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84   COMMISSION OF CONSERVATION

" Whetherfemales breed when a year old remains to be tested, but it seems probable that they do.

"The fact that otters do not breed in zoological parks, where kept on exhibition and under constant excitement and nervous strain, is not surprising and probably does not mean that under more normal conditions they would fail to reproduce at their usual rate.

"A large spring or section of a small stream, preferably in

Suitable   the woods, should be selected for an otter yard. A pool at

Location least six feet deep and 20 or 30 feet across should be formed. Steep banks down which the otter can slide into the water are an advantage in furnishing exercise as are also a few old logs reaching into the water. If the banks are firm and stony the otter will be less inclined to burrow, and clear, cold, running water tends to keep them in good health. A series of yards along a suitable stream could be separated economically into family enclosures with inexpensive partition fences. A yard 50 feet square is ample for a family of otters if plenty of food is provided.

" Small houses, hollow logs, shallow caves or artificial burrows should be provided for sleeping quarters where a cool, dark retreat can be had at any time.

"Otter yards should be inclosed with a fence four feet high, Fencing   made of heavy woven wire of one-inch mesh and with a 16-

inch curved tin overhang on the inside. The fence should be carried on iron uprights four feet apart, curved in at the top for the tin overhang. These u on uprights should be set in a stone or concrete wall, laid one foot deep in the ground and carried am oss the stream as dams above and below the otter pool. In place of the wall an additional foot of the woven wire can be bedded in the ground, but this will have to be renewed every few years as it rusts out. In the National Zoological Park a welded wire fence with rectangular mesh one inch wide and four inches high, of No. 11 wire is used. This is not easily climbed and is very strong and secure. The iron uprights are double straps one inch wide by i inch thick, one on each side of the netting and riveted together.

"Otters do not dig extensively and are not inclined to burrow under a fence. They do not usually climb trees, but can climb up a rough barked or leaning tree to above the top of a fence.

" It seems highly probable that, under favourable conditions

Conclusions      otter can be raised for fur at a profit, and that, in course
of time, a breed can be established combining in the same

animals quiet and domestic dispositions with fur of great beauty and


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