been anything to write home about. The Kopenhagen Fur ranch mink auction in Denmark was held February 24-28, the Saga Furs ranch fur auction March 7-15, and the Fur Harvesters Auctions (FHA) March 24-28 all resulted in low prices and lower clearances.
The impacts of Russia’s actions in the Ukraine, what with sanctions and uncertainty in the financial markets, are having dramatic effects on the fur trade and that showed in the latest Fur Harvesters Auction (FHS) sale.
Fur Harvesters Auction
Leading up to this sale, there were two above mentioned international ranch fur auctions that often set the tone for the FHA sale. Saga Furs, at their March auction, had an offing of about 12,500,000 mink. They sold just 500,000, similar to the Kopenhagen ranch mink auction in February. Prices at both auctions were at or close to historic lows. These numbers are not a good lead in to a wild fur auction.
A look at the offering the offering for the FHA shows a small number of furs consigned (30,000 raccoon, 45,000 coyote, 125,000 muskrat, 8,000 red fox). This shows either historically low catches or simply a desire on the part of FHA to not put all their consigned fur on the line, considering the uncertain market.
Overall this was not a good sale. Some items did relatively well. Beaver had very good clearances for Midwestern types. This market is a hatter market so prices were low, averaging about $10-$11 (about the same as last year). Otter did ok, with an average of a bit less than $20 ($3-$4 less than last year). That’s it for the good news.
Muskrats, coyote, and raccoon did poorly, to say the least. The muskrat offing was mostly unsold. The type of coyote we have here in Illinois found very few (and very selective) buyers with clearances of 15-20%. Those highly selected for coyotes only brought a $17 average (compared with 80% clearances and about a $25-$30 average last year). Raccoons, which in Illinois typically grade either Eastern or North Central, had 5-18% clearances with averages ranging from $3.89-$8.40. Remember, with these low clearances those were prices realized for what was likely the cream of the crop.
FHA is planning one more sale this year to be held at North Bay, Ontario, over June 23-27. As happened last year with raccoon, and the previous year with muskrat, FHA will often make private treaty sales after their auction season concludes. They typically do not get great prices at these private treaty sales, with the exception of beaver castor. This is also sold private treaty, but the prices for castor in recent years has been historically high. Caster is often now more valuable than the beaver pelt.
Trapper association sales
Trapper association sales this year have provided the highest clearances and highest prices for wild fur in either this country or international sales.. While prices have certainly been affected by all that is happening, to date the fur offered has had buyers. Most states (including Illinois) have already completed their sales, but it has been interesting to look at some of the sales that happened since the Russian invasion.
Let’s spotlight the Ohio State Trappers Association sale on March 12 at Kidron, Ohio. Over 7600 pieces of fur sold. Coyotes at Kidron (only 246 sold) brought an average of $13.23. Not bad, considering both the market and the fact that these were Easterns, one of the least desirable market sectors. Over 5200 muskrats were sold at a very respectable $3.52 average (contrast that with the FHA where muskrats couldn’t find a buyer). Note that this sale also included one of the most common Midwestern furs, raccoon. 1351 were sold at a pretty dismal $3.25 average, but that’s the raccoon market this spring and they sold, which didn’t happen at FHA.