In the case of valuable marten pelts, bigger – and darker – is usually better.
Trappers from across the north gathered at the Senator Allen Bird Memorial Centre last weekend to sell their furs. Four buyers were on hand, including Mary Schellenberg representing North American Fur Auctions (NAFA).
Schellenberg said the majority of pelts sold were marten furs; a small, slender animal related to both the mink and ferret.
“It’s the money maker; the easier animal to trap, the easier animal to skin,” she said. “That’s what these trappers trap. In the southern part of the province there’s more coyotes or muskrat.”
According to NAFA’s report on the February auction of 2016, marten furs went for an average of roughly $53 USD, with a $90 USD premium price. Schellenburg said larger pelts from heavier weighted martens with darker coats usually fetched top dollar.
Schellenberg said trappers must take precautions when maintaining fur quality. Something called taint occurred when pelts are not handled or prepared properly.
“With things that have a lot of fat on them, if it’s not scraped off properly, you’ll get where the hair will slip,” Schellenberg. “It just falls out.”
Schellenberg said as far as she knows, this is one of the few opportunities northern trappers have to show their furs to both buyers and auctioneers in the same room.
“We’re giving these trappers an opportunity to ship to the auction, whereas most of the time they’re selling to fur buyers,” Schellenberg said. “Which means that they get one payment and that’s it. With the auction company they can get an advance, normally up to about 50 per cent of the value.”
Schellenberg explained the trappers would wait until the end of February in order to obtain the rest of their payment. Sometimes, it’s worth the little bit of extra wait though.
“There’s been times in the past where the fur buyer has been kind of on the low side,” Schellenberg said. “When the goods actually sell, they’re quite a bit more then people that ship to the auction are happy.”
Northern furs are sold throughout the globe, particularly Asian markets including China and South Korea.
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