MISSOULA, Mont. - The industry that brought some of the first European explorers to Montana in the early 1800's is booming once again.
Fur prices have reached 30 year highs, thanks to an increase in buyers China, Russia, and Korea, according to the Montana Trappers Association.
"It's just an interesting thing to see that fur market continue," said Association President Toby Walrath. "Certainly there's a fur market in the United States, but other countries see the value in this beautiful natural resource that we have in our state, and we are able to benefit from that."
Walrath says Montana trappers received 2.7 million dollars in income in 2012 from the sale of raw fur.
"Fur is a natural resource grown right here in Montana. Trappers harvest that fur on a sustained yield basis, and we export it, and 100 percent of the revenue generated stays right here in Montana."
But not all Montanans believe the money is worth it.
"This increase in fur prices means a lot more animals are going to be killed," says Footloose Montana Board Member Connie Poten. "A lot more suffering will go on, a lot more traps will be out, a lot more pets will die in traps."
Poten argues that traps are hazardous to pets and endangered species.
"Wildlife is part of Montana's heritage, and it's really special to us. There are a lot of species that are right there on the edge - the wolverine, the lynx - traps go on in their territory, so they might just be exterminated with this. There's no reason, it's just money."
Walrath says, following state laws and regulations, trapping can be done in a safe and ethical way, and Montanans will benefit.
"Whether it's a beef cow, a white tail deer, an elk, or a bobcat, we take the responsibility of harvesting that animal in a manner that is in alignment with our current laws and regulations in the most ethical and responsible manner," said Walrath.