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FUR-FARMING IN CANADA   91

facture of beaver hats, but, later, this use declined owing to the advent of the silk hat. At the present time, the fur is mostly plucked in dressing and sold for use in coats, stoles and muffs. The largest and finest skins are not worth more than $15 to $20, large No. 1 skins being quoted at $12.

 

 

The beaver cannot be farmed because of the wide extent of territory required to furnish food and also because it usually makes trouble for all neighbours in the same water area, whose lands have aspen, poplar, willow or other trees that furnish food. The only possible method is to enclose a large tract for both the forest and beavers that could be produced on it. Patrolling would be necessary and a certain number of heaver would have to be taken each year to maintain the proper supply. Possibly the range of the animals might be limited by fencing across the valleys. Trappers have said that the beaver will eat cultivated crops (e.g., turnips), but no proof of this statement could be found. If it eats such crops, ranching the beaver is feasible.

The logical method to perpetuate the beaver is to create

National   national game preserves under constant patrol. This Game Preserves

plan has proved successful in the Algonquin National

Park, Ontario, where a considerable revenue is now derived from the sale of their skins. A system of national parks where the beaver and musk-rat would be efficiently protected and where other wild life would be propagated as well as protected is advisable. Protective laws, particular ly in the case of the beaver, do not protect. Dui ing the yeas s when the beaver was contraband in Ontario and Quebec, bales of funs frequently contained a number of beaver skins. The bale was sold as it was packed, or another customer was sought. Thus, many Montreal furl iers testified that they purchased beaver skins continually and could not avoid it, if they wished to continue to buy raw pelts.

 

 

For the information of those who desire to keep a few pairs of these interesting animals, it may be stated that when two years old, the beaver mates for life, mating taking place in February. The period of gestation is about three months. The litter usually consists of two or three, but may be larger. The young are weaned before they are two months old and taught to eat tender shoots of the raspberry and other plants. They accompany their mother the whole season. Foundation stock may be obtained from the Department of Lands, Forests and Mines, Toronto, Ont., at about $50 a pair. Success is easily achieved where water and the proper food are available.


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