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SCIENCE JOTTINGS. Li_- /I C -I I ‘XIIN, , i ] It Il1. WVARI’.


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I”ll I L lo”ige’ 1i:FI)(r’ I oI t’ ryiIrlmt n, i I L’ V itll t t Lhe igh lt g n1 e, 1 Vill fLind 11iC inmpnsible t, return to tlh dull roltine and close nfminmen


SHOWING THE COMPARATIVELY SHORT TAIL: A SIDE-VIEW OF A BLUE FOX CUB.


aImnLalelC to colilltiflceflnl t and yieldhing the most Illarket aible fur, are the ” blu” and ” silver ”


loxes, otter. marten, beaver, and mink. Where but a limited alllunlt of capital is available, ionly one or tiswo of these tpecies could be farmed ; but, if several imen comllbined to founlld settlements, there are thiousandltis of miles of forest, marsh, and stream lit for no other purpose than to serve as bIeaver-farmns, for beavers call be fenced in as readily as a flock of sheep. Bult within the area enclosed for this pur- pose all the other suitable species just enu- merated coull be raisedl, thus ensuring success; wlule a limited sale of timber would further add to the success of the venture. Thllose who muist content them- se ls with a less ambitious scheme may embark with tolerable contidence on the raising of foxes and mink, and we would also suggest ferrets and ” Persian lamb.” Of the more valuable furs, the silver fox and the blue fox afford the best prospect of securing a reasonable return on the capital invested. But the- initial cost of a stud of silver foxes is considerable, hence the blue fox would have to content those with no more than a slender capital


to begin with. The blue fox is an extremely interesting animal, since it is not, as some suppose, a distinct species, but merely a ” colour-phase ‘ of


VAI H IVER31TYLTFE IN THEL SIXTEENTH CENTURY: A DOOCTOR RE. EIVIH6 THE ·uHS V’F IIIS DE6iRee


the Arctic fox (I upes alopcx). Normally brown inl summll ler alll white in winter, some individuals throughout the year are dark-coloul-ed–of a dark bIrow’n durin g the summei, and of a slate oir French- grey during the winter, when the typical Arctic fox is pure white This difference in coloration


SHOWING THE RELATIVELY SHORT EARS AND MUZZLE: A BLUE FOX CUB. The relathvely short ears and muzzle are characteristic of the Arctic fox as compared with the very distinct common fox. Four Copyrrght Phctographs by M. Har’dad.


is not to be attributed to climatic conditions, since both blue and white foxes may occur in th9 same litter, and blue and white foxes have been` ound mated together. In Iceland, apparently, only the blue variety occurs, and the blue variety seems to be the dominant form in Siberia. The accompany- ing photographs, taken by Miss Maud Haviland during her stay at Golchika on the Yenesei during 1914, give an excellent idea of the appearance of the cubs of this animal amid their natural surround- ings. The skins of wild-killed animmals fetch, on the spot, as much as moo roubles (£o), whereas those of the typical white form lealise no more than 30 roubles (ý3) In the Pribilof Islands these animals are farmed under ideal conditions, for, being insulated, no


USED ON THE YENESEI: A TRAP FOR CATCHING BLUE FOXES. This trap is formed of a beam to held in position over a trough that when the bait, a piece of fish, is touched the beam falls and kills the victim. The troughlike formation of the trap prevents damage to the skin by the fall of the beam.


tenclig is needed, and much of their food they ob- tain from the seal-meat left by the sealers. This is supplemented during the winter months by supplies


Sp M. “‘h.NSC liJiCll k·j’l CLNT:Jto)


of meat and fish, salted for this pur- pose during the summer, though before being given to the animals the salt is re- moved by soaking ‘in fresh water. Here all white foxes are rigorously slaughtered as being of relatively small commercial value. Nevertheless, there is a good market for such skins. In Canada blue foxes are bred under entirely artificial conditions, since they are kept in small pens erected in an area thickly planted with trees. The silver fox is now reared in some numbers in Alaska, by crossing the red and black geographical races, or sub species, of the common North American red fox. The foundation of a breeding stock is, whenever possible, based upon the red fox of Prince Edward Island (Vulpes rubricosa) crossed with one of the dark races, such as Vulpes abietorum of the North-West Territories and British Columbia. The smallest pens used by the best ranchers enclose


IN ITS NATURAL SURROUNDINGS A BLUE FOX CUB.


an area of at least 900 square feet. but the usual size of a pen has an area of, say, 25 feet by


50 feet, wire netting forming the boundaries. In the autumn of 1912 at least 50,000 dollars was required to build, equip, and stock a ranch in Prince Edward Island with five pairs of first-class stock. Yet large fortunes have been made by the sale alone of breeding stock, as may be gathered from the fact that a pair was sold in 1912 for 20,000 dollars. The range of prices obtained for skins of these animals thus bred is considerable, the lowest-priced skins starting at 50 dollars, the highest at 4000 dollars. Where it is possible to devote a large estate to the production of furs a number of different animals could be kept; but in any case this form of farming must be carried on only in northern latitudes with at least a moderately severe winter to produce the necessary quality of fur. Beaver, otter, fox, and mink, for example, could well be bred on the same estate. But those who propose to venture into this field must be prepared to conduct their operations on strictly scientific lines, and with the most careful regard to the


habits of the animals in a wild state. Unless the yoke of captivity be made to rest lightly, failure must inevitably follow. W. P. PYcRAFr.



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Issue 4018. - Vol CXLVIII

Apr, 22 1916

Illustrated London News