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FUR FARMING IN CANADA   99

wholly on one side of the board and the ventral on the other side. All skins except fox are marketed fur side inwards, fox being turned fur out after one day's drying, when the front legs are still pliable. Skins should be dried without artificial heat. A cool ,dry place away from the sun's rays is best. Beaver skins are stretched within an elliptical hoop made of saplings. They are tied to the hoop with twine laced into the skin at intervals of two inches. Bear skins are usually laced similarly into a rectangular frame made from small sticks. Raccoon are nailed on a wall or board and stretched into a rectangular shape. The best nails are brass tacks or wire nails and they should be driven not more than two inches apart.

Otter tails are always split and stretched by nailing to the stretching board.

Boards should be made of soft wood, like white pine, which Stretching permits easy driving and withdrawal of nails. For smaller Boards animals, the stretching board should be about three-eighths of an inch thick, and for the larger—otter and fox—about five-eighths or three-quarters of an inch. It should be nicely rounded on the edges. Wedges are sometimes inserted down the sides of the board with advantage. They permit the circulation of air on the inside. A steel wire has served well in stretching muskrat on many occasions.

The best stretched skins are those that are extended very slightly in all directions. Mink and marten should be pulled slightly lengthwise and the lines of the sides should be only slightly converging. A stretching board may be split and a wedge inserted between the two sides will adjust it to any size of skin.

Valuable pelts are sewed up in muslin and expressed to

Marketing destination. When shipped by express care should be skins

taken to have the agent mark the full value of the skins on

the receipt to ensure recovery of value if lost. When packing skins do not roll them; pack flat and then sew them up neatly in burlap. They should be wrapped in paper first. Label the package inside and out-side to make identification certain. Skins must be packed dry and must be kept dry.

If all the pelts taken in Canada were prime and were properly stretched, dried and marketed, the increase in value would amount to millions. Nearly fifty per cent. of the pelts of some species ate blue, or springy or with hair rubbed off or falling out. The competition between trappers is producing more and more blue pelts, which cannot grade above No. 2. Conservation of fur would be achieved if it were illegal to kill except when thelpelts are prime. It is probable, how-


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