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64   COMMISSION OF CONSERVATION

balance suspended from the ceiling of the room. When the animal becomes quiet the weight is ascertained and entered.

"If the beast is to be left as a breeder, a ring one inch wide is cut in the fur of the tail with a pair of scissors after which it is dropped into a hopper and finds itself out of doors. Males are branded near the end of the tail, females near the rump. About four-fifths of those dismissed as breeders are caught the second time, and some of them are re-caught ten times or more in the course of the season. Recently, Mr. Chichester installed several automatic traps, auxiliary to the regular traps, which have done good work.

"When the animal is to be killed, the man who has it in hand bends the head backwards until the neck is broken. The dead animal is then thrown into the adjoining room, where other men remove the pelt. This is done by running a sharp knife up the inside of the legs, and down the length of the tail, and drawing the pelt off, leaving the fur side in. After the breeding quota is secured, all unbranded foxes entering the trap are killed. All trapping is done at night with light from lanterns. The next day the skins are cleansed and stretched on frames to dry. Later on they are whipped and combed, and, the following summer, barrelled and shipped to London.

"The skins are prime from November 15 to January 15, approximately. About the latter date the fur begins changing colour, and the skin shows signs of `staginess.'

"As indicated, the animals' ages are ascertained by dental examination. In this work no pretense to absolute accuracy is made. Dental examination of a hundred or more dead foxes of both sexes showed a division of the animals into three classes, which classification has since been followed in making the annual census. These are first, yearling or approximately one year old; second, middle-aged or approximately two years or three years old; third, over three years old. The young and the advanced in life are easily distinguished, but the intervening ages are more difficult to determine. It is doubtful if the life of St. George foxes ordinarily exceeds five years.

"On examination of 334 stomachs, seal meat formed the

Contents of   entire contents of 64, and the partial contents of 100 others.

Stomachs This meat of course was gotten in traps, and was what the animals came for. The contents of 17 full stomachs varied in weight between 14 and 20 ounces. These animals were still feeding when trapped and how much more they would have eaten if unmolested, can-not be determined. The stomach, when empty, weighs from 1i to 2 ounces, but its capacity of distention for the reception of food is aston-


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