For generations, Myron Graber's family has looked to Kansas furbearers for added winter income. His father trapped muskrats to earn money every winter.
Graber has used his fur-buying business to supplement other incomes for about three decades.
This year it may be costing him money.
"It's terrible this year," said Graber, of Cheney. "We really don't have a market. I'm buying furs but we don't know what we should pay or what we'll ever get for the fur."
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Two years ago, Graber often paid about $20 for raccoons. This year's average price is about $5 and some sell for much lower.
In the 2007-08 winter, he sometimes paid $130-$180 for bobcats and most went for at least $100. This year the average is about $30.
Sometimes furs aren't even selling at world-renowned fur auctions for the garment industry.
"It's the economy," Graber said. "It's affected everybody world-wide. People aren't buying so retailers have backed-up stock and it just keeps going."
Graber said Russia's current economic crisis has much to do with low prices paid for Kansas furs.
"Russia buys about 95 percent of the raccoons North America has produced over the years. It all goes somewhere on one of their coats," Graber said. "Russians need the fur, they want the fur, but they simply don't have the monetary means to get it."
Graber said he's paying the best he can and will place most in storage. Hopefully prices are good enough next year to recoup what he's paid and the overhead to hold the furs over.
Not all fur harvesters remain so active.
Matt Peek, Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks furbearer biologist, said low fur prices seems to curtail trapping activity.
When coyotes are selling for $2 and raccoons for $5, many people won't invest the time and money to run a large trap line.
High fur prices two years ago lead to a 20-year high of 6,358 fur harvesting permits sold in Kansas. This year could see far less.
Another downside to low prices is that it makes the sport less appealing to beginners.
"I sort of think when prices spike is when we recruit the next generation of fur harvesters," Peek said. "There's a lot more interest in it."
Peek said some longtime trappers and houndsmen still stay active through times with low prices. Most such trappers set far fewer traps or release animals caught in live traps. Those running hounds for raccoons will shoot only a small fraction of what their dogs tree.
Graber said he largely stays active in fur-buying because of it's enjoyable and a valued tradition.
Arnold Nisly, a Hutchinson trapper, is still running a line of about 40 traps daily for the same reasons.
"I enjoy the outdoors," Nisly said. "With low prices it's not nearly as much fun but it's still being outdoors."
Nisly said he still sees benefits to catching raccoons, opossums and skunks.
All have been proven to have detrimental effects on nests of quail, pheasant and ground-nesting songbirds.
He also thinks it's important to keep furbearer numbers under control so disease doesn't quickly spread through a high percentage of the population.
Canine distemper often come in areas of high furbearer populations. It can kill large numbers of raccoons, coyotes and foxes.
Nisly said he likes to help landowners and farmers.
One farmer routinely asks he trap coyotes just prior to when his cows have calves.
Another wants him to trap badgers that are digging huge holes in his farm fields.
But he's largely continued trapping because of the challenge and the uncertainty of what each run of the line will bring.
There are often surprises, like a beautifully-colored bobcat.
Some surprises aren't quite as enjoyable.
Last week Nisly found a skunk in one of his traps. Normally he shoots the skunk and there are no problems.
Not this time.
"I was in a hurry and when I shot I missed," Nisly said. "When I did that it sprayed me. I guess his aim was a better than mine."