Trapping the Valuable Ermine: The Best Skins of a Small Animal Worth Double Their Wight in Gold, Daily Racing Form, 1919-02-03


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t f i TRAPPING THE VALUABLE ERMINE The Best Skins of a Small Animal Worth Double Their Weight in Gold. Size considered, the fur of the ermine, next to silver fox, is of greater value than any other kind. Skins grading "number one" sell for more than double their weight in gold. Before the war the larger part of these went to the royal houses of Europe, Russia in particular, although American millionaires were bidding against the princes of the old world and securing ninny fine skins. The year before the war liegan one large dealer marketed 274,800 ermine skins and it is probable the entire ; amount sold that season whs over 500,000, perhaps reaching 000,000. Many failed to attain the high i standard set by royalty, and the lower grades predominated. An ermine is a little animal belonging to the i weasel family, being, when fully grown, only four- teen inches from its sharp nose to the black tip i of its tail and, like all members of that family, is ? vicious ill the extreme, killing, if opportunity offers s after its hunger is satisfied, for the sake- of kill-I ing. It can "swim" under snow faster than a i mole burrows through the -earth; more speedily than i a mink swims under water, and by this means in i the areties often approaches a flock of ptarmigans, , many of which it kills before the birds realize their danger. The winter fur of the ermine in the extreme north i is pure white except for the tip of its tail. In the United States white gives place to brown for nearly the entire year, the exception Iwing during severe winters when along the Canadian boundary the land is snow covered. These American skins are not nearly ns valuable as those from the far north, seldom selling for as much as a dollar each. Naturally in the arctics much money is made trapping these white weasels, although until of late years the fur companies, at least as far as the Indians were concerned, got all the profit, their rate of trade being something like this: For one beaver skin, that being the unit on which all fur values were based, was given a" single red bandana handkerchief or a small looking glass. It took two for the purchase of an ax and twenty for a rifle. Snares made of wire or twine are used instead of steel traps unless the ermine is young, when its fine fur is easily damaged. A trapper caii tell by the length of its bounds in the snow almost the exact age of the animal he is following. If satisfied it is fully matured and the hair coarse, a snare is set. If its leaps are short and the footprints small, then it is young, of considerable extra value and the fur so fine and the skin so tender that no chance of injury must be taken, in which case another and cruel method is used. The trapper takes an ax, hatchet or any weighty piece of iron, smears it With grease and places it beside the ermines runway. The little animal comes skipping along. Presently its sharp sense of smell gets a faint scent of the .grease, which Is soon located. The severe cold has coated the metal with crystals of frost. Anyone who has lived in a cold climate knows how flesh will adhere to frost charged iron. It is the same in this case. The ermine starts to lick off the grease, its lips and tongue stick to the metal and it is held fast until the trapper returns and puts it out of misery. And this suffering conies that kings autl queens, the rich of the earth, may ba served.

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