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Fur to hit auction
Global unrest and Chinese slow-down could affect pelt prices

Walter Strong
Northern News Services
Published Monday, November 10, 2014

Last year's fur auctions fetched record prices, but the manager for fur marketing/traditional economy with Industry, Tourism and Investment is cautioning that the global climate for fur purchases may have softened.

nnsl photo

Jawah Scott, Jessica Florio, and Kayley Mackay all wearing Dene Fur Clouds designs during a wild fur fashion show for members of the Arctic Council last winter in Yellowknife. Francois Rossouw, manager for fur marketing/traditional economy with the Department of Industry, Tourism and Investment cautions that it may not be a banner year for fur sales. - NNSL file photo

Pointing to this summer's developments in Eastern Europe which has led to Western sanctions being levelled against Russia and a general decline in the Chinese economy, Francois Rossouw doesn't see any increases in the price pelts will fetch at upcoming fur auctions.

"The issues with Russia and Ukraine have definitely put a damper on the fur trade," Rossouw told News/North, explaining that this is because Russia is a large customer.

With approximately 80 per cent of fur industry product now manufactured in China, China has become one of the largest buying groups in the world.

Anything that affects fur purchase in China can affect the bottom line for the NWT fur industry.

"China's 25 per cent import duty on raw fur has put a damper on things," Rossouw added.

Last year, the Genuine Mackenzie Valley Furs Program had $2.3 million in total sales, $1.7 million of which was from marten. These pelts, on average, sold for $155, up from $105 in 2012.

The GNWT fur marketing program buys pelts from about 800 hunters and trappers across the NWT, and then sells them through the North Bay, Ont.-based Fur Harvesters Auction Inc.

There's a sale upcoming Jan. 22 in North Bay, with another running March 10 to 11 in Finland.

Rossouw added that the most important thing now is for freeze up to come so trappers can get out on the land.

"Everybody is loving the warm weather, but we need it to get colder and freeze the land and freeze the lakes and rivers so the guys can get out and do it (trap)."

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