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FUR-FARMING IN CANADA   69

"Females were immune from killing during the first six Summary years; since then approximately an equal number of males

and females have been released for breeding purposes, and the remainder killed, regardless of sex. It was thought, in the first in-stance, that, by saving all females and a small number of males, poly-gamy would become general among the foxes as is the case with domestic animals. Results not meeting with expectations, the scheme of leaving a number of pairs and saving them for breeders was adopted.

"Evidence of promiscuous sexual intercourse among the foxes is confined to a very few cases, none of which appear in the printed re-ports of the agents of the Department of Commerce and Labor. Only one case has come under my observation. The different method of branding males and females is reported by Mr. Chichester as showing that pairs of foxes often seen playing together in the spring are not always male and female. He also observed a female fox bring up a litter of young alone and unaided. Later on, however, the same gentleman found the first authentic case of paired foxes jointly engaged in feeding and guarding the same litter of young.

"It is possible that some of the females do not mate or become impregnated, and there is evidence that others abort; so, on the whole, it would seem wise to leave a surplus of healthy vigorous females, in-stead of adhering rigidly to the rules now in vogue.

" At present the business is carried on under a contract, by which the North American Commercial Co. gets all the skins taken, compensates the natives for their labour, and furnishes a certain amount of fox food; but the feeding, trapping and entire conduct of fox affairs is in the hands of the government agents.

"While the regular annual catch of fox skins on St. George island since the present methods were adopted is less than half what it was from 1870 to 1890, as herein shown, it is evident that the herd, and with it the annual catch of skins, can be indefinitely increased. The fact that on St .Paul island, where nothing was done to perpetuate fox life, the species is about extinct, justifies the opinion that the measures taken on St. George island hate preserved the foxes thereon. Summing it up, it may be stated that the preservation and increase of the foxes on St. George island depend, primarily, upon the bountiful feeding of proper food for about eight months every year; and, secondarily, upon the careful and methodical selection of the animals reserved for breeding purposes."


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