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82   COMMISSION OF CONSERVATION

and the Northwest, but the skins of these are less valuable than those of the smaller and darker animals of the Northeast. The highest quotations are always for skins from Canada and the Eastern United States.

"The Fur Trade Review for December, 1908, and January, 1909, quotes No. 1 otter skins as follows:

Canada and eastern    $18 to $20

Northwestern and Pacific coast    $12 to $14

Western and southwestern    $10 to $12

Western Pennsylvania and West Virginia   $10 to $12

"Otter fur in the north is at its best in December, but keeps in prime condition until March. In the southern states it probably does not reach its best condition before January.

"The prime requisite for success in raising any fur-bearing

General   animals is a thorough knowledge of their habits, especially Habits

breeding and food habits. The following notes are offered as

suggestions in conducting experiments with otters:

"Otters are semi-aquatic, are powerful and rapid swimmers, able to stay under water for a considerable time in pursuit of prey or in escaping from enemies, but they are also well adapted to dry land. They make long journeys overland from one stream to another and especially de-light in travelling over soft snow, on which they run and slide on their silky bellies with apparent enjoyment. On freshly fallen or wet snow they often prefer this method of travelling and will follow the banks of a stream for miles; but the greater part of their travelling is in the water where most of their food is procured. The long flattened tail is a powerful propeller and the large webbed hind feet give additional paddle surface for easy and rapid progress through the water. While on dry land, their motions are comparatively slow and awkward; in the water, they are rapid, lithe and seal-like, almost as easy and graceful and even more rapid than those of many fish. Fish are pursued and caught, apparently in fair chase and with great ease, though it is perhaps not safe to say that all kinds are an easy prey. Otters seem to be about equally active night or day, but most so in the morning and evening hours.

" Live fish, caught in the water and eaten on the banks or on

Food   the ice seem to be the favourite food for otters, though it is Habits

doubtful if they are more extensively eaten than crayfish.

Otter sign is more often composed largely of fish scales and bones and crustacean shells than of any other food remains; but frogs, water fowl,


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