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86   COMMISSION OF CONSERVATION

after mating and while rearing the young. A wide range is necessary in order to permit of their securing a variety of natural food.

The methods used in skunk-raising are completely outlined in the following extracts from letters written to the Hunter-Trader-Trapper Magazine by Mr. Brae:

SKUNK-RAISING

"Skunk-raising is a failure if on a small scale, while on a large scale it would be a paying business, giving from 50 to 100 per cent. profit. I will give you my experience on a small scale. The first season I had 12 females and 3 males, all black; the average litter of young was from 3 to 6; the average grade, about 85 per cent. black, the balance being Nos. 2, 3 and 4.

"Naturally, skunks live in holes in the ground, rocks, trees, stumps, etc. Their food consists of mice, birds, bugs, crickets, grasshoppers, bees, wasps, yellow jackets, angle worms, seeds, berries, ground roots and bark. My pen was 14 feet by 36 feet, and 4 feet high with 2-inch mesh wire floor and 1-inch mesh wire top and covering. I had a number of boxes for harbours. My pen is secure against escape but entirely too small for the purpose intended.

"In the first place, I wish to discuss the disadvantages of starting on a small scale. Having a large number in a small place, will cause them to crowd and fight and kill one another, while to have a separate pen for each female is expensive. After the rutting season the female will kill the male, apparently to protect her young. Skunks are liable to a fatal disease, similar to sore throat or diphtheria. I have known females that had no young ones to take the young of other mothers to their boxes and fight the real mothers away until the kid-napped young starved to death. Others that had young would steal the young of two or three others and then, having more than they could care for, some would starve.

"Another disadvantage in a small enclosure is this, that they get so tame they come out in the daytime to feed and the exposure to sunlight fades the fur to a certain extent. As it is also almost impossible to supply a lot of skunks with the kind of food they get in the wild state, it becomes necessary to substitute some other kind of food, such as dead horses, cows, chickens, corn and various other things which a man with a small lot cannot always have. If not fed properly they become cannibalistic.

"Like every other business, skunk-raising requires capital; and with some one who has capital, together with the experience and practical knowledge, I venture to say there is 50 to 100 per cent. profit


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