Prices for wild fur are on the rise again, and some say that's promoting new interest in Canada's oldest profession: trapping.
Furs are coming back into fashion in Europe and North America, but the main impetus behind the price increases comes from Russian and Chinese buyers.
Trapper Clarke Gaylord of the Frontenac Addington Trappers Council said the Golden Age of trapping was about 30 years ago.
"The '80s were excellent," he said. "That's when it fell to its ass. After that they were nothing. You'd get beaver averaging $12, $15, which is not worth the effort."
'We will get the people back'
But now, the prices for beaver, marten, fisher, fox and otter fur are higher than they've been in decades. A large beaver pelt is now worth about $60 to $70, Gaylord said.
As a result, Gaylord said the newest trapper in his district is a 13-year-old girl. Her sister is also interested.
"One is going to be trapping for sure.… Her father is a trapper, and she just wanted to do it.... They love it outside and they want to be in the outdoors," he said.
Trapping is still not a way to make a full living, Gaylord said, but the increase in fur prices makes the hobby more attractive to people.
"As the prices go up, we will get the people back," he said. "It's just the way it is. If people can't make money at stuff, they just won't do it, they're not interested. But it is getting better."
Robin Horwath of the Ontario Fur Managers Federation said he's seen the average age of trappers go up over the years.
But he said last year, he saw the biggest enrolment in trapping courses in 16 years — and many of the applicants are young.
"We're getting a lot of applications of people between 12 and 15 that have taken the course in the last couple of years, and now they're able to get their licence, too," he said. "So we certainly see an increase in the number of young people getting involved."
Howarth credits changes to the law this year that allow people to start trapping, with a mentor, as young as 12.