Outdoor NebraskaJanuary 1927
OUTDOOR NEBRASKAOfficial Bulletin Nebraska Bureau Game and Fish Vol. II JANUARY, 1927 No. 1 CONTENTS Crow Butte, by G. H. Nichols Frontispiece Bureau of Game and Fish Makes Report 3 Mink Farming In Nebraska, by R. B. Hasselquist 4 Meet Uncle Sam's Game Warden 5 Editorial 6 The Case of the Prairie Chicken, by Frank B. O'Connell 7 What Nebraska Thinks of the Pheasant 8 Production and Conservation of the Fur Animals, by Frank G. G. Ashbrook 9 Department Activities 10
Do You Know
That the area of Nebraska is greater than that of the New England States.
That there are 427 species of birds, 100 species of mammals and 65 birds of native trees in Nebraska.
That many ducks, coots and shore birds breed and nest in Nebraska.
That each year more than 150,000 Nebraskans and 1,000 non-residents buy hunting, fishing and trapping licenses,
Crow Butte, near Crawford (Dawes Co.) where the Crow Indians found refuge from their Sioux enemies. Though surrounded and outnumbered all the Crows except an aged warrior escaped.
Bureau of Game and Fish Makes Report of Activities, for 1925-1926(Editor's note: The following is the biennial report of the Bureau of Game and Fish to the Governor. It covers all activities of the bureau during 1925 arid 1926. The fiscal year of expenditures runs from July 1, 1925, to June 30, 1927, therefore a complete financial report of expenditures cannot be made at this time. At the present writing it would appear that something like $275,000 will be spent during the two years. Whatever is left over from receipts of 1925-26 will probably be reappropriated by the Legislature so that such sum can be used during the coming two years.) ORGANIZATION
Under the present: organization of the Division of Game and Fish the following subdivisions have been made:Division of Office and Licenses Division, of Inspection and Control Division of Conservation and Distribution Division of Recreation Grounds Gretna Hatchery Valentine Hatchery Benkelman Hatchery. Rock Creek Hatchery OFFICE AND LICENSE DIVISION
The office and division of licenses is located at the State House, Lincoln Nebraska. This is the central office under the supervision of a Chief where the different activities are directed and all the various licenses sold and fees collected. Licenses are sold through county clerks, banks, hardware dealers, etc., and at the end of the present biennium there are approximately nine hundred accounts throughout the State.
During (the present biennium the fees collected and permits issued have been as follows:
In order to inform the State Seining Crew at Work sportsmen and other citizens of Nebraska, who are interested in the work of the Bureau, and to include greater appreciation of the wild life and natural beauty of Nebraska, a quarterly publication, known as " Outdoor Nebraska," was published during the last, half of the biennium.
Several- editions of game laws have been published together with minor publications dealing with the work of the Bureau.INSPECTION AND CONTROL
The Division of Inspection and Control consists of the enforcement of the Game and Fish laws, inspection of licenses, the control of fish and game and the studying and surveying of all conditions affecting fish and game. A large number of game wardens have been employed and an ardent effort has been made to strictly enforce all the laws protecting and controlling fish and game. The wardens have been equipped with cars and the State divided into districts so that there would be no overlapping of territory and duplicate effort.
During the winter months the force of wardens is reduced. Most of the men remaining on the force during the winter work at the northern lakes keeping them open so that fish will not smother.
A Field Superintendent is now employed. His duties are to supervise the wardens, check over their work and instruct them in their duties. He works directly under the Chief of the Bureau and spends his time in the field.(Continued on Page 13)
Mink Farming in NebraskaBy R. B. HASSELQUIST
NEBRASKA, which for unknown ages has been a native haunt for the mink hut which is taking its place with the vanishing native animals of the country, is visited with a new but undoubtedly permanent industry—that of successfully raising the mink in captivity.
Omaha Mink Ranch, situated near Omaha and operated by Dr. J. J. Warta and R. B. Hasselquist, is the first of its kind in Nebraska. It is devoted exclusively to the propogation of the mink and .principlly for producing select breeding animals.
The increasing demand for the durable and valued fur of the mink and ever diminishing supply of the animal from the wild is indeed alarming. The record of New York fur sales during the past year shows the record price of $40.00 for a single pelt.
Within the past few years it has been demonstrated to a certainty that the mink, with but little care, can be successfully raised in confinement.
(Upper) A pair of breeding stock. (Lower) Individual pens where pairs are housed.
The operators of Omaha Mink Ranch have spent a number of years experimenting with the animal and have successfully raised a considerable number. Within the past two years the Omaha ranch has taken the aspect of an -extensive fur farm and is now being operated with one hundred pens, each accommodating a pair of these interesting and profitable fur bearers.
Climatic conditions in Nebraska are ideal for ranching mink and splendid dark and well furred animals are produced. It is necessary of course to have select foundation stock, and with that requirement, Nebraska produces mink, with fur equal in splendor and durability to that of any locality.
The Omaha ranch has for its foundation stock, mink from Prince Edward Island, Quebec, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Nebraska, and other localities.
Mink are confined in wire pens containing thirty square feet of space, each pen accommodating a pair. Nest boxes are of wood construction, approximately sixteen inches square, weather proof and with a little hay for nesting furnishes the animal its permanent abode.
It is doubtful whether any fur bearing animal is better adopted to ranching than the mink. This probably is due to the facts that they are practically immune from disease and pests, they are active and secure sufficient exercise in small quarters and thrive on a diet of easily secured food, such as fish, beef, fowls, rabbits and eggs. A small pan of water and with dry nest boxes the animal is comfortable and thrives exceedingly well.
Mink are usually run in pairs, mating in February and March. The young arrive in May and June. Litters run from four to twelve and the mother and young require but little care except proper and sufficient feed. In fact when the young arrive no attention should be paid to them for if the nest box is opened or disturbed, the mother will very likely attempt to remove the young which will probably prove fatal to some. The young grow quickly and six weeks after birth are running about the pen and usually ready to wean. With proper feed, the young attain full growth within five to six months and could be pelted within six months after birth and grade as a large number one pelt.
Raising the mink for the fur alone shows an enormous profit but the rancher in our opinion can dispose of all of the surplus stock for breeding purposes for several times the pelt value, and this condition will continue to exist for a number of years. This is true of the Silver Fox industry, which has been in existence for many years.
Ranch raised mink are reasonably tame, they will feed from the hand and if they escape from their pens are usually easily caught. However all properly planned ranches should be within the confines of a good guard(Continued on Page 12)
Meet The Game Warden who Enforces Uncle Sam's Game Laws
COL. HAROLD P. SHELDON, State Fish and Game Commissioner of Vermont, is now serving as Chief United States Game Warden. The appointment was made last summer by the Secretary of Agriculture from the eligible list certified by the Civil Service Commission, Mr. Sheldon's name standing highest, on that list.
The Chief U. S. Game Warden has charge of the administration of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and the Lacey Act. The position is a difficult one calling for a high grade man and it is due the sportsmen of the United States that they be informed as to the experience and qualifications of the man who has been chosen to serve them and to guard the interests of the migratory birds included in the treaty with Canada.
The Chief Warden is a native of Vermont, 38 years of age, was educated in the grammar and high schools of his state and completed courses in law and English at George Washington University and at Georgetown University. Before becoming officially connected with the Work of conservation he was deeply interested as a sportsman and was a regular contributor to all the outdoor periodicals and the better class of magazines on shooting and fishing subjects.
Col. Sheldon has a brilliant and distinguished war record. Going overseas as a First Lieutenant, Company C, 102nd Machine Gun Battalion, he participated in the heaviest of the fighting, received merited promotion, and when forced out of active service at the front by wounds and gas poisoning had been advanced to the rank of captain and was commanding three machine gun companies operating as a battalion. First entering the Line with the British in Flanders in December, 1917, he went with the Americans in the 26th Division in February, 1918, and was in hot fighting in the following engagements: Chemin des Dames, Toul, Aisne Marne, Saint Mihiel and Meuse Argonne, He was Brigade Machine Gun Officer during all the Chateau Thierry fighting. After being discharged from the hospital in, 1919 he was placed) in command at Fort Ethan Allen, Vermont, but retired from the army later the same year owing to physical disability resulting from wounds and gas poison.
Following the war Col. Sheldon was Assistant Editor of Public Information, U. S. Department of Agriculture, until he was called back to Vermont by Governor Hartness in 1921 to take charge of the State Department of Fish and Game as Commissioner, which position he has held since.
Entering upon his work as Commissioner of Fish and Game Mr. Sheldon put into effect his well defined ideas of conservation and has brought about marked progress in his state in the five years of his administration. He has established many refuges for both fish and game, successfully applying the same principle to both, has enlarged the fish propagation work, reorganized the field work by insisting upon a trained personnel, and has cooperated closely and harmoniously with the sportsmen of the state. More substantial recognition from the legislature for the department has made it possible to establish a game farm and a large migratory bird refuge.
Mr. Sheldon will come to the Bureau of Biological Survey well equipped by natural talents, and by training and experience for the work in the national field.
COL. HAROLD P. SHELDON Chief Game Warden of the United States
Among the most ruthless enemies of agriculture, insects must be mentioned in the first place. Not a year passes without these small creatures coming in innumerable legions to ravage some part of our cultivation. This fact becomes very evident to all at the time of great plagues, as when the caterpillars or grashoppers ruin crops that are full of promise, or strip the leaves from magnificent trees. However, though less apparent, the evil exists all the same in the years which follow, as statistics show that the injurious insects cost the province of Quebec the great sum of $10,000,000 annually.
How would it be if the insects existed in a state of plague continually? In the space of two or three years, the damage would increase to a hundred million dollars, and famine would be close at hand. Fortunately, Providence has decreed that these invasions be only transitory. It has put to work several factors which tend, without ceasing, to bring down to the normal figure the number of the enemies of cultivation. To maintain this equilibrium, indispensable for the success of the crops, we have no more powerful auxiliary than our birds.
The bird is an active and vigilant ally that is always in the breach. Without ceasing it harasses the enemy and makes immense gaps in his ranks. The more numerous the birds, the more rapid is the destruction of the ravaging insects.
As the insect is the most natural food for the bird, it is the dainty sought after and greedily devoured; and(Continued on Page 15)
OUTDOOR NEBRASKAPublished by Department of Agriculture, Bureau of Fish and Game. Editorial Office, State Capitol, Lincoln, Nebraska FRANK B. O'CONNELL Editor DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE Adam McMullen Governor H. J. McLaughlin Secretary Frank B. O'Connell Warden Vol. II. Lincoln, January, 1927 No. 2
Outdoor Nebraska is published quarterly. During 1927 there will be issues published in January, April, July and September.
The Editor is indebted to many Nebraska sportsmen for pictures which have been sent to OUTDOOR NEBRASKA. Many have been used and others, now on file, will be used in later issues. Particular credit must be given to Dr. George E. Condra, Director of the Conservation and Survey Division of the State University, who has cooperated in every possible way in furnishing suitable pictures.
The Nebraska Bureau of Game and Fish need some changes in the law. There are a number of game laws on the Nebraska statutes which in themselves are conflicting and difficult to enforce. Then there are a number that require changes to meet new conditions.
The Bureau of Game and Fish suggests some twenty changes in the present law. Practically every one of these suggestions is along the line of conservation and strict law enforcement. The laws have been carefully studied and where they have been found conflicting or inadequate to meet present conditions, changes have been suggested.
It is believed that, should the Legislature deem it wise to enact these suggestions into law that the Bureau would be better able to conserve our wild life and enforce our laws.
Every Nebraska citizen and every visitor should strictly observe the state and federal laws which protect fish and game.
All Nebraskans and those who visit the state should have plenty of wholesome recreation. The laws of the state are not made to deny one the right to an enjoyment of the great outdoors, but rather to preserve the enjoyment of the great outdoors.
Today it is vitally necessary that every citizen help conserve our wild resources. Unless this is done all of our wild life will disappear. The automobile and good roads are going to make a great change in northern and western Nebraska. Thousands will visit scenes where few went before.
Here are some rules compiled by a sportsman's organization. Follow them and you will get more enjoyment from your recreation and at the same time help preserve our fish and game:
Never in sport endanger human life.
Never kill wantonly or needlessly.
Obey the laws of state and nation and uphold the law-enforcement officer.
Respect the rights of property-owners.
Always leave seed birds and game in covers.
Never be a fish-hog or a game-hog.
Discourage the killing of game and the taking of fish for commercial purposes.
Love Nature and its denizens and be a gentleman.
The following menu of a New York restaurant during the holiday season in 1879 gives good evidence of why game is short today. Here is the dinner offered forty-eight years ago:Game Leg of Cumberland Mountain Black Bear Tennessee Opossum, Baked with Sweet Potatoes Kentucky 'Coon, Devil's Sauce Roasted Quail Saddle of Minnesota Venison with Red Currant Jelly Canvas-Back and Red-head Ducks Blue-wing and Wood Ducks Roasted Wild Turkeys, with Cranberry Sauce Wild Goose Young Prairie Chickens Broiled Pheasants Roasted Mallard Ducks Grosse Piece Froides Boned Wild Boar's Head Boned Turkeys Galatine de Ginde Buffalo Tongues Mayonnaise de Volaille Roasts Suckling Pig, a l'Anglaise Young Capon, Giblet Sauce Domestic Ducks, with Jelly Green Goose Stuffed Young Turkeys
The Case of the Prairie ChickensBy FRANK B.' O'CONNELL
(The case of Prairie Chicken vs. the State of Nebraska in the Court of Public Opinion.)
Your Honor, my name is Prairie Chicken. I am a native of Nebraska. In the early days before the coming of the White Man my ancestors lived upon the unbroken prairie in peace and security. My people were numbered by the thousands and life was very sweet to them.
Unfortunately for my people, Your Honor, we must live in the open places. We cannot thrive where we are hemmed in by civilization. We must have broad fields and prairies upon which to feed and build our homes. Our young are very tender and timid. Our little ones cannot do well when they are endangered by man and his machines.
In the olden days we had our enemies. The wolf and the coyote and the mink and the eagle and the hawk used to steal into our homes and steal the little ones. Many times there was a pitiful scene when a young mother returned to the nest to find it looted by some miscreant who had taken advantage of her while she was seeking food. We had our natural enemies in those days, but we managed to increase in numbers and to get along. We have no complaint to make of that.
It is of conditions today, Your Honor, of which I complain.
Today, Your Honor, we are faced with extinction. The White Man has come in ever increasing numbers, pushing farther and farther westward until today there is no place left for us. Not only is it impossible for us to find suitable places where we can obtain food and build our nests — worse than that, Your Honor, it is impossible for us to find a place where White Man will even let us rest in peace and security. There is only a handful of us left.
It is true, Your Honor, that the White Man has passed some laws in the last few years which are meant to protect and preserve us. But alas! these laws are so poor and so many of your people have given them so little heed!
As I say, Your Honor, there is only a handful of us left. I am here today to plead our cause. Unless you can give us some relief we are doomed. We cannot go on like this; five years more and we are doomed.
I do not feel that we are asking anything unreasonable, Your Honor. Over half of all my people left have been driven into your state, Nebraska. Here we are making our last stand. I am here today to ask several things. I hope that you can see your way clear to grant them. Life to us is sweet; it is a heart-breaking thing to see one's people vanish from the face of the earth.
The first request I have to make, Your Honor, is for a place where we can feed and raise our families in security. We do not expect much. We shall be glad to have only a few preserves, just a few places where we can know we are safe from those who would destroy us.
And secondly, Your Honor, we ask that we be protected against the ever-increasing number who come each year to hunt us. We wonder if you really know our plight, Your Honor. Pardon me for digressing a moment. Here is-the picture:
Under your present laws each fall there are thirty long days when men can come from all over America to hunt us. Each man can kill ten of us. Men come in tens and hundreds. They come in automobiles nowadays and they run over hill and valley from early in the morning until late at night. Some of these men are too lazy to give us even a fighting chance. They sit in their camps and hire some market-hunter to kill us for them. Then they load our dead bodies into their cars and take us home where they feed upon our flesh and boast to their friends of their prowess as hunters. And some of these White Men, too poor in sportsmanship to give us a fighting chance for our lives, steal upon us in their cars and shoot us before we know whether it is friend or foe. Many of our people, Your Honor, have died from a gun fired from a man sitting in a car. Then there is the White Man whom you call a Game-Hog, who is afraid that he isn't going to get his share and that his neighbor will kill us first. He goes out before the allotted thirty days and kills our young before they have learned to care for themselves.
All we ask, Your Honor, is a place in the sun and protection against too much hunting. We are of a sporting blood and willing to try our wing against the eye of any White Man. But we ask that we be given a fighting chance — just a fighting chance. If you will allow us enough peace and security to raise our young and give us enough protection to recuperate our depleted numbers, we will not complain. We will do our best to help make Nebraska a fine state with abundant wild life and a glorious outdoors. We know that the olden days can never return; that there are now new conditions. But we feel that we are entitled to live and that it would be unfair to allow our race to disappear from the earth. Once we are gone there can be no return.
What Nebraska Thinks of the Pheasant
IN an effort to ascertain what Nebraska citizens think of the King-Neck Pheasant which was trapped and distributed throughout eastern and southern Nebraska in large numbers last spring, a questionnaire was recently mailed to 400 citizens in various communities of the state by the Bureau of Game and Fish.
Up to time of publication of this magazine replies from 234 people had come to hand. One hundred and thirty-six failed to return the questionnaire, or at least had failed to return it up to the time of writing this article. Undoubtedly more replies will be received later, but a sufficient number have already come to hand to get an idea of how the pheasant is being received.
First, of all, and most important, practically all communities report having seen young birds during the, past year. In fact, 173 report having seen conveys of young while 48 advised they had not seen any of the young. This would seem to indicate that the seed planted last spring had got a good start. Inasmuch as in many cases the breeding stock was unaccustomed to the new surroundings, it is felt that this is a good start and that the second year will show even better returns.
One of the questions was what pheasants fed on in the community. Replies indicate that the pheasant is a great insect eater and will live on this diet almost exclusively as long as the insects last. From the observations of those who returned the questionnaires it would appear that the diet of. the pheasant throughout is insects, grain, waste grain weed seed and green food of various kinds. Replies were as follows:Insects109 Waste grain107 Grain.105 Weed seed. 48 Garden truck. 5
One of the questions asked was, "Do ou consider the pheasant the farmer's friend or enemy?" To this query 191 replied that they considered the pheasant a friend while 13 thought he was an enemy. Many of those written replied with letters explaining that in their opinion the pheasant might eat some grain and do some damage during the spring but that they considered his bad points were far outweighed by his good qualities. Many told of how the pheasant had cleaned the grasshopper in particular alfalfa fields, cornfields, gardens, orchards, etc.
An effort was made to ascertain the pheasant's fighting qualities. Much has been heard of the pheasant's pugnacity. Therefore, each party receiving the questionnaire Was asked if they had ever seen a pheasant fighting, and what his opponent was. They were also asked if they had ever found a prairie chicken that had actually been killed by a prairie chicken. Reports indicate that the pheasant is a pretty scrappy bird all right and that his opponents in his ring activities were as follows:Fighting with another pheasant. 29 With domestic rooster. 14 With hawks 5 With crows. 2 With goose. 1 With turkey 1 With prairie chicken 3 With yellow hammer. 1
Out of the total number of replies received, 180 reported they had seen the pheasant fighting, while 53 had not made note of any battles.
An effort was also made to ascertain the relationship betweun the pheasant and domestic chickens. The question was asked: "Do pheasants feed with your chickens?" To this 1G5 replied that they did not while 62 reported that they did. To the question, "Do pheasants bother your chickens?" 203 reported that they do not bother them while 14 state that they were bothered.
One of the facts gleaned from the survey is that whether or not the pheasant is a pest in some communities he is greatly desired in many others. Many of the questionnaires were accompanied with urgent requests for more birds. Many of the letters were very glowing in their praise for the pheasant and the activities of the Bureau in trapping and distributing them.
The intensely farmed country of Iowa, eastern South Dakota and southern Minnesota, once a paradise for prairie chicken shooting, has long been practically devoid of upland game, but reports of success in pheasant shooting the past season indicate that sportsmen need not lack for a fine bird to hunt in the future.
Prejudice against the pheasant as a game bird is fast disappearing, especially where practically no other upland game bird can be had. One Minnesota sportsman writes enthusiastically after his first pheasant hunt and declares he enjoyed it as much as> any upland shooting he ever had.
In Iowa, where four counties were opened to pheasant shooting last year, 18 counties were open this year for three days, Oct. 14, 15 and 16, with a bag limit of three cock birds a day. Reports have been received from practically every locality in these open counties, and indicate that excellent shooting was had by over ten thousand local sportsmen. The total bag is estimated at 125,000 birds for three days shooting by residents and non-residents.
Here are some typical reports: "Many got the limit before breakfast." " Plenty of birds to furnish sport for the three days." "There were never so many hunters out before and thousands of birds were killed, but many remain." " Many secured the bag limit every day."
In South Dakota 34 counties were open and the season varied in each from two days to 20 days with a bag limit of seven birds a day, of which two could1 be hen birds, and a possession limit of 21. Reports were similar to those from Iowa.
Minnesota had her first general open season on pheasants this year, though two or three counties were open last year.
An interesting side light on the season's shooting has been the attitude of the farmers. During the past year there has been much discussion of the question of damage to crops by pheasants and farmers were supposed to be eager to have the birds killed off in many localities, but when it came to the actual test many farms were found to be posted and the owner objected to hunters going on their lands. In most cases the privilege could be secured on request and guarantee of no damage to fences, crops or domestic livestock or poultry.
Most of the complaint of vandalism was applied to " foreign " hunters, that is, those coming from a distance or from other states, many of whom, it is claimed, were ignorant of the laws, or disregarded them.
Production and Conservation of Fur AnimalsBy FRANK G. ASHBROOK Bureau of Biological Survey, United States Department of Agriculture
SINCE our country was first settled its natural resources in furs have been heavily drained. The steadily diminishing supply of fur animals tends to prove that the "fur wearer" is increasing faster than the " fur bearer." Raw-fur collectors in the United States estimate that the raw-fur catch during the past season (1925-26) was approximately 20 per cent less than in, the years before. Formerly the decrease has been in quantity of the more valuable pelts, such as marten, fisher, mink, and beaver, but now (the decrease is affecting such staples as muskrat and raccoon.
Twenty-five years ago the value of the annual catch of fur animals was roughly estimated at $25,000,000; today it is estimated at more than $60,000,000, and even this figure would have been exceeded no doubt if the supply had been maintained.PAST AND PRESENT CONDITIONS
As long as the primeval forests remained, and marshes were left in their natural condition, and streams flowed unpolluted, the trappers' activities gave no reason for concern, since the fur bearers were sufficiently prolific for the natural increase to meet the ever-growing demand. But with the destruction of forests by axe and fire, the indiscriminate drainage of swamp lands and lakes, the increasing pollution of streams, the encroachment of civilization— all reducing the natural fur-producing areas — together with trappers plying their trade out of season and trapping laws inadequate in the majority of states, the numbers of some species have been reduced below the point where they are commercially profitable.
In addition, we are confronted with the problem of relative values of the animals we seek to conserve, and the birds or animals upon which fur bearers prey, or, as in the case of the beaver, the value of the pelt as compared with the damage the animal does to lumber interests and farm property. These factors are of importance in the reduction of the number of fur bearers in those states in which from the weight of evidence the question is decided against the animals.COOPERATION NECESSARY
The principal object of conservation, whether of fur bearers or.other forms of wild life, is " conservation with use." It involves a comparison of sporting and commercial values that up to the present time has been insufficiently considered and even now this comparison is regarded with more fear than understanding by some game enthusiasts.
Any conflict of interest between sportsmen, trappers, and fur traders uselessly wastes both time and energy. The groups should work out their problems together and present a united front in urging legislation concerning conservation. The drainage of swamps and lakes where ducks abound affects the habitat of the muskrat; forest fires destroy fur animals as well as game; and polluted waters destroy the food and starve the animals. Where there is laxity in the enforcement of game laws the situation is worse with respect to fur animals.
Furs of many kinds were commonly taken in all sections of the country a few generations ago, but now over great areas, with the depletion or extinction of certain Of the more prized species, the most valuable fur bearers purely from the standpoint of financial returns from the annual catch, are the muskrat, skunk, raccoon, and opossum.MUSKRAT
In certain sections of the country where the open season lasts from 4 to 6% months, the muskrat is becoming scarce. Reports show that there was a decrease in the 1925 annual catch of approximately 20 per cent over that of the previous year. Muskrats range in 47 states but are still unprotected in 6. In 23 states they have to face an open season of more than 3 months, and in only 15% states is the open season 3 months or less, while in 2% states the muskrat is protected throughout the year.
Persons responsible for the enactment of fur laws do not always consider the fact that the most valuable skins are taken Ialte in winter or early in spring. Muskrats within the United States should not be taken before December 1, and only while the fur is still prime. When the breeding season is in progress in the latter part of March, continued trapping would greatly affect the number of young animals for the next year.SKUNK
The skunk stands next in importance to the muskrat as a source of fur, and brings to the trappers of the United States millions of dollars annually. Skunks are found in every state in the Union; 34 states now have laws protecting them, with open seasons of 2 to 4% months. There are still 14 states that give them no protection whatever and one that protects them in only a few counties. Protective laws for skunks were passed largely in response to the wishes of farmers, who recognize the usefulness of these animals in destroying injurious insects and to the demands of persons interested in conserving the fur resources of the country. In view of their usefulness and fur value, skunks should be protected everywhere by a close season of at least 9 months, but the right of farmers to destroy predatory skunks should always be reserved. Skunk skins are prime from about the middle of October to the middle of February.
Trapping these animals as late as March or April should be prohibited in all states.RACCOON
Within the memory of many now living the price of raccoon skins was at one time so small that the pelts were seldom marketed, although they were often utilized for homemade caps. Now, however, their value is sufficient to induce trappers to capture them whenever possible, with. the result that their numbers are being seriously depleted in all parts of the country. Raccoon pelts were once dressed and dyed to imitate bear, fisher, marten, lynx, and other long-haired furs. So great has been the popularity of raccoon sport coats and trimmings that other long-haired furs are now being dyed to imitate raccoon in order to supplement the diminishing supply of this fur.
The raccoon has claims to protection not only as a fur animal but also because of its value as food and game. Though probably less esteemed than opossum, its flesh is eaten in many parts of the country. Affording fur, food, and sport, it is amazing that the raccoon should not be more highly valued and protected throughout its range during the breeding period and the time of unprime fur, yet it shares with many other fur animals the charge of being harmful to poultry, a fact that has doubtless(Continued on Page 16)
Departmental ActivitiesKeeping Lakes Open
Owing to low water in northern Nebraska this winter, the Bureau of Game and Fish have a difficult problem in saving fish. A number of men are patrolling the northern lakes looking after them.
Fortunately, Mr. M. E. O'Brien, Superintendent of the Valentine Hatchery, devised a ventilator which keeps the lakes open and allows the gas to escape thereby keeping alive fish. This ventilator has been placed on a number of lakes and is a great help.
These ventilators are inexpensive to make and anyone desiring to place them on ponds or lakes can get the specifications by writing to the Bureau of Game and Fish at Lincoln.
Contracts were let in December for four wells in Hagen's lake in Brown County and one well in McNamara's Lake. Both of these lakes are well stocked with fish but extremely low. It is hoped that these wells, together with proper ventilation this winter "will preserve the fish in them.
The latest nursery pond for trout to be established is located near Chadron on the Black Eanch. Through the interest in wild life on the part of Mr. Black, a deed was given to the state for a very good spring that can be made into a trout nursery. Development on the same will begin early in the spring.
A very good trout nursery located near Rushville was deeded to the state. The Rushville Izaak Walton League and the Bureau of Game and Fish have already developed the project and will have it ready for stocking early in the spring. This nursery is one f the largest in Nebraska.
Licenses for 1927 have been sent out to all parts of the state and are now generally on sale. Owing to the great rush of work at the first of the year, the shipping of some licenses was slightly delayed.
A new design is being used for both hunting and fishing and the trapping licenses. The hunting and fishing license shows a fish and some ducks, without any human figures. The trapping license shows a muskrate and racoon which are now Nebraska's leading fur bearing animals.
A new game preserve embracing 3,600 acres will shortly be established in Lancaster County. The petition, signed by seventeen land owners have already been presented to the Secretary of Agriculture who will undoubtedly issue an order setting aside this tract as a place for game and birds to breed. The tract of land is located near Walton, in eastern Lancaster County. Stevens creek runs through the tract. It is heavily wooded and is considered an ideal place for birds and game. Carl L. Retzlaff circulated the petition and leases and co-operated with the Bureau of Game and Fish in establishing the preserve.
A Game Farmer's license is now being prepared by the Bureau of Game and Fish and will be ready to issue shortly. Also a pamphlet on game farming of fur-bearing animals is being prepared and will be available for distribution throughout the state. Nebraska has a law which fully regulates game farming. Heretofore no licenses have ever been issued. It is the policy of the present administration to encourage game farming in all its various phases.
Nebraska is ideally located for the raising of muskrats, minks, skunks, etc. The muskrat in particular offers excellent opportunity to men who desire to enter the business-like and scientific basis. Many lakes and swamps now being drained for hay and pasture land could be preserved for muskrat farms and make a large profit to the owner.
The fur market is bound to be good for years to come. With the natural supply rapidly diminishing it will be up to the fur farmer to meet the demands of milady. Many fur farms in northern states are now in operation and are financial successes. Most of the fur raised there is fox, otter, etc. Nebraska is well adapted to the smaller fur-bearers and the market for such furs is always good.
Walter C. Henderson has been appointed to be associate chief of the Biological Survey. This is a new position recently created by the Secretary of Agriculture. Mr. Henderson has been connected with the Survey for about ten years.
(Editor's Note: The following letter is contributed by Dr. O. A. Ralston of Ainsworth, better known among the sportsmen as "Doc". The opinions voiced are Doc's, written in his frank and straightforward style.To the Editor:
Before it is too late I want to call your attention to the bass fishing situation in the Sand Hill region of Nebraska. Many sportsmen (throughout the country have come to recognize the Sand Hill lakes for the best bass fishing left in the middle western states. And as a result of this fact they are coming, mainly because of good roads, as they never came before. The resorts have been crowded; regular paths of tromped-down rushes around the lakes. Tents of all descriptions with campers galore. Hundreds of cars coming daily. They are all taking a heavy toll of the remaining fish.
Five years ago, and you can ask any resident of this section, who fished for bass, it was nothing to make a large catch of fine bass any morning or evening, providing fair weather, on Rat, Beaver, Marsh, Hagens, Enders, and several other lakes. This spring and summer I have been out with some of the fines* old bass fishermen who knew all the wiles of this crafty fish and they would return to camp in the evening after fishing hard all day with only five or six bass worth keepings Oh yes, some of the game hogs will catch and keep a good many small fish just under the limit and boastingly tell of the NUMBER they caught. Three years ago one could stand up in a boat and let the breeze quietly drift the boat across the lake and he could see many fine schools of bass and other fish. This summer I tried the same thing on Marsh Lake where I had seen so many before in past; years and you may not believe this but I saw just four bass while drifting over a mile across the lake. Just this year I heard a fisherman say, " Oh, you can never fish out Marsh Lake; it's too big." Moreover, I foolishly thought the same thing less than two years ago.
On another occasion this summer an excellent fisherman and myself fished hard one whole fine day on Marsh Lake. I used both flies and plugs and kept hard at it. In the evening Fred Baldwin joined me after having caught five large bass. I caught only two. Don't misunderstand me, for the Lord knows this is enough fish for even a gamehog. But here is the point I want to get at. All seven of the fish would average over five pounds but six of them were females, their bellies brimming full of spawn that would hatch out thousands of small bass within two or three weeks. Fred held them up and said, "Doc, I feel like a horse thief taking those mother bass but the law permits it and if I turn them back some other fellow will have them in less than three days." I made no reply but we both stood still looking out over the lake thinking. Slowly we turned and walked to the car.
For comparison I want to site you to the condition of Lake Andes in South Dakota and the Lakes of Minnesota. A few years ago there was lots of bass in the above named lakes. I fished Lake Andes this last summer for three days and I never caught one bass. Also in talking to several sportsmen who had been to the Minnesota lakes I found that the situation was nearly as bad there. These lakes are stocked much more than our Nebraska lakes and THEY ARE PROTECTED DURING THE SPAWNING SEASON. That ought to make us stop and think. You may ask why we still have fairly good bass fishing and I can tell you that it has been because of the bad roads in the sand hills. Until about a year ago they were nearly inaccessable except to the natives who fished very little. Again on account of the good roads and the ever increasing number of sportsmen and sportswomen, because of no protecting laws, and so little amount of restocking being done, is it any wonder that we are commencing to see the damaging result to our lakes.
A fine catch by a young Dawes County angler —Photo by G. H. Nichols
The Izaak Walton League has helped wonderfully by bringing pressure to bear that gave us one of the largest warm water fish hatcheries in the United States and by building many nursery ponds. However, these will not show any benefits for at least three or four years.
I do not wish to criticize the Walton League but they have been organized now three years and there has not been a change made in the laws for the protection of game and fish. I am one of the directors but it seems to me that we are failing if we do not take action at once. Are we Nebraska sportsmen so little, so mean and hoggish that we must have our fun and recreation as we call it and keep on taking fish during the spawning season when we know it is wrong and realize that the fish in other states are protected during this time of the season ? In other words, we have looked after the propagation and failed to protect.
What is the remedy? What can we do? New laws to protect. I am stating nothing new or original when I say we can enact the following laws even though they are deplorably late if passed this fall. Here they are and they have been tried successfully in other states: Cut the limit from 25 to 10 or a dozen. Keep nothing under ten inches instead of eight. Last and most important, have a flexible time law for protection during spawning season. These laws enacted will only save our bass fishing if the propagation end of it is kept up by our hatcheries and nursery ponds.
Wild Fowl Conditions Serious in West
Following a thorough investigation of the conditions affecting waterfowl of the Rocky Mountain and Pacific Coast regions covering several months, Dr. E. W. Nelson, chief of the Bureau of Biological Survey, made a most illuminating report at the recent National Game Conference held by the American Game Protective Association in New York City.
In a word, Dr. Nelson's conclusions, after this most comprehensive survey, are that the entire waterfowl situation in that region is deplorable and exceedingly acute. Conditions are becoming steadily worse and the need for constructive work to check the tremendous loss of birds is very urgent.
During the past few years in excess of ten million wild ducks and vast numbers of other wild fowl have died in the western states due to poisoning contracted in the restricted water areas at points of congestion in their line of migration.
In no other part of the United States does this condition exist. The worst conditions are to be found at the Bear River marshes in Northern Utah, Malheur Lake in Eastern Oregon, and Tule Lake and Lower Klamath Lake in Northern California. The same conditions exist to a lesser degree at other points in these states and in Montana. At these places birds concentrate in large numbers has been taken from the feeder streams for irrigation, reclamation activity and other uses, the water level has been lowered to such an extent that alkali and kindred poisons have killed the birds in colossal numbers.
The duck supply of the west is largely dependent on these areas and if the sport of duck hunting is to be saved on the western coast very prompt action must be taken. Otherwise waterfowl shooting in that region will soon be only a memory.
The birds affected supply the shooting for eleven western states, consequently the problem is obviously a national one, as each state can not be expected to deal adequately with it, though each can do something. Utah has already made a beginning by building dykes and raising the water area in a considerable area.
Substantial sums of money are needed promptly to do the work immediately imperative. In Utah it will require $300,000 to flood approximately 150 square miles. At Malheur Lake a dam and artesian wells are required. Other places require similar work. The legislation pending in congress intended to meet the requirements of this desperate situation is found in the Migratory Bird Refuge Bill, which would yield revenues for the purpose without the necessity of asking congress for appropriations.
A 1926 bag taken on the Platte River by F. A. Jelen and James McEvoy. 35 mallards and one blue-bill
MINK FARMING IN NEBRASKA(Continued from Page 4)
rence with strips of metal sheeting to guard the animals from climbing over.
Wild caught mink are not successful breeders, they seldom breed the first year after confinement and usually die or seriously injure themselves when placed within wire enclosures. The only practical breeding mink are those which are ranch born and raised.
Seclusion for the location of a ranch is not necessary, the ordinary back yard can accommodate a number of pairs. The writer has successfully riased them within the confines of a small city lot.
Mink ranching today may be compared to the Silver Pox industry of years ago, the Pox has proven profitable to thousands and there are hundreds of such ranches in the States today. Considering the investment, the demand and the care required, the mink industry will undoubtedly prove to be even a greater success and more profitable than that of the Pox. The mink industry in the ideal climatic conditions existing in Nebraska will prove profitable to many and as well afford pleasure to those interested in animals and nature.
To Make Survey
The Nebraska Bureau of Game and Fish will make a survey of the fur industry in Nebraska immediately following the close of the open season on fur bearing animals. The entire state will be checked to ascertain how much fur was taken and marketed in 1926-27.
Hearing on Wild Fowl
A hearing on methods of further restricting the killing of migratory wild fowl will be held in Washington, January 20. The hearing will be conducted by the Assistant Secretary of Agriculture and bag limits, rest days, shortening of seasons, etc., will be discussed.
When you finish reading your copy of OUTDOOR NEBRASKA give it to a friend to read. Or, better still, mail it to a relative or friend in some other state that he may learn of the splendid things to be found in Nebraska.
BUREAU OF GAME AND FISH MAKES REPORT(Continued from Page 3)
The following table gives the number and nature of the various violations and the convictions secured during the biennium:VIOLATIONS Jan. 1,1925 to Dec.31,1925 Jan. 1,1926 to Dec. 31,1926 Total for Biennium Hunting illegally 29 50 79 Fishing illegally 23 109 132 Trapping illegally 8 28 36 Hunting without license 28 46 74 Fishing without license 43 100 143 Trapping without license 5 6 11 Shooting after sunset 9 11 20 Illegal possession of fish and game 29 27 56 Buying furs without license 1 3 4 Impersonating game warden 1 1 Illegal sale of fish 3 3 Grand total 175 384 559 Devices confiscated. 531 521 1,052 Game and fish confiscated 410 643 1,053 Arrests with conviction. 171 355 526 Arrests without convictions 12 23 35 CONSERVATION AND DISTRIBUTION
The conservation of fish and game is one of the most importanit activities of the Bureau. Each year many ponds, irrigation ditches and lakes contain fish which would freeze out the following winter were they not transferred to other waters. Each year the Missouri River and other streams overflow filling nearby ponds and sloughs with water. Here is provided natural spawning beds where thousands of bullheads, catfish, crappies and perch spawn. Most summers these ponds and sloughs dry up and were it not for the seining crews of the Bureau many of these fish would be lost.
During the summer of 1926 many ponds and swamps in northern Nebraska dried up owing to lack of normal waterfall during the two preceding seasons. This caussd considerable conservation work and a number of ponds and overflows were seined. Thousands of adult fish were saved in this way.
Likewise, much conservation work with game birds can be done. Early in 1926 the Bureau was faced with the situation of having too many Ring-Necked Pheasants in Howard, Sherman, Greeley and Valley Counties, while in eastern and southern Nebraska there was a great demand for these birds. The Bureau made arrangements for trapping and transplanting these birds. Approximately 15,000 were thus redistributed. The average cost in getting birds in this manner was $1.40 per bird, whereas to have shipped them in from game farms or to have imported them they would have cost $3.00 or $4.00 per bird.
The following table shows the number and varieties of fish conserved during the biennium. Most of these fish were adults:FISH CONSERVATION Jan. 1,1925 to Dec. 31,1925 Jan. 1,1926 to Dec. 31,1926 Total for Biennium Black Bass 16 7,091 7,107 Perch . 53,400 112,940 163,340 Sunfish. 19,700 10,988 30,688 Crappies 28,500 110,600 139,160 Bullheads 193,700 382,850 586,550 Catfish 15,150 15,717 30,867 Pike 80 5 85 Grand total.953,690 COURSE FISH REMOVAL Owing to the undesirability and destructive habits of the carp, buffalo, gar and sucker, the Bureau frequently removes these fish from Nebraska waters. This is only done where such fish are a menace to game fish and where there are too many of them.
During the biennium the following ponds and lakes have been seined, and the fish sold on the market:Water Pounds Moon Lake 90,000 Carter Lake 21,058 Quinnebaugh 11,249 Columbus and Genoa Lakes 150 Peru River Ponds 3,000 Champion Lake 3,500 St. Helena Lake 5,000 Sidney and Lodgepole Lakes 60 Nathan's Lake. 2,500 Horseshoe Lake 5,000 Dora Lake 350 Grand total141,867 CARTER LAKE REHABILITATION
During the biennium assistance was given to Omaha in the rehabilitation of Carter Lake. For several years this lake has been going down until in 1926 it reached a point where fish could no longer adequately spawn. Carter Lake furnished fishing for thousands of Douglas county citizens, many of whom seldom get away to seek recreation in other parts. A total of 302,389,500 gallons of water was pumped into the lake. The state paid one-half of the cost of this amount, which was $3,779.87. The lake is now near normal. In addition to this the lake was seined of course fish and restocked with game fish.WELLS
The Bureau has sunk wells on a number of lakes in northern Nebraska in order to save fish that had been stocked by the state at considerable expense. Owing to the extremely dry seasons many lakes were so low that wells were required to keep them from drying up in the summer and freezing out in the winter.GAME BIRD DISTRIBUTION
During the biennium 400 Hungarian, Partridges were imported and distributed in favorable localities throughout the state.
The following Ring-Necked Pheasants were trapped in several of the counties where they had thrived especially well and were reshipped to the counties as noted:PHEASANT DISTRIBUTION County Shipped To Number of Birds County Shipped To Number of Birds Saline 510 Gage 494 Holt 492 Saunders 471 Douglas 442 Lancaster 436 Dodge 436 Webster 279 Franklin 293 Frontier 227 Fillmore 286 Seward 234 Colfax 288 Stanton 266 (Continued on Page 14) 14 OUTDOOR NEBRASKA Richardson 420 Otoe 427 Johnson 396 Pawnee 315 Nemaha 398 Cass 397 Sarpy 345 Washington 380 Burt 326 Cedar 307 Platte 207 Knox 356 Antelope 320 Jefferson 304 Madison . 341 Cuming 321 Red Willow 296 Harlan 255 Thurston 235 Dakota 232 Dixon 245 Wayne 200 Pierce. 281 Nuckolls 245 Boyd 154 Adams 190 Clay 158 Thayer 184 Furnas 181 Hitchcock 181 Lincoln 104 Dawson 90 York 171 Phelps 104 Butler 111 NURSERY PONDS
One of the forward steps in the direction of more economical fish production is in the use of the nursery pond system.
Instead of putting fry into natural waters when they leave the hatchery they can be put in nursery ponds in suitable locations throughout the State. They should be placed in such ponds in the spring and released in nearby waters in the fall. Where this method of fish culture is followed approximately fifty per cent of the fish planted reach maturity, whereas under the old system of putting fry into natural waters direct from the hatchery only about five per cent reached maturity.
Sites in the following counties have been deeded to the State and nursery ponds constructed or in the process of construction thereon: Antelope, one; Holt, one; Brown, one; Sheridan, one; Dawes, one.
Nurseries under the auspices of the local chapters of the Izaak Walton League have been established in Johnson, Dodge, Colfax, Dawson and Dundy counties,GAME AND BIRD PRESERVES
With the population of Nebraska increasing, low lands being drained, and open prairies being cultivated, the problem of conserving wild game and birds grows more and more difficult.
With this in mind the Bureau has encouraged the establishing of preserves throughout the state. There are several of these preserves established by the Legislature namely, Bessey Division of the National Forest, comprising 94,670 acres, the Niobrara Division of the Nebraska National Forest, comprising 123,138 acres, the Fontenelle Forest Reserve, comprising 2,543 acres, the Garden County Preserve, comprising 10 rods each side of the Platte River in Garden County, Nebraska.
During the biennium the following additional preserves have been established through leasing, as provided by law:
Preserve No. 2, near Nebraska City, comprising 3,500 acres.
Preserve No. 3, near Bostwick, Nuckolls County, comprising 2,309 acres.
Preserve No. 4, Lincoln County, comprising 15,000 acres.
Preserve No. 5, Saunders County, comprising 1,040 acres.RECREATION GROUNDS
The 1924-25 session of the State Legislature appropriated from the license funds the sum of $50,000.00 to be used for the purchase of hunting and fishing lakes and grounds.
The Bureau has made a careful study of the matter and during the bienndum has purchased four holdings which are being developed into recreational grounds. These holdings were purchased at various points throughout the state so as to be available to all citizens. Only lakes and grounds well suited to hunting and fishing were considered.
The lakes and grounds purchased are as follows:
Goose Lake, Holt County, comprising some 350 acres most of which is water. The tract has been fenced, wells put down and camping facilities constructed.
Wallgreen Lake, Sheridan County, comprising some 130 acres, most of which is water. A ditch leading from Hay Springs Creek into the lake and a road has been constructed.
Rat and Beaver Lakes, Cherry County, comprising 242.42 acres, of which most is- water. This tract has not been developed, owing to the desire of the Bureau to make additional purchases here when more of the lakes become .available for purchase.
Fremont Sand Pits, Dodge County, comprising some 165 acres, most of which are sand1 pit lakes. This was but recently purchased and no developing has as yet been done.VALENTINE HATCHERY
During the last two years a great deal of improvement has been made at this hatchery. A number of new ponds have been constructed and enlarged until the hatchery is today one of the largest pond hatcheries in the country. Still further improvements, which include piping of colder water to the hatching house, are now under construction.
Fish now propagated at Valenitine include ralinbow trout, brook trout, black bass, perch, crappies, sunfish and bullfrogs. Considerable success has been had in propagating the blue-gill and pumpkin-seed sunfish, both of which are proving popular with anglers.
Over a million and a half fish have been propagated at this hatchery during the past two years. Practically all of the pond fish from this hatchery (all fish except trout) were fingerlings at the time they were distributed. Besides these there were some fifty thousand held over for distribution during the spring of 1927. The hatchery production in 1925-26 is still far from its possible output, since many of the ponds were not developed in time to use them in 1925 and many of them were new and not fully vegetated for the 1926 spawning season.
The Valentine hatchery produced during 1926 over 60,000 trout eggs. These were taken from stock placed on the Federal Game Reserve nearby.
The distribution for the two years follows:Jan. 1,1925 to Dec. 31,1925 Jan. 1,1926 to Dec.31,1926 Total for Biennium Rainbow Trout 51,000 51,000 Brook Trout.563,000 497,000 1,060,000 Black Bass 23,850 43,225 67,075 Rock Bass 17,850 47,400 65,250 Striped Perch 42,600 84,700 127,300 Sunfish 16,250 32,050 48,300 Catfish. 200 200 Bullheads 31,600 31,600 Goldfish 50 25 75 Bullfrogs 28,500 31,100 59,600 Total 735,850 888,050 1,623,900 OUTDOOR NEBRASKA 15 GRETNA HATCHERY
Construction work and improvement at the Gretna Hatchery during the past two years consisted of new walks and retards along the river which threatened the property. One-half the cost of eight retards constructed was paid by Sarpy County.
Fish propagated at Gretna includes rainbow trout, brook trout, black bass, crappies, sunfish, rock bass, catfish and bullfrogs.
Nearly a half million fish were produced from this hatchery during the two years. The personnel of this hatchery have also engaged in conservation and distribution-work, carrying on this important work along with their other activities.
The distribution for the two years follows:Jan. 1,1925 to Dec. 31,1925 Jan. 1,1926 to Dec. 31,1926 Total for Biennium Rainbow Trout 3,200 129,000 132.200 Brook Trout. 146,000 146,000 Black Bass (L M) 23,600 23,600 Striped Perch 12,000 12,000 Crappies 13,825 7,550 21,375 Sunfish 10,900 1,700 12,600 Catfish 2,500 2,500 Rock Bass 4,700 400 5,100 Bullheads 500 2,200 2,700 Goldfish 208 133 341 Bullfrogs 8,000 18,500 26,500 Total 64,633 319,983 394,616 BENKELMAN AND ROCK CREEK HATCHERIES
During the past two years the Rock Creek Hatchery, located near Parks, Nebraska, has been developed. A number of new ponds have been constructed and several are in the course of construction. An ice house has been built, a road through the grounds laid' out and graded and the ground landscaped.
This hatchery is suitable for the raising of trout and it is being developed with this in mind. While there should be a larger acreage for ponds, this hatchery when fully developed will be producing many thousands of trout.
The distribution for the two years follows:Jan. 1,1925 to Dec. 31,1925 Jan, 1,1926 to Dec. 31,1926 Total for Biennium Rainbow Trout 69,392 69,392 Brook Trout.531,002 184,162 715,164 Brown Trout. 76,690 15,456 92.146 Black Bass (L M) 5,050 17,950 23^030 Striped Perch 8,300 11,550 19,850 Crappies 100 100 Sunfish 3,350 4,850 7,700 Bullheads 3,875 31,400 35,275 Bullfrogs 21,000 12,600 33,600 Total 649,867 353,710 1,003,577 Grand total hatchery and conservation fish 3,975,783
INSECTIVOROUS BIRDS(Continued from Page 5)
that is why a thousand million insects find death every year through the beak of the bird.
Scientists inform us that if the stomach of a field bird is opened it is found to be one-half or three-quarters full of the remains of insects. And this is true to such an extent that even the birds which we consider as enemies, as for example the crow, swallow numerous insects and feed on grain only at the time of seeding.
No person has attempted to calculate the number of injurious insects eaten by the birds of our country, but it is easy to imagine what an enormous number of victims is required to satisfy the appetite of a bird for a single season.
Without the assistance of these inhabitants of the air, so generously given to us, it would be of little use to sow, for the insect ravagers would have devoured everything before harvest time.
We ought, therefore, to favour by every means the rapid multiplication of these valuable auxiliaries of the farmer.
How can it be explained that so useful ah animal should be massacred by those very persons who ought to protect it? What is to be thought about those ignorant hunters who wantonly massacre these precious allies of agriculture ?
What is to be thought of those cruel children who, during the summer wander about the woods in order to rob birds' nests, to destroy the eggs which a feeble mother cannot protect, to kill the little ones who are unable to defend themselves ?
What is to be thought of those persons with diseased minds who seem to be possessed with a mania for killing without any reason the most inoffensive creatures that they meet?
The least that can be said of any of them is that they are working against their own interest; and for a great number, who have not even the excuse of ignorance, it must be declared that they are committing an unjust anl criminal act every time that they do this. Let us not forget that, in the first place, they are violating the laws of the country and that they are exposing themselves to severe penalties; then, without any necessity, they are destroying creatures that are necessary for abundant agricultural production. What injury have the birds done to them? It would embarrass them to try to tell.
Let us understand our interests better and be more humane; let us exemplify our precepts and let us train up a generation which will know better how to utilize the instruments that Providence has put at our disposal.
We must love the birds for the good that they do us; in return they exact from us only liberty to fly about in the air; they do not ask for any other recompense than to be a pleasure to the eye and a joy to the heart.
Loving the birds, it is also well to aid them. Let us facilitate the multiplication of these auxiliaries by distributing here and1 there small houses which will serve them for nests, driving away their enemies and feeding them when necessary.
By so doing we will have the consciousness of working for a good cause. Let it not be forgotten: the birds are our friends, woe to those who destroy them.
OUTDOOR NEBRASKA is mailed free to interested citizens. Drop a card to Bureau of Game and Fish, State House, Lincoln, Nebraska, if you do not now get the magazine and wish to receive it regularly.
Any citizen who wants to observe the game laws should get a copy of the state law. Same are furnished free by the Bureal of Game and Fish, State House, Lincoln Nebraska.
PRODUCTION AND CONSERVATION OF RAW FUR
(Continued from Page 9)
delayed legislation in its favor. The raccoon ranges in 48 states; one state gives it total protection and 43 give partial protection, with open seasons ranging from 2 to 5 months. It is still unprotected! in 4 states.
Raw-fur collectors in the Untied States and Canada estimated that the raccoon catch during the past season (1925-26) was approximately 30 per cent less than in the year before, and the future is not promising. No fur bearer is trapped or hunted more closely than the raccoon. It is pursued as game, and the night hunt for it with dogs and torches is a popular sport. The methods commonly used in hunting raccoons at night destroy their dens and nests and consequently act as a check on production. Existing conditions show that the supply is be'ng depleted and that further protection and a more strict enforcement of the laws is necessary if the raccoon is to retain its position among the leading fur bearers.OPOSSUM
The real importance of the opossum as a fur animal is just coming to be recognized. Its well-established value for food, combined with its fur value, makes it worthy of careful protection wherever it is found. Its range is limited to approximately 29 states, and in 24. of these it is given partial protection. The open seasons range from 2 to 6 months, but should not exceed 4 months, the close season beginning not later than March 1 and extending at least to November. 1. This would protect the opossum during the main period of reproduction.VERMIN
Fur animals are too generally looked upon as " vermin " to be killed on sight. Any living thing may at times from the standpoint of certain individuals be placed in the category of vermin. The poultry, pheasant, and quail-eating skunks, raccoons, and opossums are rare, though their deeds have been heralded far and wide and their names have become notorious. Because skunks break up raccoon hunting parties, authorities in one state wanted to exterminate them regardless of their value to agriculture and! to the fur trade. Last year a few minks were led astray by unbalanced nature, making their headquarters on a game farm in a middle western state, where they killed a large number of pheasants. The sins of these marauding minks were visited on the heads of the third and fourth generations of the entire mink family. As a consequence the state undertook extermination measures, placing a state-wide open season for one year on minks. The fact that minks have no such opportunities under natural conditions was completely ignored, as well as the equally important fact that there was no excuse for permitting the minks to do so much damage on a game farm before repressive measures there were undertaken.
Such an attack on the masses is unjustifiable. The better plan would have been to apprehend them as individuals rather than as an invading army. In other words, the guilty animals and not the who1.e species should be held accountable for sporadic damage. The valuable representatives of any form of wild life should be respected rather than suspected.
Fur animals are most certainly out of place in and about game-bird farms. The greater number of animals are likely to become troublesome there because food is more abundant and so easily obtainable. Under these conditions it also becomes necessary to include as vermin, so-called, many more species- that elsewhere are Hot harmful.
In certain eastern states much of the activity relating to the suppression of vermin of all sorts results from the desire to give better protection to quail. In California, however, among the owners of vineyards the quail in many places is considered a nuisance and consequently is looked upon by vine-growers as proper subjects for extermination. One grower has stated that he loses annually a thousand dollars worth of grapes by this species alone, and probably all natural enemies of poultry do not take one-tenth of that amount from him.
The supply of the so-called "vermin" fur bearers has diminished and continues to diminish rapidly. Some other causes for the decreasing supply of game, where it is decreasing, seems to be in order. Under present conditions we can not be sure of the facts, so that the best course is to play safe lest we destroy what is more valuable than what we save. Before any species of fur animal is generally condemned, extensive and protracted studies of stomach contents should be made over a wide range of territory. Fur-bearing animals are a natural resource worthy to be perpetuated, and every effort should be made to ascertain the economic status of any species before legislation is enacted for or against it.BETTER FUR LAWS AND STRICTER ENFORCEMENT
Fur is an important commercial commodity and more of it is consumed in the United States than in any other country in the world. The fur industry employs many thousands of men and women who make their living from furs and in turn contribute to the comfort of a great number of people. An industry, the finished product of which is so much in demand, scarcely needs any apology for tis existence. So far as members of the fur trade are concerned, it is unreasonable to believe that they are not interested in perpetuating a natural resource which is the backbone of their business. The National Association of the Fur Industry is on record as strongly favoring the conservation of wild life, but it insists that conservation must include fur animals. This attitude is very reasonable when we consider that trappers' license fees are used for the protection and propagation of fish and game, but that very little of the revenue so derived goes directly to the cause of fur conservation. The fur trade through its national association has approached the task of protecting and conserving the fur animals from several angles. This association is cooperating with state game and conservation commissions, sportsmen's associations, conservation societies, and with the United States Department of Agriculture.
When the demand for any commodity exceeds the supply, production is stimulated to meet the demand. The logical way to supply the demand for furs and prevent still further shrinkage in the source of supply is to produce more fur animals. The quickest and surest way to accomplish this is through the enactment of better laws and through a more strict enforcement of them. Belter laws and stricter enforcement would not only increase the quantity of fur but would greatly enhance the quality of the annual catch. Fur-bearing animals are the property of the states in which they are found, and serious responsibility rests with state game officials to cooperate with all organizations and individuals interested in maintaining the source of supply.
Many trapping laws have been made without consideration of the economic problems involved, and the majority of laws now on the statute books do little to prevent the decrease of fur bearers in certain sections of our country.
Digest Nebraska Game Laws 1927OPEN SEASONS Prairie Chicken.Oct. 1-Nov. 1 Grouse Oct. 1-Nov. 1 Pheasant No open season Quail No open season Deer No open season Squirrel Sept. 16-Dec. 31 Muskrat Nov. 16-Mar. 1 Mink Nov. 16-Mar. 1 Geese Sept. 16-Dec. 31 Duck Sept. 16-Dec. 31 Brant Sept. 16-Dec. 31 Snipe Sept. 16-Dec. 31 Rail Sept. 16-Nov. 30 Plover Sept. 16-Dec. 31 Racoon Nov. 1-Feb. 15 Opossum Nov. 1-Feb. 15 BAGS Prairie Chicken, one day 10, possession 10 Grouse, one day 10, possession 10 Pheasant, none Quail, none Deer, none Squirrel, one day 10, possession 20 Goose, one day 10, possession 10 Duck, one day 25, possession 50 Brant, one day 10, possession 10 Snipe, one day 15, possession 25 Rail, one day 15, possession 25 Plover, one day 15, possession 25 IT IS UNLAWFUL--
To use a trap, snare or net in taking game birds.
To take or destroy nests or eggs of game birds.
To hunt or kill game birds one-half hour before sunrise or after sunset.
To buy, sell or barter game birds taken within or without the state.
To offer to buy, sell, or barter game birds taken within or without the state.
For any commercial institution, commission house, restaurant or cafe keeper to have in possession any game birds protected by state law, whether killed or taken within or without the state, or lawfully or unlawfully killed.
Don't shoot waterfowl in Nebraska after December 31. is unlawful and in violation of both state and federal laws.
Spring shooting was not prohibited to rob you of your spring hunting. It was prohibited in order that you would have fall hunting in the future.
When you shoot waterfowl in the spring you are robbing yourself. You are making it impossible to preserve ducks and geese for the future. You are destroying seed that unmolested will grow an abundant crop.
When there is spring hunting in your community immediately get in touch with the game warden. Get the name, address, car number, etc., of guilty persons where possible. Do not hesitate to do this under the false impression that you are a "stool pigeon." You are simply doing your duty. If there were persons in your community stealing domestic fowls you would not hesitate to aid in their capture. Then why not aid in the capture of persons stealing your wild fowl?
Public opinion is the game warden's greatest helper in abolishing spring hunting. If a culprit knows that a community will not tolerate being robbed of their game and will aid in bringing him to justice, he is more likely to stop his depredations.
HELP SAVE NEBRASKA'S GAME!