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126   COMMISSION OF CONSERVATION

raising wild animals for fur, and these have usually ceased while the animals were still wild. The fur crop has been expected at once and has usually been the sole object of the experiment    

PROMISING SPECIES

 

In spite of numerous failures there is no reason to doubt the en-tire practicability of successfully breeding in captivity almost any species of fur-bearing mammal. In most cases it will take consider-able time to bring about the complete domestication and adaptation desirable; but the object is of ample importance to warrant the necessary expenditure of time and money. It is not necessary nor advisable to start on a large scale, as the requirements of each species must be studied and worked out slowly.

In selecting species for breeding purposes the first important consideration should be to secure a permanently valuable fur. The fancy prices paid for sea otter and black and silver foxes, reaching $1,000 and even $2,000 for some choice skins, are based in part on the rarity of these animals, and would not be maintained if a large supply be-came available. Still these skins will doubtless always be among the most valuable. Owing to their pelagic habits, however, the sea otter and fur seal need not be considered in the present connection.

The fur of each species varies greatly in colour, quality, and value in different parts of its range. The choicest natural strains should, if possible, be selected to start with; but these can doubtless be bred into later if a domestic breed be established.

The North American species promising most valuable results in fur culture are as follows, in sequence of greater permanent fur value: (1) black and silver foxes; (2) blue or arctic fox; (3) otter; (4) marten, or American sable; (5) beaver; (6) mink; (7) fisher. Cheaper kinds of fur, such as skunk, muskrat, raccoon and opossum, may under special conditions yield paying returns, but need not be considered at present. Many exotic mammals are worthy of consideration, but in general they do not offer any advantages over our native species and have the disadvantage of not being acclimated.

 

 

BLACK AND SILVER FOXES

 

The black and the silver foxes are merely melanistic and partially melanistic individuals of the red fox. Both owe their value in part to7their rarity; but it will be long before artificial production will seriously affect the price. In habits and requirements they are iden-


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