Fur prices for most items are expected to continue their multi-year slump into the 2019 fur selling season. Why are fur prices so low? In short, we’re dealing with a combination of poor economies in Russia and China, low oil prices, and oversupply of ranched fur all at the same time. It’s the perfect storm.
Overall, expect the most commonly trapped water animals like beaver and mink to continue to struggle in the upcoming season, primarily because these pelts are usually purchased for middle end markets in Russia and China, and can be easily substituted for cheap ranch mink.
Specialty items that serve unique markets and can’t be easily substituted will do well despite the poor overall market. Higher end coyotes and bobcats will continue to meet strong demand and prices will be high.
Here’s a detailed overview of prices for individual species:
Beaver – $10-13 There’s essentially no coat market for beaver right now. A few shearable beaver will be purchased, but for the most part, beaver pelts are serving a lower end market and take a lot of time and effort to process. The hatter market has bought up the vast majority of beaver the past couple of years, and this will continue, but appears to be weakening some. We’ll likely be looking at averages around $10-13 for beaver. Because hatter beaver do not need to have fully prime pelts, prices for southern and western beaver are almost as good as those for fully prime northern pelts, meaning the price spread between low and high quality beaver has become extremely thin.
Beaver castor – demand for castor has continued to be strong, and the lower supply of castor due to fewer trapped beaver has caused prices to skyrocket. We should be seeing averages of at least $50-70 per pound for castor, depending on quality. There is potential for even further upside in the castor market moving forward.
Coyote – Most coyote pelts are being used as trim on hoods of down coats worn in the U.S. Because the American economy is in good shape and this fashion trend continues to grow, there will be no shortage of demand for better quality coyotes. Prime pelts with good color do best in this market, and coyotes from the Western Plains of Montana, the Dakotas, Alberta and similar areas will bring a lot of money. A few coyotes from other regions may be bid up as well if they meet standards. Look for averages of $70-100 for top quality western coyotes, and $25-45 for eastern coyotes. Midwest and southern coyotes will likely vary a lot in price depending on the state of demand and individual buyer needs. They could go as low as $10-20, or as high as $40.
Red Fox – fox has struggled to command a good price recently. Reds will probably average around $15-20.
Muskrat – Despite low prices for most water animals, there seems to be some increased demand for muskrats recently. A lot of rat pelts end up in Korea, and with improved relations between North and South Korea, the region is seeing positive economic growth, which seems to be resulting in increased demand for fur. Muskrats should average around $3-4. Nothing special, but better than the $2-3 I would have expected.
Mink – due to low demand and competition with ranch mink, wild mink will struggle. Expect $5-10, depending on size and quality.
Otter – There isn’t much market for otter, and the item probably could benefit greatly from a fashion trend. They will probably average around $20-30 in this market.
Raccoon – There is an abundant supply of raccoon pelts in cold storage throughout North America, and demand for most coons continues to be low. The biggest and best prime coons may bring more than $10, middle of the road coon may average $5, and small or low quality coons will bring $1-3, if they sell at all.
Bobcat – The high end luxury coat market in Russia will continue to drive demand for only the best Western bobcats with clear, wide, well spotted bellies. These cats will probably average in excess of $350, with the best of the best bringing far more. Demand and price drop off quickly, though, and the rest of the country will probably be looking at $60 or less averages on cats.
Lynx – For the past few years, lynx pelts have been averaging around $70, which is disappointingly low considering the work involved and the quality of the pelts. There have been rumors of some increased demand for lynx though, so I’d say $70 average is a safe bet, but there’s a good chance for upward movement.
Marten/Fisher – Marten and fisher are only present in certain areas, they are a unique item, and their supply is limited. Demand continues, and they should continue to do fairly well. The biggest and best prime marten from Canada and Alaska should average $70 or more, marten from the Northeast should get between $30-40, and Western marten will probably bring around $25. Fisher prices are a little more difficult to predict, as males and females go do different markets, but averages should be around $40 or more.
Due to the low fur market, the major auction companies have delayed their first auctions of the selling season to the beginning of March. Until then, most selling in the fur market will be done by local and regional fur buyers, and prices may vary more due to speculation and uncertainty. When the dust settles from the first major auction, we’ll understand much more about the state of the fur market, and hopefully the news will be better!
Looking for more background on the fur market, and alternatives to selling your fur? Check out my book “Fur Profit: A Trapper’s Guide to the Modern Fur Market”.