Furs that were harvested by NWT trappers snagged almost $500,000 during a recent international auction.

Marten, lynx, fox and other pelts were sold during last month’s Saga, American Legend and Fur Harvesters auction in Helsinki, Finland.

Altogether, $499, 872.07 worth of wild furs were sold under the GNWT-managed Genuine Mackenzie Valley Fur brand during the auction — nearly doubling last year’s total.

Industry, Tourism and Investment Minister Wally Schumann.

Marten pelts were by far the most popular, amassing more than $430,000 in sales.

Officials with the territory’s Department of Industry, Tourism and Investment say the Helsinki auction presented a unique opportunity to showcase NWT furs to an international market.

This year’s auction included new buyers from the Asian and European markets.

In preparation for this Helsinki auction, the territorial government ensured NWT trappers were represented at the China Fur and Leather Products Fair in Beijing back in January.

“The fur trade is the heart of our territory’s cultural and economic history,” said Industry, Tourism and Investment Minister Wally Schumann. “It is also an important part of our shared future.

“We are committed to supporting and growing the international visibility of our Genuine Mackenzie Valley Fur brand to grow and protect the economic and cultural returns we realize from our territory’s original economy.”

Marten is by far the NWT’s most sought-after species, according to the territorial government. This year, sales in Helsinki were more than $160,000 higher than they were in 2016.

Officials say the fur industry ‘fell sharply’ between 2013 and 2014, but this year’s results indicate a significant rebound.

Genuine Mackenzie Valley Fur brand provides opportunity for NWT trappers

According to the territorial government, the Genuine Mackenzie Valley Fur program provides NWT trappers with unprecedented access to the international fur market.

Through the program, trappers are provided a guaranteed price for furs harvested and submitted for sale. If furs sell at a greater price, the difference is then returned to the trapper.

“There are no losers,” Schumann told MLAs in the legislature last month. “It’s revenue-neutral for our government, and it provides stability and certainty for our trappers and their families.

“It puts money in the pockets of our trappers and brings diversity to our economy.  The social and cultural benefit it provides citizens across our territory is priceless, and irreplaceable.”

It’s estimated that traditional economic activities generate more than $2 million for the territory’s economy every year.