Previous Fur Farming in Canada (1913) Next

 

62   COMMISSION OF CONSERVATION

"While the animals eat a great deal of grass and other land and marine vegetation, it is evident that they cannot long survive on a diet that does not include animal food.

"The year 1890 may be considered the turning point in

Modern   fox life on the Pribilof islands, which, of course, include Conditions

St. George. At that time, or soon after, a scarcity of foxes

was everywhere apparent, and the government agents in charge, wrongly attributing the diminution to over-trapping, forbade all trap-ping for three different winters in the early nineties, with the result that the total catch for the seven years ending with 1897 was only 2,198. The real trouble was a shortage of substantial food, such as the foxes had always been accustomed to, but this was not then under-stood, or at least no steps were taken to supply the deficiency.

"The slaughter of seals upon the ocean by pelagic hunters rad so decimated the seal herd, that in 1890 only 6,139 were secured on St. George island, instead of the regular quota of 25,000. In 1891, 1892 and 1893, owing to the modus vivendi, the number of seals killed on this island was further reduced to 2,500. The sea-lion herd of the island had likewise been greatly depleted, so that but few of those animals were killed, and consequently there was little or none of that meat for the foxes.

"With the departure of the birds in the fall, the foxes as usual scoured the beach for food and that source proving insufficient, recourse to the seal fields, where formerly they were sure of something when driven to extremities, proved unavailing. The limited amount of seal meat was soon cleaned up. After that, there was nothing for them but starvation, and those that succumbed were quickly devoured by the survivors.

 

 

"Coincident with the regular feeding of foxes, the experi-

Modern   ment of catching them in small box traps was made. This Trapping

was successful from the beginning, as the foxes did not

hesitate to enter for the bait, and sometimes two would get in befoee the trap was sprung, although it was intended only for one. The foxes came in such numbers that at least 50 box traps would be needed to accommodate them. This suggested the erection of a house trap, and accordingly a rough corral or house trap 8 by 14 feet was constructed beside the coal house. Three or four seal carcasses were placed in the trap for bait. The foxes entered with little hesitation and soon 40 or more would be inside. The man operating the trap stood inside the coal house, and by pulling a rope, caused the door to drop, and the foxes were prisoners. Subsequently a wire-mesh trap or cage 14 by 10 by 8 feet was procured and placed at one end of a house especially


Previous Fur Farming in Canada (1913) Next