Previous Fur Farming in Canada (1913) Next

 

60   COMMISSION OF CONSERVATION

following article on "The Blue Foxes of the Pribilof Islands," by James Judge:

 

THE BLUE FOXES OF THE PRIBILOF ISLANDS

"The Pribilof islands have many natural advantages as a home for foxes. The innumerable caves and subterranean passages afford the best protection possible against the elements or natural enemies, while the bird, seal, and sea-lion life, with what may be picked up on the beach, have in the past afforded a supply of food rarely found else-where. At the present time foxes are about extinct on St. Paul and Otter islands and have been preserved on St. George only through a system of artificial feeding adopted several years ago. This paper deals with St. George foxes only.

"In former times the annual quota of seals killed on St. Former George island varied between 20,000 and 25,000. Hun-Food Supply dreds of sea-lions also were killed annually. With the

exception of what the natives took for food, these vast quantities of meat were left on the ground where the animals were killed, and during the long period from September to May, these seal and sea-lion fields furnished the foxes with food, when other and more palatable food was not obtainable. Frequently dead whales, walruses, sea-lions, or fish were washed ashore and, when this occurred, the killing fields were abandoned by the foxes, and only resorted to again when this temporary food supply was exhausted. These were practically the conditions under which the St. George foxes lived from the time of Russian occupancy of the island down to 1890. During this long interval, no attention was paid to the animals, except that trapping was indulged in by the native residents, from one to two months each winter when the skins were prime.

"During the summer of 1896 I had the natives salt 500 Present seal carcasses, the meat being preserved in an old silo Food Supply formerly used by the sealing company. During the fol-

lowing winter, these carcasses were taken out, a few at a time, freshened, and thrown out for fox food. The rapidity with which the foxes learned that food would be set out daily at a certain place and time, and the numbers in which they came for it, surprised everyone on the island. They not only ate the meat but nearly all the bones as well. For an hour before feeding time they could be seen coming from all directions to participate in the feast. While waiting, they prowled around the village picking up everything of an edible nature and many things not edible. They came in greatest numbers when the weather was clear and cold.


Previous Fur Farming in Canada (1913) Next