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Fur Bearing Animals. FURBEARING MAMMALS . The furbearing mammals of Texas include those so defined by law and two additional species (bobcat and coyote) that are not included legally among furbearers, but that have valuable pelts and thus are of considerable importance economically.
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FURBEARING MAMMALS. The furbearing mammals of Texas include those so defined by law and two additional species (bobcat and coyote) that are not included legally among furbearers, but that have valuable pelts and thus are of considerable importance economically.
Because of its size and ecological diversity, Texas has more furbearing species than any other of the contiguous United States-one marsupial, three rodents, and eighteen carnivores.
Formerly, wolves, bears, mountain lions, and some hoofed mammals (especially bison) also were sought in part for their fur or hides.
The beaver (Castor canadensis) is a semiaquatic rodent that occupies ponds, lakes, and waterways in eastern and central Texas and westward along the Rio Grande and Canadian River. It is no longer harvested in any numbers; the pelts were valued at about ten dollars.
The badger (Taxidea taxus) occurs in all but the far eastern part of the state. About 10,000 pelts of this powerful burrower are sold in an average year; their value may be as much as twenty dollars each.
The red fox (Vulpes vulpes) occupies much of eastern and central Texas. Although native to the United States, the red fox was not introduced into Texas until about 1895. The pelt of this canid is of only modest value.
The gray fox (Urocyon cinereoargenteus), which occurs nearly throughout the state, is among the five most important furbearers in Texas. Between 1976 and 1982 more than 225,000 were taken, with an estimated value of about $6.5 million.
The kit and swift foxes (Vulpes macrotis and V. velox) are small, pale-colored foxes found in West Texas. Because of their small size and because they are rarely found, they are of little significance in the fur trade; fewer than 1,500 of the two species combined are taken annually.
The mink (Mustela vison) is one of the most important furbearing mammals in the United States, so much so that it now is raised commercially. It is not as important economically in Texas as farther north. The price for the pelt of a wild-taken male is about twelve dollars; the smaller females bring about half as much.
The muskrat, a semiaquatic rodent (Ondatra zibethicus), is one of the most important furbearers in the United States in terms of numbers taken each year. It was once important in Texas, but it now provides only about two percent of the total income from fur sales.
The nutria is a semiaquatic native of southern South America. It was introduced into Louisiana in the 1930s and now occurs over much of the southeastern United States. Between 1976 and 1982 trappers in East Texas took more than 220,000 nutria at an estimated value of $1.6 million.
The Virginia opossum (Didelphis virginiana) is a marsupial that occurs throughout most of Texas. It is the second most commonly harvested furbearer in Texas, but pelts are worth less than two dollars each.
The river otter (Lutra canadensis) is a semiaquatic member of the weasel family and has been a valued furbearer in North America. Few pelts are harvested in Texas, although they command an average price of about thirty-five dollars.
The raccoon (Procyon lotor) is economically the most important furbearing mammal in Texas. It is distributed statewide, but is much more common in the east. The annual take of this carnivore usually exceeds 500,000 animals at a value in excess of $13 million.
The ringtail (Bassariscus astutus), a smaller relative of the raccoon, occurs throughout Texas except for the far southern part. It is found principally in rocky and wooded areas. Pelts average about six dollars each.
The striped skunk is common, and its pelt normally brings about two dollars at market.
Western and eastern spotted skunks (Spilogale gracilis and S. putorius) are of little economic value; their pelts usually sell for less than five dollars.