LOWVILLE The attendance was higher than most could recall seeing at a fur collection point here last week, where local trappers delivered recently caught raw fur pelts.
Its up about 60 percent, said Ernie B. Mosher, North American Fur Auctions agent. Its a trend hes seen across the whole state.
Kevin Waterman, Lyons Falls, was one of the new faces at the auction.
Ive been trapping since I was nine, he said. Thats 50 years.
Recently retired, Mr. Waterman said he has more time to trap and the predicted higher fur prices prompted him to try his hand at an auction, rather then selling locally as he has in previous years.
A muskrat pelt, which he said used to sell for $1.50 or $2, now is anticipated to sell for about $10 to $12.
Brad Barber, Barnes Corners, returned to the sport after a number of years off.
I did it when I was younger, but the bottom fell out of the market, he said. He got back into trapping to supplement his income and to help raise his 7-year-old twins.
Its a fun pastime, he said.
Hes been trapping alongside his friend Jeffrey D. Fletcher, Worth, who is new to the sport. In preparing for the season, which began in October, they took a state Department of Environmental Conservation trapper education course last spring.
Carl Miller, Glenfield, said hed noticed the increase in trappers long before they met to deliver their furs.
Theres been a lot of guys out there. Sometimes Ive got to get way out to get away from the other traps, he said. He said he uses a canoe to get to remote locations. Its really a dying art.
James E. Boliver, New Bremen, isnt letting his skills and knowledge go to waste. This season he began teaching his two nephews all aspects of trapping, from scouting locations and setting traps to skinning and preparing the fur to delivering the pelts to NAFA.
Mr. Mosher, Little Falls, travels to numerous points daily. He tows a trailer to the location where trappers, mostly men, wait to fill out paperwork and fill NAFA bags with fur.
Mr. Mosher was running low on bags Friday and still had a stop in Alder Creek, completing several days of a tight schedule. He was taking a short break, then returning to the road for another four days of pickups.
The furs then are headed to Canada.
NAFAs auction is scheduled for February in Toronto, where pelts are sorted by the company according to type, size, shade, color and quality.
The pelts will be auctioned in large lots, according to their grade, to fur garment manufacturers and fur pelt dealers worldwide.
Trappers also can use the services of Fur Harvesters Auction Inc., which will hold its auction in March in Canada.
Agent Toby G. Edwards is just beginning his pickup schedule, with eight stops in St. Lawrence County on Saturday and stops Sunday in Gouverneur, Watertown, Lowville and Boonville.
Mr. Edwards predicted an increase as well.
Prices are up. I expect more quantity, he said.