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50   COMMISSION OF CONSERVATION

It can thus be readily understood how highly speculative fox trading is at the present time. The tendency towards inflation is encouraged and fostered by many of the older breeders. Their optimism is accounted for by the fact that they have become wealthy in the last three years, whereas six or eight years ago, some of them possessed only mortgaged farms and a few foxes. All but three or four have made their fortunes by selling breeding stock and, with the exception of, possibly, $200,000, obtained for pelts, all of the million or more dollars received by ranchers has been made in this way.

The present system of buying for future delivery is another Futures   indication of the optimism of investors. In December, 1912,

many of the unborn pups of 1913 were purchased and partly paid for, delivery to be made in the first week of September, 1913. The difference between purchasing futures in foxes and gambling in futures in May wheat of October cotton is more apparent than real.

 

 

Naturally, the rapid rise of such an industry has unsettled

Craze for   the peaceful rural conditions in a country like Prince Ed-
Ownership

ward Island. Farmers are using the credit of their farms

to purchase shares in silver foxes, or to buy outright cross foxes, red foxes, blue foxes, minks and any other fur-bearer likely to prove profit-able. The banks report a serious withdrawal of deposits and realization upon outside investments, while the lawyers of the little town of Summerside, P.E.I., are reported to have recorded about $300,000 in farm mortgages in 1912. A goodly share of the savings banks deposits made by these prosperous islanders has also been withdrawn.

Remarking on the great craze for shares of stock in fox ranches and for fox ownership, Wesley Frost, the United States consul at Charlottetown, wrote to his government in December, 1912:

 

 

"In adjudging the soundness of the present position of the fox industry on Prince Edward Island it should be borne in mind that the community is an intensely conservative one, composed of Scottish and English farmers, intelligent and fairly educated, and with a per capita savings deposit figure to compare with almost any portion of the civilized world    

"It is true that a large number of the foremost citizens of the Island refuse to participate in the fox boom to any degree whatsoever. Every large sale by one of the big ranches is hailed as an effort to unload before the tide turns. Investment at the present time is regarded as an attractive speculation—but with the speculative element too conspicuous. Granting nearly all that the fox men say, the sceptics fear that, in the readjustments involved in


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