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40   COMMISSION OF CONSERVATION

New Brunswick and Quebec, laws have been passed making it an offence punishable by a heavy fine to approach near a fur ranch.*

The keeper should move cautiously and quietly about the pens when feeding. He should have a post of observation from which he can see the pens and yet not be seen. A dark chamber with a hidden approach and a small window to look through may serve. From this post an experienced breeder can ascertain when mating occurs. At the earliest, whelping will take place fifty days after mating, though it may be fifty-two days, or, in rare instances, fifty-three or fifty-four days, especially with the first litter. Fifty-one days is the usual period of gestation.

If the keeper plans to remove the male, he should have the

Removing   pens built in such a manner that the male may be shut out

the Male (away from the female, though with only a fence or double wired fence inter'ening) without a suspicion on the part of the foxes of design in such a removal. The action of some breeders in entering the pen and catching the dog with tongs or catching box is universally condemned as very dangerous at this period. If the male is kept close by, he will watch and warn whenever he fears danger and, moreover, he takes an interest in the rearing of the young—frequently carrying his food along the fence, apparently with the intention of giving it to the female and the young.

It is not usual for parent foxes to kill the young

Calming   intentionally, but, when they become nervous, they
Excited Mothers

want to remove the pups to another place. A mother

will frequently become greatly excited and, dashing into her nest, will carry out the pups one by one and bury them in the snow or mud. This frequently occurs and is the great fear of ranchers in the spring months. It is difficult to tell what to do in such an emergency, except to see that the foregoing preventive measures are taken. The measures suggested in the following paragraph have been successfully carried out in more than one instance.

A crate of chickens or rabbits should be kept near at hand so that if a mother carries her young about, a live chicken or rabbit may be put into the pen to attract her attention and turn her from her impulse of hiding the young elsewhere. One breeder says that he stopped one mother with an egg which he threw in front of her from outside the fence when she was carrying out her pups.

Some ranchers, during the whelping season, always keep posted regarding the whereabouts of at least one cat with young kittens. If the *See Appendix V.


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