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58   COMMISSION OF CONSERVATION

Maj. Gen. A. W. Greely, in his Handbook of Alaska, published in 1909, writes:

"Unwise exploitation has very greatly reduced the fur-Additional bearing productivity of the land animals of the Aleutian Details islands, as well as of the interior of Alaska. With the early extermination of foxes in prospect, there was organized about 1894 the Semidi Propagation Company, to domesticate and raise foxes on uninhabited islands. The original fox farm was stocked from the Pribilof group and was situated on North Semidi island, whence the industry has extended to thirty or more islands to the eastward, far the greater number being situated in Prince William sound, though there are seven in the Kadiak group. Most of the islands are occupied under lease from the United States, and the law excepts from homesteading the fox islets. The companies and several individuals have followed this industry, which has been only moderately successful from the financial standpoint. Considerable investment is necessary, it takes at least four years before any rel,enue is obtained, the life is most isolated, and skins are not eery productive, usually varying in value from $10 to $20, according to quality and demand. In some instances natives have become fox breeders and, where private parties are so engaged, they have supplemented their fox breeding by fishing, farming, or lumbering.

"The largest fox farm is at Long Island, near Kadiak, where there are nearly 1,000 blue foxes. The largest number of skins comes, however, from the Pribilof group, where about 700 foxes are annually taken by the natives, supplementary to the fur-seal catch. These foxes are not domesticated.

"The very valuable silver-gray fox is too thoroughly savage to accept conditions necessary for profitable fox breeding and, in consequence, fox farming is confined almost entirely to the blue fox. The fox is monogamous, and an average of four foxes come to maturity from each litter. It is necessary to feed the foxes the greater part of the year, and careful supervision is essential to their successful raising.

"The blue fox thrives wild on the extreme easterly isle of Attu, and from that point several of the Shumagin islands, Chernabura, Simeonof, etc., have been stocked with moderate success. The ex-tension and development of this industry is desirable as one of the much needed means to enable the Aleuts the successfully to meet changed conditions of Alaskan life."


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