While Kansas upland bird hunters did not fare too well on opening weekend, furharvesters in the state are looking forward to a productive season. For the first time in many years, most of the nation's largest fur buyers are entering the season with their cupboards nearly bare. And with demand from major foreign markets expected to remain stable or even increase, a high level of optimism surrounds the fur trade.
This is doubly good news for Kansas furharvesters because populations of most Kansas furbearer species are abundant, and harvest levels are expected to surpass those of recent seasons. Much of the excitement pertains to the long-haired furbearers such as raccoon, bobcat, coyote, and red fox. Pelt values of striped skunk and badger are also expected to be strong. On the downside, beaver and the traditional muskrat and mink markets should continue to struggle.
Some furharvesters prefer to have their pelts tanned for clothing or display, but for those wishing to sell their pelts, several outlets exist. There are approximately 30 licensed fur buyers located throughout Kansas who purchase fur at various pick-up locations and their places of business, as well. For those who would like to have buyers compete for their pelts, the Kansas Fur Harvesters Association will host three pelt auctions in Abilene, one each in December, January, and February. Pelts may also be shipped or sold out of state to various other buyers or the major auction houses in the country. (Phone (620) 342-0658 for more information.)
A furharvester's license is required to harvest or salvage any furbearer in Kansas, and anyone born after July 1, 1966, must have successfully completed a furharvester education course before purchasing a license. Beaver trapping season runs Nov. 13 through Mar. 31. Other furbearer species may be trapped or hunted from Nov. 13 through Feb. 15.
Live furbearers legally acquired during the furharvesting seasons may be kept only through the last day of the season. Unskinned carcasses -except bobcats and swift fox - may be kept for not more than 48 hours following the closing of the season. Raw pelts may not be kept past the following dates: beaver - April 30; bobcat, raccoon, red and gray fox, and opossum Feb. 28; other furbearers -- March 17.
Bobcats and swift foxes must be pelt tagged within 7 days of season closing. Tags should be kept with mounted bobcats. Bobcat and swift fox pelts with export tags, and coyotes (tag not required), may be possessed for an unlimited time.
Exceptions to these regulations may be granted by special permit. Check with a local conservation officer.