When I was in high school the trappers were easy to identify. They arrived in Home Room with their hip waders rolled down below their knees. They were also the guys who always had a little extra ching in their pockets.. From the sale of the fur-bearing animal pelts they had caught.
But the prices pelts bring today don't make you want to go out and buy a bunch of #3 traps to upgrade your line. Blame the recession, PETA and the globalization of the fur market.
A few years ago a good beaver pelt would bring over $50. The demand was mainly in Russia where PETA's gospel isn't heard much. Then the price of oil dropped and, since Russia is an exporter of oil, there went the beaver market. A good one today will net you $25 if you're lucky.
Twenty years ago a fisher pelt would fetch $400. Today? $20. It seems coat buyers around the world can get by without the fisher fur trim in a down economy.
Badger, red or grey fox, fisher and even wild mink pelts are commanding just $20. I'm getting all this fur market information from a neighbor who buys and ships thousands of animal pelts a year. Ships where? China, were lax pollution control laws and less expensive labor allow for cheaper tanning. Deer hides from Minnesota come back from China in the form of gloves. But the best deer leather goes from China to Italy. Can we say Gucci?
The rarer animal pelts still bring bigger prices. A Minnesota bobcat in good shape is worth $100. A wolverine, if you could find one in Minnesota, commands $400. But most of the fur-bearing animals plentiful in our state -- raccoon, skunk, coyote and muskrat are not worth much. A great raccoon pelt: $20. Minnesota coyotes, which don't grow the fine coats they do in, say Saskatchewan or the highland country in Montana, just $6.50. A stretched and dried skunk pelt: $10. The one piece of good news is the muskrat which are quite plentiful and are selling for $6.50 apiece. The Chinese have decided they like muskrat fur.