Trappers and those who handle fur use a term called “prime.” It’s called prime when an animal grows a dense underfur and long guard hairs, and this fur insulates and protects the animal during the winter months. The animal fur is at its peak primeness when the underfur is thickest and the guard hairs at their longest.

Many believe that cold weather makes fur-bearers start growing their fur in its prime. Yet this is untrue as the temperature has nothing to do with the fur being at its fullest. However, it starts based on the amount of daylight in 24 hours. When the days get shorter, this process begins called photoperiodism. this process is about the amount of sunlight that the animal’s retina takes in during a day. This process affects many different animals, from those that hibernate to those who will search for mates and begin breeding. The more north and west you go, the fuller an animal’s pelt may be. A northwestern coyote will have a thicker, more dense fur than those in the southeast because of the longer, colder weather in that region.  

The primeness of animal fur is a major factor in determining the start and length of a trapping season. The wildlife resource agencies in each state determine the optimal time based on when each furbearer’s primeness is at its peak. The thicker and more prime the pelt is, the higher quality it is. Also, the more desired and valuable it is by trappers and fur handlers.

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