CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- With West Virginia's trapping season underway, trappers are probably wondering how many pelts they'll collect and how much buyers will be willing to pay for those pelts.
The answer to the first question depends largely on weather and the amount of time trappers spend maintaining and running their trap lines. The second question is easier to answer.
"It looks like all the prognosticators are saying we're in a mini fur boom," said Rich Rogers, furbearer project leader for the state Division of Natural Resources. "If they're right, prices should stay high for at least a few years."
Rogers said the last couple of years have been good to Mountain State trappers.
"Prices for just about everything have been up, and there's every indication they're going to stay there for a while," he said. "With that in mind, I'd say next year's first fur sale, in March, will be pretty exciting."
Data from game-check tags and last year's fur sales indicated high harvest levels for all furbearer species. Overall, harvests weren't as high in 2012-13 as they were in 2011-12.
Beaver and bobcat were the only two species that showed increases, probably because their pelts tend to draw high prices. Rogers said when prices for certain species rise, trappers tend to focus on those species.
"Lately the high-dollar pelts have been bobcat and gray fox. And muskrat prices have been very high for such a small animal," he explained.
The fur boom is coming at a good time for trappers. At a time when the economy is so poor, trapping gives its practitioners an opportunity to make much-needed cash.