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respects. His highly developed ranch, at Carbondale, Colorado, under the shadow of Mount Sopris, is the scene of many interesting experiments, carried out by this man who is intensely interested in the problems that confront the American farmer. In the course of his potato experiments he has succeeded in developing potatoes that are of uniform size, consequently being ideal for baking purposes, and that have thin skins and shallow eyes—points that any housekeeper will appreciate. These potatoes will yield heavily under scientific cultivation. Mr. Grubb has made no secret of his methods, but has carried on an evangelical work in many Western states. Several railroads have engaged him to instruct settlers along their lines in the art of potato growing—for that it is an art
anyone will admit after seeing the results achieved by this Colorado Burbank. A New York railroad recently engaged him to carry on the work of restoring the abandoned farms along its line. Always Mr. Grubb has given his services and the results of his investigations in a most unselfish spirit, though he could have made himself wealthy by keeping his potato knowledge to himself and supplying the demand that naturally arose for his products.
Mr. Grubb's commission to inquire into potato conditions abroad is considered one of the most important steps taken by the Department of Agriculture in recent years, and the final report of the "potato ambassador" will affect every potato raiser and consumer in the country.
A FUR TRADER COMING INTO PRINCE ALBERT.
A CONTINENTAL FUR FARM
AGNES C. LAUT
snowy latitudes the world over. Is it true? When 1 was a child in the Canadian Northwest, you could buy a buffalo coat for $25 or a beaver from $70 to $100. You cannot buy a buffalo coat today at any price; and during the closed season established for beaver by the Canadian Government these past seven years, it has been almost as impossible to buy a beaver. I remember one summer in the Rockies years ago pricing mink skins from the Stoney Indians. I could have bought them at 80 and 90 cents apiece. Those skins today would cost from $10 to $15 each. I could have bought the most perfectly marked ermine from 4 to 10 cents a skin. Today those skins would cost from 40c to $1. I
have in my work room as I write a lynx skin robe larger than the ordinary floor rug, for which I paid less than $30. Fur traders today tell me that lynx skin would bring its weight in gold—which is not so costly as it sounds; for lynx is the lightest of furs.
Does all this prove that we have reached the permanent world shortage of furs?
One does not need to prove the extinction of the buffalo. Buffalo, which roamed the prairies between the Missouri and the Saskatchewan so numerous that literally bridges of the dead spanned the rivers in spring where the vast herds
crashed through the ice or over a cliff into an Indian pond—today exist only in half a dozen private and public parks. I have visited all of these parks in the last three years. I do not think the total number of buffalo from Missouri to Saskatchewan today exceeds 1,000. The largest herd I know does not exceed 400.
The case is almost as bad regarding fur seal. But a few years ago the population of the seal islands was five millions, and the yearly catch 150,000. Last fall, the greatest authority on seal fisheries in America today told me he did not believe there were more than 30,000 seals alive in the whole world ; and not a seal would survive the next five years unless pelagic sealing ceased—the indiscriminate shooting outside the pelagic zone by Japanese, Canadian and Russian poachers of male and female and young swimming to the rookeries. The death of each female in spring costs besides the mother's life, the unborn pup's and the young seals' ashore which die of starvation when the mother's care is removed. Still a worse feature of this pelagic sealing occurs during fog. When the fog falls over Bering Sea thick as wool, the poachers venture in ashore to the rookeries. So great is the haste of their bloody work to escape before the fog lifts, that the raiders often skin the seals alive, not stopping to see that the blow of the gaff club has caused death.
As for sea otter, it has come so near extinction that it may almost be written down as one of the furs no longer obtainable. Four years ago when I made enquiries on the Pacific Coast as to the take of sea otter, I put down the decrease from 150,000 a year in a century to 400 a year; and those figures have been diligently copied ever since. They are no longer correct. The annual take is now nearer 200 than 400. Of the fur, itself, little need be said except that the pelt is the largest of the sea furs and finer in texture and depth than either seal or silver fox.
Beaver is today practically extinct in the United States, or almost so. Ten years ago, it became so scarce in Canada that the Dominion Government established a closed season for a term of years. This closed season has now expired; and once more the trapper will wage war on the beautiful rodent of marsh and woods. If he is permitted to wage war with dynamite and on male and female and young indiscriminately, beaver will again become scarce to the point of almost extinction.
Does all this augur the extinction of fur trading, the oldest industry of man, the industry that lured explorers across America in search of the beaver; and Cossacks across Siberia in search of the sable; and Russians across the Pacific in search
of the sea otter? Have we reached the last chapter in fur?
Frankly and with the deepest respect for the prophets of evil, and from a life time in the Northwest, I do not think so. The oldest industry of mankind, the most heroic and protective against the element—against Fenris and Loki and all those Spirits of Evil with which Northern myth has personified Cold— fur hunting, fur trading, will last long as man lasts.
We are entering, not on the extermination of fur, but on a new cycle of smaller furs. In the days when mink went begging at eighty cents, mink was not fashionable. Mink is fashionable today; hence the absurd and fabulous prices of $900 and $1,000 for a lady's opera cloak. Long ago, when ermine as minevir—the garb of nobility—was fashionable and exclusive, it commanded fabulous prices. Radicalism abolished the exclusive garb of royalty; and ermine fell to four cents a pelt, advanced to twenty-five cents and recently has sold at one dollar. Today, mink is the fashion, and the little mink is pursued; but tomorrow fashion will veer with the caprices of the wind. Some other fur will come into favor; and the little mink will have a chance to multiply as the ermine has multiplied.
Be it noted here—buffalo were exterminated, not because of the pursuit of the fur—for the pelts rotted unsold in St. Louis warehouses in the 1830's and 40's or were used as leather—buffalo were exterminated because the buffalo pasture grounds were cut up into barbwire fenced farms by the transcontinental railways. ,
The seal and the sea otter have been reduced almost to extinction—not by the fur hunters; for the true fur hunter never destroys the female or the young —but by the poachers, by the fact that international law was involved and the nations of the United States, Canada, Japan and Russia could not sink their other hostilities long enough to come together and regulate fur hunting. The monopolist never destroys the source of his own prosperity. When competing monopolists come together on the same field, they destroy on the principle "if they don't, the other fellows will." Of this, I found a curious example when examining the documents of the Hudson's Bay Company in London five years ago. It was in the early 1820's. Peter Skene Ogden was scouring south of the Columbia with fur brigades of 200 men; Ross was leading his hunters on the Upper Missouri. The only section of the Hudson's Bay Company's field from California to the Arctic, where instructions were issued to clean out all beaver irrespective of age, size, sex, was south of
the Saskatchewan; "for if we don't" declared Ogden, "the Americans under General Ashley will." The same spirit was exemplified last year. It was before the Canadian Club of Ottawa, Canada. I had been pointing out the fact that the seal was being exterminated, not by the true fur hunter but by the poacher—the Japanese and Russian and Canadian raider, who swooped down on the unprotected rookeries, or shot the mother seal swimming in and out of the pelagic zone. A man, who had been secretary to one of the sealing commissioners, came up to me after the lecture. "You are wrong," he said, "you are wrong I tell you in blaming Canadians. If Americans hog the whole thing, then I say, let the Canadians go in and kill every blamed cub. I'd shoot every last seal in the sea rather than let them beat us and hog it all."
"Meanwhile," I answered, "what becomes of the seal?"
"I don't care," he said. "We'll show them."
This spirit of international jealousy— shall I call it hoggery?—and not the spirit of the true hunter, is what has brought the seal and the sea otter almost to extermination.
As for the beaver, he is not an Arctic animal. He is a denizen of the temperate marshes. What has become of his marshes? Read the Congressional rereclamation and draining. Where beaver dams once lapped to wind and reed west of Lake Michigan, stands the city of Chicago. Like the buffalo, the little beaver has witnessed his habitat cut up into cities and farms; but where city and farm can never go—north of the Saskatchewan, in Labrador, down MacKen zie River, on the marshes of the hinterland of Ontario—the little beaver still plies his furtive calling of damming sluggish streams and converting marshes into meadows.
In spite of the cry of the end of fur, more furs were marketed in the world last year than ever before in the