The first white settlers in North Dakota came for the fur trade. And while trapping has declined significantly over the years, it may be regaining in popularity.
It's one of the most challenging outdoor activities in North Dakota. And one man is using his skills to supplement his income.
"Fur is fashionable. Fur is warm. There's worldwide interest in fur. So, there is a market for those animals," says trapper Rick Tischaefer.
Trapping is a passion passed down from his grandfather. It's an activity he enjoys, that also helps manage the wildlife population.
"A lot of publics have an understanding that trappers don't respect the animals, that they're heartless and they don't care about their resource. But that's not true. A trapper wants to do what he does every year for the rest of his life," says furbearer biologist Stephanie Tucker of the North Dakota Game and Fish Department. "Furbearers are a renewable resource. And managed properly and humanely we should be able to enjoy that activity for many years to come."
There's been a decline of trappers over the years. But, it's regaining popularity.
"We're seeing fairly good prices for some of the furbearers right now, and that always peaks interest. So, you get more people out there," says Tucker.
The fur of many animals native to North Dakota are popular in countries such as China and Russia. Right now, a bobcat pelt can fetch as much as $450 at an international auction. Pelts that are tanned and trimmed get the highest return. But for Tischaefer, it's about more than turning a profit.
"I appreciate them being on the landscape. I want these animals to be healthy, and there's a love and respect for each one. The more you know about them, the more that develops inside of you," says Tischaefer.
Tischaefer says fur is still the warmest thing to wear. And he's already had two coats made for his wife.
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