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90   COMMISSION OF CONSERVATION

It is said that the best salt marshes will furnish 50 rats a year per acre. They may be fenced with 1---inch mesh wire, 5 feet wide, by burying it a foot on dry land and deeper near water area. Not more than 50 rat houses, or pairs, should be kept on an acre. It is necessary to have an area of water which does not freeze to the bottom. This, in many cases, could be secured by dredging and the mud thrown up would be used by the rats for making homes. Wild rice, water lilies, cat-tails, and various roots, are their natural food. Carrots, beets, turnips, apples, pumpkins and other cheap vegetables and fruits may be grown in nearby fields for summer food, or stored in pits for winter. A small quantity of meat may also be fed.

The muskrat probably has only two litters a yeas in the colder parts of Canada, but farther south, three litters are born, and the first litters bear young in the autumn. The first are born about the middle of May and each. litter numbers from four to nine, although as many as twelve have been reported.

 

BEAVER
(Castor Canadensis)

The beaver formerly existed over nearly all the continent of North America. It was also found in Europe and the greater part of Asia and Northern Africa, but, in most of these, became extinct centuries ago. There are only a few colonies in Europe at the present time and these are preserved carefully by government authorities. It is rapidly becoming extinct in America. The homes of the greatest numbers, at the pre-sent time, are in the country between the Great lakes and the St. Lawrence river northward to Hudson bay, and in northern British Columbia.

No animal did more than the beaver to effect the colonization of America. It lured men into the most remote wildernesses, furnished him food and clothing, and was one of the chief articles of commerce with Europe. So universal an article of trade did it become that, in northern Canada, beaver skin became the unit of currency.

Brass estimates the world's production as follows: America, 80,000 skins; Asia, 1,000; Europe, a few. Besides the skins, the castorum, or dry beaver castor, is traded in, bringing from $12 to $15 a pound at the present time.

Because of its interesting habits, every schoolboy is well Uses of acquainted with most phases of the life of the beaver. Its the Beaver flesh, skins and castors are valuable, the latter being used as a base in perfume manufacture. The flesh is excellent and the tail is considered a delicacy. The skin was formerly used in the manu-


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