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24   COMMISSION OF CONSERVATION

seen a red vixen in that locality, and it was reported one winter that a silver fox was seen running with her. The following July (1900), Louis Holland and Louis Spence found the den and proceeded to dig the young foxes out. They found four blacks and three reds, which they sold to Charles Dalton for $300.

Many other instances show that litters frequently occur in nature as described above—half of the litter silver and half of it red. One red female ranched in Nova Scotia and mated to a silver fox has produced fourteen pups in the years 1910, 1911 and 1912. Seven of the pups are red and seven silver.

Most of the fox-breeders in other provinces have sold silver and dark silver stock to Prince Edward Island, where the demand has been greatest. Probably in all the dozen or more ranches in Ontario there are not two score silver foxes. The stock kept are bastard and cross foxes that produce litters with a proportion of silver pups. As their experience in selling fur has not led them to believe the present high prices for breeders in the Maritime Provinces are warranted by the pelt value of the animals, the attitude of Ontario ranchers has, in general, been to sell out at the high prices offered.

Because of continued importations of foreign stock into Prince Edward Island, probably thirty or forty per cent. of the silver foxes have been crossed with outside stock. In the majority of cases, the fur value has been lessened though, possibly, the crosses in some cases result in an improvement in size, fecundity, or other valuable quality.

The appearance of many of the imported foxes examined would seem to warrant the conclusion that they are usually of a much lower fur value, especially those from Newfoundland (sub-species V. deletrix), whose pelts almost uniformly have a rusty-black appearance and are coarse and `flaky.' The Quebec and Labrador foxes (sub-species V. bangsi) are much superior to those from Newfoundland. The Ontario foxes (sub-species V. fulvus) are secured from so many distant points that it is impossible to make a positive statement respecting their quality. Some of them appear to be first class and will prove to be excellent foundation stock for selective breeding for fur.

Fur experts who have given special study to the fauna of Canada say that the red and silver foxes found on the Athabaska river and in the Yukon and Alaska are often of great value. These regions should produce a weighty pelt and, if good quality were secured in foundation stock, conditions for fox ranching should be ideal—especially if venison and fish could be easily secured for food.


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