The fur is about to fly. Fur prices that is.
Across the North trappers are waiting for their cheques from the first auction of 2018. The auction was held by Fur Harvesters Auction Inc. in North Bay, Ont.
"We're expecting improvement for long hair trim articles — coyote, wolves, fisher, marten, red fox, heavy raccoon. But water animals like beaver, otter, wild mink, is where the market is still depressed," said Fur Harvesters CEO Mark Downey.
Wolf, wolverine, beaver and muskrat were the main pelts to hit the auction block last week.
Coyote is the signature trim for hoods on the popular Canada Goose brand parka. Downey said prices on those furs are 50 per cent higher than they were two years ago.
"Trappers in the Northwest Territories can expect similar prices, possibly even better," Downey added.
Under the Genuine Mackenzie Valley Fur program, a fur purchasing program run by the territorial government, trappers get advances for their furs. Marten, branded as northern sable by Downey, gets a $65 advance per pelt. A lynx will fetch a trapper an $80 advance.
Biggest sale still to come
But the final market value of the pelts won't be clear until March, after the biggest sale of the year in Helsinki, Finland. Downey says pelts will fetch the highest prices at that auction, where they have the largest exposure to Russian and Asian markets.
Trappers from Colville Lake, N.W.T., also attended the first sale of the season, to see where their pelts are bought and sold.
"We want to get young people involved, and people who are interested and actually trappers. Right now we do a lot of sales [and] you have to know the fur," said Wilbert Kochon, Colville Lake's Behdzi Ahda First Nation chief.
He said two youth from the community will be chosen this month to be taught how to grade fur by Fur Harvesters Auction Inc.
2013 was a record high year for fur prices. Downey cites the slowing of the Chinese economy and drop in oil prices as main international pressures for a decline in fur pricing two years ago.
An earlier version of this story incorrectly said Canada Goose uses wolf fur trim on its parkas.Jan 16, 2018 11:44 AM CT