Raccoon Pelt Price and Trapper Harvest Relationships Are Temporally Inconsistent

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Trapping data have a long and rich history of use in monitoring furbearer populations in North America but understanding the influences of variation in trapper harvest is important. Many factors besides abundance can cause variation in trapper harvest, including socioeconomics, weather, and motivation. The relationships between these extrinsic factors and trapper harvest may change temporally, which may obscure the causal understanding of variation in trapper harvest. We tested for changes in the relationships between pelt price and trapper numbers, and pelt price and harvest per trapper for raccoons (Procyon lotor) in Illinois, USA, from 1976–2018 while controlling for other socioeconomic (gasoline price, unemployment) and weather (temp, snow depth) factors. The annual raccoon harvest showed no clear trend, whereas the number of raccoon trappers declined markedly from approximately 1976–1990 in conjunction with pelt prices, after which the number of trappers remained relatively stable and were not significantly affected by pelt price. In contrast, harvest per trapper increased markedly during the 1990s and showed a significant negative relationship with pelt price pre-1990 but a positive relationship post-1990. We propose that declines in pelt prices resulted in a loss of less experienced or economically incentivized trappers, whereas contemporary trappers may continue trapping primarily for non-economic reasons. Our study highlights the potential for using non-linear relationships between trapper harvest data and socioeconomic covariates to help understand the influences of temporal variation in trapper harvest data.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1601-1610
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Wildlife Management
Issue number8
StatePublished - Nov 1 2020


  • Procyon lotor
  • demography
  • furbearer
  • harvest
  • motivation
  • pelt prices
  • raccoon
  • trapping

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation


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