Commission of Conservation Canada
ANIMAL SANCTUARIES IN LABRADOR
SUPPLEMENT TO AN ADDRESS PRESENTED BY LT.-COLONEL WILLIAM WOOD, F.R.S.C. Before the Second Annual Meeting of the Commission of Conservation in January, 1911
OTTAWA, JUNE 1912
Animal Sanctuaries in Labrador
SUPPLEMENT TO AN ADDRESS BY LT.-COLONEL WILLIAM WOOD OTTAWA, CANADA 1912
SUPPLEMENT TO AN ADDRESS ON Animal Sanctuaries in Labrador
LIEUT.-COLONEL WILLIAM WOOD, F.R.S.C.
The appeal prefixed to the original Address in 1911 announced the issue of the present supplement in 1912, and asked experts and other leaders of public opinion to set the subject on firm foundations by contributing advice and criticism.
The response was most gratifying. The twelve hundred review copies sent out to the Canadian press, and the hundreds more sent out to general and specialist periodicals in every part of the English-speaking world, all met with a sympathetic welcome, and were often given long and careful notices. Many scientific journals, like the Bulletin of the Zoological Society of America, sporting magazines, like the Canadian Rod and Gun, and zoophil organs, like the English Animals' Guardian, examined the Address thoroughly from their respective standpoints. The Empire Review has already reprinted it verbatim in London, and an association of outing men are now preparing to do the same in New York.
But though the press has been of the greatest service in the matter of publicity the principal additions to a knowledge of the question have come from individuals. Naturalists, sportsmen and leaders in public life have all helped both by advice and encouragement. Quotations from a number of letters are published at the end of this supplement. The most remarkable characteristic of all this private correspondence and public notice, as well as the spoken opinions of many experts, is their perfect agreement on the cardinal point that we are wantonly living like spendthrifts on the capital of our wild life, and that the general argument of the Address is, therefore, incontrovertibly true.
The gist of some of the most valuable advice is, that while the Address is true so far as it goes, its application ought to be extended to completion by including the leasehold system, side by side with the establishment of sanctuaries and the improvement and enforcement of laws.
Such an extension takes me beyond my original limits. Yet, both for the sake of completeness and because this system is a most valuable means toward the end desired by all conservers of wild life, I willingly insert leaseholds as the connecting link between laws and sanctuaries.
But before trying to give a few working suggestions on laws, leaseholds and sanctuaries, and, more particularly still, before giving any quotations from letters, I feel bound to point out again, as I did in the Address itself, that my own personality is really of no special consequence, either in giving the suggestions or receiving the letters. I have freely picked the brains of other men and simply put together the scattered parts of what ought to be a consistent whole.
It is a truism and a counsel of perfection to say so, but, to be effective, wild-life protection laws, like other laws, must be scientific, comprehensive, accepted by the public, understood by all concerned, and impartially enforced.
To be scientifically comprehensive they must define man's whole attitude towards wild life, whether for business, sport or study. One general code would suffice. A preamble could explain that the object was to use the interest, not abuse the capital of wild life. Then the noxious and beneficial kinds could be enumerated, close seasons mentioned, regulations laid down, etc. From this one code it would be easy to pick out for separate publication whatever applied only to one place or one form of human activity. But even this general code would not be enough unless the relations between animal and plant life were carefully adjusted, so that each might benefit the other, whenever possible, and neither might suffer because the other was under a different department. If, in both the Dominion and Provincial governments there are unified departments of agriculture to aid and control man's own domestic harvest, why should there not also be unified departments to aid and control his harvest of the wilds? A Minister of Fauna and Flora sounds startling, and perhaps a little absurd. But fisheries, forests and game have more to do with each other than any one of them with mines. And, whatever his designation, such a minister would have no lack of work, especially in Labrador. But here we come again to the complex human factors of three Governments and more Departments. Yet, if this bio-geographic area cannot be brought into one administrative entity, then the next best thing is concerted action on the part of all the Governments and all their Departments.
There is no time to lose. Even now, when laws themselves stop short at the Atlantic, new and adjacent areas are about to be exploited without the slightest check being put on the exploiters. An expedition is leaving New York for the Arctic. It is well found in all the implements of destruction. It will soon be followed by others. And the musk-ox, polar bears and walrus will shrink into narrower and narrower limits, when, under protection, far wider ones might easily support abundance of this big game, together with geese, duck and curlews. It is wrong to say that such people can safely have their fling for a few years more. None of the nobler forms of wild life have any chance against modern facilities of uncontrolled destruction. What happened to the great auk and the Labrador duck in the Gulf? What happened to the musk-ox in Greenland? What is happening everywhere to every form of beneficial and preservable wild life that is not being actively protected to-day? Then, there is the disappearing whale and persecuted seal to think of also in those latitudes. The laissez-faire argument is no better here than elsewhere. For if wild life is worth exploiting it must be worth conserving.
There is need, and urgent need, for extending protective laws all along the Atlantic Labrador and over the whole of the Canadian Arctic, where the barren-ground caribou may soon share the fate of the barren-ground bear in Ungava, especially if mineral exploitation sets in. Ungava and the Arctic are Dominion grounds, the Atlantic Labrador belongs to Newfoundland, Greenland to Denmark, and the open sea to all comers, among whom are many Americans. Under these circumstances the new international conference on whaling should deal effectively with the protection of all the marine carnivora, and be followed by an inter-dominion-and-provincial conference at which a joint system of conservation can be agreed upon for all the wild life of Labrador, including the cognate lands of Arctic Canada to the north and Newfoundland to the south.
This occasion should be taken to place the whole of the fauna under law; not only game, but noxious and beneficial species of every kind. And here both local experts and trained zoologists ought to be consulted. Probably everyone would agree that flies, wolves and English sparrows are noxious. But the indiscriminate destruction of all mammals and birds of prey is not a good thing, as a general rule, any more than any other complete upsetting of the balance of nature. A great deal could be learnt from the excellent work already done all over the continent with regard to the farmer's and forester's wild friends and foes. A migrating flight of curlew, snipe, plover or sandpipers is worth much more to the farmer alive than dead. But by no means every farmer knows the value of the difference.
This is only one of the many reasons why a special effort should be made to bring a knowledge of the laws home to everyone in the areas affected, including the areas crossed by the lines of migration.
The language should be unmistakeably plain. Every form of wild life should be included, as wholly, seasonally, locally or otherwise protected, or as not protected, or as exterminable, with penalties and rewards mentioned in each case. All animals should be called by their scientific, English, French, and special local names, to prevent the possibility of mistake or excuse. Every man, resident or not, who uses rod, gun, rifle, net or snare, afloat or ashore, should be obliged to take out a license, even in cases where it might be given gratis; and his receipt for it should contain his own acknowledgment that he has a copy of the laws, which he thoroughly understands. Particular clauses should be devoted to rapacious dealers who get collecting permits as scientific men, to poison, to shooting from power boats or with swivel guns, to that most diabolical engine of all murderers—the Maxim silencer,—to hounding and crusting, to egging and nefarious pluming, to illegal netting and cod-trapping, and last, but emphatically not least, to any and every form of wanton cruelty. The next step may be to provide against the misuse of aeroplanes.
I believe it would be well worth while, from every point of view, to publish the laws, or at all events a digest of them, in all the principal papers. Even educated people know little enough; and no one, even down the coast, at the trading posts, or in Newfoundland, should have the chance of pleading ignorance. "We don't know no law here" ought to be an impossible saying two years hence. And we might remember that the Newfoundlanders who chiefly use it are really no worse than others, and quite as amenable to good laws impartially enforced. They have seen the necessity of laws at home, after depleting their salmon rivers, deer runs and seal floes to the danger point. And there is no reason to suppose that an excellent population in so many ways would be any harder to deal with in this one than the hordes of poachers and sham sportsmen much nearer home.
Of course, everything ultimately turns on the enforcement of the laws. And I still think that two naturalists and twenty men afloat and the same number ashore, with double these numbers when Hudson bay and the Arctic are included, would be enough to patrol Labrador satisfactorily, if they were in touch with local and leasehold wardens and with foresters, if the telegraph was used only on their side, if they and the general inspector were all of the right kind, and if the whole service was vigorously backed up at headquarters. Two fast motor cruisers and suitable means of making the land force also as mobile as possible are sine qua non.
The Ungava peninsula, Hudson bay and Arctic together would mean a million square miles for barely a hundred men. But, with close co-operation between sea and land, they could guard the sanctuaries as efficiently as private wardens guard leased limits, watch the outlets of the trade, and harry law-breakers in the intervening spaces. Of course, the system will never be complete till the law is enforced against both buyers and sellers in the market. But it is worth enforcing, worth it in every way. And the interest of the wild life growing on a million miles will soon pay the keep of the hundred men who guard its capital.
An article by Mr. W.H. Blake, K.C., of Toronto, on "The Laurentides National Park" appeared in the February number of the University Magazine. The following extracts have been taken from Mr. Blake's manuscript:
"It was in the year 1895, that the idea took substance of setting apart some two thousand five hundred square miles of the wild and mountainous country north of Quebec and south of Lake St. John as 'a forest reservation, fish and game preserve, public park and pleasure ground'. At a later date, the area was increased, until now some three thousand seven hundred square miles are removed from sale or settlement. An important though indirect object was the maintenance of water-level in the dozen or more rivers which take their rise in the high-lying plateau forming the heart of the Park.
"When the ice takes in early November the caribou make it their great rallying ground. These animals, so wary in summer and early autumn, appear to gain confidence by their numbers, and are easily stalked and all too easily shot. It is to be feared that too great an annual toll is taken, and that the herd is being diminished by more than the amount of its natural increase. Slightly more stringent regulations, the allowance of one caribou instead of two, the forbidding of shooting in December and January, when the bulls have lost their horns, would effect the result, and would ensure excellent sport in the region so long as the Park exists and is administered as it is to-day. There is, however, very serious menace to the caribou in the unfortunate fact that the great timber wolf has at last discovered this happy hunting ground. Already it would seem that there are fewer caribou, but the marked increase in the number of moose may be one cause of this. Before the days of the Park the moose were almost exterminated throughout this region; but a few must have escaped slaughter in some inaccessible fastness, and under a careful and intelligent system of protection they have multiplied exceedingly. Man may not shoot them, and probably only unprotected calves have anything to dread from the wolves.
"In the administration of this Reserve the government adopts a policy which has shown admirable results; and as this policy is in direct contrast to the one pursued in the Algonquin Park it may be interesting to explain and discuss it. It can be admitted, as a matter of theory, that a 'public park and pleasure ground' should be maintained by the people for the people, and that no individuals should have exclusive rights conferred upon them to fish or shoot within it. This ideal conception takes no account of human nature, and a scheme that has to do with the control and conduct of men should not disregard their weaknesses, or the powerful motive of self-interest. The greater part of the Laurentide Park is free to anyone who takes out a license and complies with certain regulations. But, at the points most threatened by poachers, the practice is followed of granting five-year leases of moderate areas to individuals and to clubs. The first requirement of these grants is that the lessee shall appoint a guardian, approved by the Department, and shall cause the conceded territories to be protected in an adequate manner. The guardian, for his part, is immediately answerable to an individual who pays his salary. He contrasts his former precarious living as a trapper or poacher with the assured competence which he now earns more easily, and makes his election in favor of virtue. Thus he becomes a faithful servant both of the Government and his employer, and a really effective unit in the protection of the Park. The lessee, in turn, will neither practice nor tolerate any infringement of the laws which would imperil his lease, nor deplete of fish and game a country which he intends to revisit. He would not necessarily be actuated by these motives if he entered the Park casually and considered nothing but his own sport or pleasure. It may be added that the lessee has reasonable assurance of the extension of his privileges if they are not abused and knows that he will be compensated for moneys properly expended if the Government sees fit not to renew his term. The guardians co-operate with one another under the general guidance of a most competent inspector, and the striking increase in fish, fur and feather is apparent not only in the region immediately protected but also ouside its boundaries. Trappers who fought bitterly against being excluded from this part of the public domain now find that the overflow of wild life into the surrounding country enables them to bring more pelts to market than they did in the old days, and have become reconciled. Guardians, gillies, carters, porters and canoemen live in whole or in part, on providing fishing and shooting. Under no other arrangement could the conceded territory afford sport and a living to so many people, and in no other way could the balance between resources and their exhaustion be so nicely maintained."
On page 47, Mr. Blake corroborates the statement of the shameful act I mentioned at the bottom of page 18 of my Address. "On sighting a band of six caribou he bade his man sit down to give him a rest for his rifle. He then fired and continued firing till all were killed. When his companion made to walk towards the animals, Sir —— said to him roughly:
"'Where are you going?'
"'To cut up the caribou.'
"'... I don't want them.'"
This game murderer killed three times as many as the prescribed limit on this one occasion. Yet nothing was done to him!
However desirable they are from any point of view leaseholds are not likely to cover much of Labrador for some time to come. They should be encouraged only on condition that every lessee of every kind—sportsman, professional on land or water, lumberman or other—accepts the obligation to keep and enforce the wild-life protection laws in co-operation with the public wardens who guard the sanctuaries, watch the open areas and patrol the trade outlets.
I have very little to add to what I said about sanctuaries in the Address. Most of the information received since it was published has only emphasized the points it made. And as no one has opposed and many have supported the establishment of the Harrington sanctuary I again recommend it strongly. The 64 miles in a straight line between cape Whittle and cape Mekattina should be made into an absolute sanctuary for all birds and mammals. If some more ground can be taken in on either side, so much the better. But the 64 miles must be kept in any case. The Bird rocks and Bonaventure island, one of the Mingans, the Perroquets, Egg island and The Pilgrims, are all desirable in every way. There are plenty of islands to choose from along the Atlantic Labrador and round Hudson and James bays. It is most important to keep the migratory birds free from molestation during the first fortnight after their arrival; and the same applies to migratory mammals, though not quite in the same way. Inland sanctuaries should be made near Hamilton inlet, in the Mingan and Mistassini districts and up the Eastmain river. Ultimately an Arctic sanctuary might be made on either Baffin or Melville islands. A meteorological station in the Arctic, linked up with Labrador by wireless, would be of great benefit to the weather forecasts, as we now have no reports from where so much of our cold or mild winters are affected by the different drift of enormous ice-fields; and whenever one is established, a wild-life protection station should accompany it.
Sanctuaries should never be too big; not one tenth of the whole area will ever be required for them. But they should be placed where they will best serve the double purpose of being natural wild "zoos" and over-flowing reservoirs of wild-life. The exact situations of most, especially inland, will require a good deal of co-operative study between zoologists and other experts. But there is no doubt whatever, that they ought to be established, no matter how well the laws are enforced over both leaseholds and open areas. Civilised man is appreciating them more and more every day; and every day he is becoming better able to reach them. By giving absolute security to all desirable species in at least two different localities we can keep objects of Nature study in the best possible way both for ourselves and our posterity.
Only twelve years ago forty mills were debasing the immemorial and gigantic sequoia into mere timber in its last refuge in California. But even the general public sees now that this was a barbarous and idiotic perversion of relative values. What is a little perishable timber, for which substitutes can be found elsewhere, compared with a grove of trees that will be the wonder and delight of generations? What is the fleeting but abominable gratification of destroying the harmless lizard-like Tuatera of New Zealand compared with the deep interest of preserving it as the last living vertebrate that takes us back to Primary times? What is the momentary gratification of wearing egret feathers compared with the certainty of soon destroying the herons that produce them altogether; or what can compensate for the vile cruelty done to mutilated parent birds and starving young, or the murder of Bradley, the bird warden when trying to protect them?
The following quotations from a few of the many and wholly unsolicited letters received are arranged in alphabetical order. They are strictly verbatim:
Australia. The Animals' Protection Society. F. Montagu Rothery, Esq., Secretary, 82 Pitt Street, Sydney, New South Wales.
Here in this State our fauna and flora are both rapidly disappearing, there being so many agencies at work for their destruction. It will soon be too late to save many of our beautiful birds and animals, and I am anxious to bring under notice your words for the preservation of animals by a system of sanctuaries.
Dr. Robert Bell, late Chief Geologist, Geological Survey of Canada, who has made many explorations in Labrador and adjacent lands and waters, and who has always given special attention to the mammals, writes:
I approve very heartily of the plan. It will be a humane thing to try to protect the animals and will be very advantageous in every way. It will no doubt receive the sympathy of all classes. There will, however, be some difficulties to overcome and much work to be done before the plan gets into successful operation.... As to the location and dimensions of the sanctuary, the north side of the lower St. Lawrence is the most suitable or only region left, except where it is too far north to benefit the most of the mammals and birds which we should try to preserve. It will be desirable to reserve and protect as great a length of the shore as possible, but perhaps enough will be found between Bradore bay on the east and Great Mekattina island on the west, or this might be extended to Natashkwan. To carry it up to Mingan, it would become more and more difficult to protect the coast the further up you come. Between Mekattina island and Natashkwan, there are no attractive rivers to tempt trespassers to go inland, those which exist being difficult for canoe navigation....
The animals soon find out where they are safe and come to live in even a small area. The Algonquin park is a case in point. There the bears have increased immensely in a few years and the less noticeable mammals and birds have also increased very much. I know of a more conspicuous case of a small area, on the Nelson river, where, owing to an old-standing superstition of the Indians, the animals have not been molested for a long period and they have become much more numerous than elsewhere.... Everything that can be killed is called Game. Most of it should be called animal murder and should be discouraged.
The Sanctuary should be placed in charge of a committee of naturalists. But zoologists are scarce in Canada and those who have taken an interest in the animals might be included. Faithful men to carry out their instructions I think can be found.
The President of the Boone and Crockett Club, Major W. Austin Wadsworth, Geneseo, N.Y., wrote:
I wish to express officially the admiration of our Club for your paper on Animal Sanctuaries in Labrador, because the whole question of Game Refuges has been one of especial interest to us and we have been identified with all movements in that direction in this country.
Captain R.G. Boulton, R.N., retired, was engaged for many years on the Hydrographic Survey of the Lower St. Lawrence, the Gulf and Newfoundland. He says:
There is no doubt, as regards the conservation of birds, that sea-birds, such as gulls, &c., &c., are useful "aids to navigation," by warning the mariner of the proximity of land, on making the coast. On foggy shores, like those of Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador, they are especially useful, and it is to the advantage of the voyaging public to conserve what we have left. While carrying on the Survey of Georgian bay, and North channel of lake Huron, 1883-1893, the Bayfield, my surveying vessel, was more than once kept off the rocks in the foggy weather which prevails in May and June, by the chirping and warbling of land birds.
His Excellency the Right Hon. James Bryce, British Ambassador at Washington, who is a keen botanist and lover of the wilds, writes:
It is painfully interesting. One finds it hard to realize that such wicked waste of the gifts of Providence, and such horrible cruelty, should be going on in our time. You are doing a great service in calling attention to them and I heartily wish you success in your endeavours.
At a special meeting of the Board of Governors of the Camp-Fire Club of America, held on December 12th last, the following resolution was unanimously passed:
"Whereas, the Camp-Fire Club of America desires to express its interest in and endorsement of the plan for the establishment of Bird and Animal Sanctuaries in Labrador, outlined by Lieut.-Colonel William Wood in his address before the Commission of Conservation delivered at Quebec, in January, 1911;
"We believe that the establishment of adequate sanctuaries is one of the most potent factors in the conservation of our rapidly disappearing wild life. The Camp-Fire Club of America has taken, and is taking, an active part in the movement for the establishment of such sanctuaries in various places. We believe that such sanctuaries should be established in Labrador in the near future, while an abundance of undeveloped land is available and before the wild life has been decimated to such an extent as to make its preservation difficult;
"Be it therefore Resolved, that the Secretary convey to Colonel Wood the assurance of our hearty interest in and approval of the plan to establish adequate animal sanctuaries in Labrador, and our hope that such sanctuaries will be established in the near future."
Dr. John M. Clarke, Director, Science Division, New York State Education Department, and a gentleman acquainted with the wild life of the gulf of St. Lawrence, writes:
I have taken much interest in reading your paper. It seems to be based on an extraordinary acquaintance with the situation.
Canada is blessed with many unique natural resorts of animal life and I have been particularly impressed with the invasions that have been made on the wonderful nesting places of the waterfowl. In my repeated stays on the coast of Gaspe and the islands of the Gulf, now running over a dozen years, I have had my attention forced to the hideous sacrifices of bird life that are constantly going on; for example in the Magdalen islands with their extraordinary array of shore birds. The great lagoons within the islands afford ideal breeding conditions, and an extraordinary attraction for the hunter as well.
My observation leads me to the conviction that the shooting law is not in the least respected on these islands, except perhaps by the residents themselves. In some cases the outsider is obliged to wait for the fall migration of the ducks and geese and so comes within the law, but there are plenty of early migrants that arrive during the close season, only to be quickly picked up by the summer hunter, who realizes that he is too far away to incur the law's force.
As far as the shore birds are concerned, it is not the occasional hunter that does the real damage. The islands are becoming widely known to students of birds, and it is the bird student, the member of the Audubon Society, (in most instances, I regret to say, men of my own country) who are guilty of ruthless slaughter of the shore birds for their skins, and particularly for their eggs; all this in the protected season.
The situation is even worse on the Bird rocks. That is a protected area and yet is subject to fearful attacks from the egg hunters. I do not mean the commercial "eggers," but the member of the Audubon Society who has a collection of birds' eggs and skins and wants duplicates in order to enter into exchange with his colleagues. I met there on one of my visits an American "student" who had taken 369 clutches of eggs of each of the seven or more species of waterfowl there breeding, thus destroying at one swoop upwards of two thousand potential birds. It is no wonder that, with such a hideous desecration of the rights of the birds, the population of the Rocks is rapidly decreasing.
I believe the light-keeper is supposed to be a conservator of the birds and to prevent such uncontrolled destruction; but what can he do, a man who is practically exiled from the rest of his race for the entire year, frozen in for six months of the year? He is naturally so overjoyed at the sight of a fellow creature from the big world outside as to indulge him, whatever his collecting proclivities may be. The eggs that are taken by the occasional sailor seem to me to cut no figure at all in the actual diminution of the bird life there. That is a slender thing compared with the destruction caused by the bird students. It is a severe indictment of the ornithologist that such statements as the foregoing happen to be true.
Almost as remarkable for its number of waterfowl of the same species is the roost on the east cliffs of Bonaventure island. These have fortunately been rendered by Nature, thus far, inaccessible and the bird men have not yet found a way of getting among them. Yet, even so, there is constantly a great deal of reckless shooting at the birds simply for the sake of "stirring them up." This place is not protected by law, I believe, as a special reservation, but that might easily be brought about if the matter were placed in the hands of some responsible citizen residing on that island.
There is a happy situation in connection with the great Perce rock at Perce, on the top of which the gulls and cormorants have kept house for untold generations. These birds are a constant temptation to the men with a gun, but the Perce people are so attached to the birds that no one would ever think of killing one, except the occasional French fisherman who will eat a young gull when hard pressed. Any attempt made by outsiders to use the birds as targets is resented so strongly that even the cormorants are let live.
Your address seems to me timely and extremely pertinent. I hope your proposition may receive more than passing attention and the suggestions therein be made effective, for they certainly aim to maintain the natural attractions and the natural resources of the country.
Mr. Napoleon A. Comeau, author of Life and Sport on the North Shore, and one who has had fifty years' practical experience within the Labrador area, writes from Godbout River, Que.:
I trust your good work will be crowned with success. A lot of good has already been accomplished by the spreading of literature on this subject by the Audubon Society, the A.O.U. and others, but much remains to be accomplished. It has always been my aim in this section to prevent wanton destruction of all kinds and I am glad to say I have had considerable success in educating our younger generation here. Small birds of all kinds used to be wantonly killed by boys, a thing I rarely see now—it was the same in the other ways by men—but I must say that real trappers or Indians are not the worst by any means. These men will kill at all times and seasons but only through necessity; strangers and so-called sportsmen are generally the offenders. I have been a trapper myself for years, a professional, but had been taught never to kill wantonly.... Of course, much study and care must be exercised in preserving species of birds and animals from destruction, or else, as you say, mistakes may be made. There are species of such that are destructive to others when allowed to increase beyond certain limits, and it takes a very short time to do that in some cases.... About three years ago, ruffed grouse were so scarce everywhere that I have travelled hundreds of miles without seeing one. They were protected by law, which no doubt did much near the densely populated sections, but as far as our coast was concerned did absolutely nothing because Indians and trappers shot them on sight for food. Last year there were a few seen here and there and all at once, during the present season, there are thousands. Hundreds have been shot and they are reported abundant all over. I imagine this must be due to particularly favourable weather conditions and the immense number of foxes trapped last winter. There is also this fall, an extraordinary number of muskrats—they are swarming everywhere, even in totally, unfavourable localities, doing much damage in some places. What is the cause of this? Presumably it must be through some cause decreasing the number of their enemies. This is why I think much care must be taken before any steps are taken to protect certain species. Some still hold their own against all odds.
His Royal Highness the Duke of Connaught, Governor General of Canada, acknowledged the receipt of the Address from Balmoral Castle in September, granted an interview at Ottawa in December, and authorized the use of his name to show his sympathy with the movement.
Dr. W.T. Grenfell has a long and most intimate knowledge of the Atlantic Labrador. He writes:
The matters of animal preservation which interest me most are: The rapid decline in numbers of harp seals which we Northern people can get for our boots and clothing. This food and clothing supply, formerly readily obtainable all along the Labrador, helped greatly to maintain in comfort our scattered population. It is scarcely now worth while putting out seal nets. We attribute this to the destruction of seals at the time of their whelping, by steamers which are ever growing larger and more numerous. No mammal, producing but one offspring can long survive this.
Along the Labrador coast east of the Canadian border, birds are destroyed on sight and nests robbed wherever found. The laws are a dead letter because there is no one to enforce them.
There is great need also for scientific inquiry with regard to the fisheries—the herring and mackerel are apparently gone, the salmon are getting scarcer, and the cod fisheries have been failing perceptibly these past years. Yet there is no practical effort made to discover the reason and obviate it.
On the 9th of September, 1911, Earl Grey made the following entry in the visitors' book at La Roche:
I desire to thank the provincial government of Quebec for having given me the opportunity of visiting, as their guest, the Laurentides National Park, and to acknowledge the great pleasure which I have derived from all I have seen and done.... I would also like to congratulate them on the wisdom of their policy in establishing so large a reserve, as a protection for various breeds of wild animals which would otherwise be in danger of extinction, and as a place of rest, refreshment, and recreation for those who love the quiet of the wilds.
Mr. George Bird Grinnell, one of the greatest authorities in the world on the Indian and wild life of North America, writes:
I have recently read with extraordinary interest your address, presented last January to the Commission of Conservation....
I wish to offer you my personal thanks for the effective way in which you have set forth the desirability of establishing wild-life refuges in Labrador, and I trust that what you have said will start a movement in Canada to carry out this good project. It has long interested me to know that your people and their officials seem much more farseeing than those on this side of the line, and Canada's show of national parks and reservations is far more creditable than that of her neighbour to the south.
Dr. H. Mather Hare, who does on the Canadian Labrador what Dr. Grenfell does on the Newfoundland or Atlantic Labrador, and whose headquarters are at Harrington, where the first coast sanctuary ought to be established at the earliest possible moment, says:
May I make a suggestion? The fishermen coming here from Nova Scotia and Newfoundland do not believe there is really a law against egging and shooting. They say it is a put-up job by the people living on the coast, because they want all the eggs and birds themselves. This being the case, would it not be a good idea to have a notice in several of the Nova Scotia and Newfoundland papers warning the fishermen against breaking the law, and in this way putting the interdiction on a legal footing; so they may understand that it is not a mere bluff on the part of the people living on the coast. So far there has been nothing but talk, and nothing official; no arrest made, etc., so one can hardly blame them for the position they take, especially as they have been doing the same thing for many years.
The notice should be very clear and penalties set forth plainly.
Mr. W.T. Lindsay, M.E., who has travelled thousands of miles through Labrador, writes:
I have spent two summers in the north eastern wilderness of Quebec and can fully appreciate your suggestions.
I take the liberty of sending you a copy of an "interview" by the Montreal Witness upon my return in 1909, by which you will see that I am in accord with your views, i.e., unless the Government takes immediate steps to protect the wild animals in the Province of Quebec, many of them will become extinct....
I would suggest that the Commission of Conservation make a close investigation of the ways and means of the fur traders along the north shore, and I believe that official, unbiassed and independent investigation will expose a very peculiar state of affairs in connection with the mal-conservation of game.
Mr. Clive Phillips-Wolley, the well known authority on big-game sport, writes from Koksilah, Nanaimo, B.C., Canada:
... of course I agree with your views: we have in this Province been doing our best to put them in practice with the most excellent results. Dr. W.T. Hornaday stirred us up, and, though we did not put our sanctuaries exactly where he suggested we took a hint from him and have been rewarded by an extraordinary increase in big-horns, wapiti and other big game. I, of course, have shot a great deal as a big game hunter, but, thank God, I don't remember one wanton kill, and I know I have not killed one per cent. of the beasts I might have done. No one wants to....
The Hon. Theodore Roosevelt, ex-President of the United States, writes:
I desire to extend my most earnest good wishes and congratulations to the Commission of Conservation of Canada. Your address on the need of animal sanctuaries in Labrador must appeal, it seems to me, to every civilized man. The great naturalist, Alfred Russell Wallace, in his book, "The World of Life," recently published, says that all who profess religion, or sincerely believe in the Deity, the designer and maker of this world and of every living thing, as well as all lovers of Nature, should treat the wanton and brutal destruction of living things and of forests as among the first of forbidden sins. In his own words, "All the works of Nature, animate or inanimate, should be invested with a certain sanctity, to be used by us but not abused, and never to be recklessly destroyed or defaced. To pollute a spring or a river, to exterminate a bird or a beast, should be treated as moral offences and as social crimes. Never before has there been such widespread ravage of the earth's surface by the destruction of vegetation, and with it, animal life, and such wholesale defacement of the earth. The nineteenth century saw the rise and development and culmination of these crimes against God and man. Let us hope that the twentieth century will see the rise of a truer religion, a purer Christianity." I have condensed what Mr. Wallace said because it is too long to quote in full. He shows that this wanton and brutal defacement of Nature, this annihilation of the natural resources that should be part of the National capital of our children and children's children, this destruction of so much that is beautiful and grand, goes hand in hand with the sordid selfishness which is responsible for so very much of the misery of our civilization. The movement for the conservation of our natural resources, for the protection of our forests and of the wild life of the woods, the mountains and the coasts, is essentially a democratic movement. Democracy, in its essence, means that a few people shall not be allowed for their own selfish gratification, to destroy what ought to belong to the people as a whole. The men who destroy our forests for their own immediate pecuniary benefit, the men who make a lifeless desert of what were once coasts teeming with a wonderfully varied bird life, these, whether rich or poor, and their fellows in destruction of every type, are robbing the whole people, are robbing the citizens of the future of their natural rights. Over most of the United States, over all of South Africa and large portions of Canada, this destruction was permitted to go on to the bitter end. It is late now, but it is not too late for us to put a stop to the process elsewhere. What is being done in Labrador is substantially what was done, and is still, in places, being done in Florida. A resolute effort is now being made by the Audubon Societies, and all kindred organizations, to stop the waste in the United States. Great good can be done by this effort, for there is still very much left to save in the United States. But there is very much more left to save in Canada. Canada has taken the lead in many matters of far-reaching importance to the future welfare of mankind, and has taught other nations much. She can teach no more important lesson to other nations, and incidentally, she can benefit herself in no more striking way, than by resolutely setting to work to preserve her forests, and the strange and beautiful wild creatures, both beasts and birds, of her forests and her sea-coasts. Labrador offers one of the best of all possible fields for such work. The forests, the wild beasts and wild birds of Labrador can be kept perpetually as one of the great assets of Canada; or they can he destroyed in a spirit of brutal and careless vandalism, with no permanent benefit to anyone, and with the effect of ruining the country and preventing its ever becoming what it otherwise would become. The economic argument is by no means the only argument, and, in my eyes, is hardly the most important argument for preserving the forests and wild life of Labrador, as your Commission desires to preserve them, but it is in itself so important that, even though there were no other reason to be adduced, it would amply warrant the taking of the action you recommend. I extend you my warmest good wishes for the success of your movement.
Mr. Ernest Thompson Seton writes:
... your most interesting and convincing address on Animal Sanctuaries in Labrador. You certainly have hit the nail on the head. It is now demonstrated by experiments in many parts of the world that the only sure way to preserve indefinitely a supply of wild animals is by giving them well-placed, well-selected sanctuaries, wherein at all seasons they are safe. I am delighted to know that you are taking up this important matter with such vigor.
South Africa. Major Hamilton, Superintendent, Transvaal Government Game Reserves, Koomatipoort, says:
I have been much interested in reading Col. Wood's address. They seem to have the same difficulties to contend with there as we have here, i.e., ignorance and apathy of the public, and active opposition from those with axes to grind.
Major Hamilton encloses the Regulations under Section 4 of the Game Preservation Ordinance, 1905, (C)—Reserves. By these it appears that "owners of private land situate in a Reserve or persons having the permission in writing of such owners shall have free access to every part of such land." But routes of access in the Reserve generally are exactly defined and must be followed. Penalties up to L50 may be imposed for the infraction of any one of six different clauses. Major Hamilton also says:
The Game Sanctuaries of the Transvaal stretch along the eastern border of the Province for a length of 250 miles with an average breadth of 50 miles.
They are in charge of a Warden under whom are six Rangers. Five of these Rangers are in charge of each of one of the five areas into which the Reserves are divided, four for the Sabi Reserve and one for the Singwitsi Reserve, and each has at his disposal a force of 12 native rangers or police. The sixth Ranger is specially employed in the capture of live animals for zoological purposes, the destruction of vermin and for any emergency duty which may arise. His headquarters are, therefore, within easy reach of the Warden.
The Warden has, further, in the districts included in the Game Reserve, the powers of a Resident Justice of the Peace, a Sub Native Commissioner, and a Customs Officer, while the Rangers, white and native, have the full powers and duties of police. The area is therefore quite self-contained, and at the Warden's headquarters, are police barracks, court house and lock-up, and a post of the Transvaal police in charge of a corporal is permanently stationed there. The special by-laws which are enforced are set forth in the attached slip. There are about 4,000 natives, all told, resident within the area. Most of them have been admitted as residents on condition of their giving assistance to the staff, and hold their tenure conditionally on their behaviour. This system has been found to work admirably, for, while practically no harm is done by these residents, very considerable assistance has been obtained from them in detecting poachers.
All carnivorous mammals are treated as vermin and are systematically destroyed.
No shooting or hunting of any kind is permitted in the Reserve, and in fact members of the public except on special permit are not allowed to carry firearms or to leave certain main tracks.
The species of game mammals found are as follows: Elephant, rhinoceros, hippopotamus, giraffe, buffalo, zebra, sable and roan antelope, kudu, water buck, blue wilde-beest, impalla, reed buck, bush-buck, steenbok, duiker, klipspringer, mountain reed buck, red duiker.
Of game birds there are: five kinds of francolin, two kinds of knorhaan, sand grouse, quail and crested paauw.
The most destructive of the carnivora are lions, leopards, chitas, hunting dogs, caracals and servals.
Baboons, porcupines, &c., being destructive in various ways, are considered to be vermin.
Vermin have perceptibly decreased during the last few years, in spite of the fact that the game has increased at the rate of fully 10 per cent, per annum.
About 1,500 head of vermin, on an average, are destroyed annually. The figures for 1910 included 21 lions, 24 leopards, 31 wild dogs, &c., the balance being made up of chetahs, caracals, servals, civets, genets, wild cats, hyenas, jackals, otters, baboons, crocodiles, pythons and birds of prey.
There were 133 prosecutions for infringement of the regulations, all against natives.
Dr. Charles W. Townsend, Boston, Mass., an eminent ornithologist, says:
I have just read with much interest your Address on Animal Sanctuaries in Labrador, and wish to tell you how fully I agree with you, not only as to the importance of stopping the destruction in Labrador before it is too late, but also in the value of animal sanctuaries in general and of Labrador in particular. I sincerely hope you will succeed in your good work.
In the Birds of Labrador, 1907, Boston Society of Natural History, by Mr. Glover, Mr. Allen and myself, we called especial attention to the great destruction of life that has gone on and is still going on there, and we suggested the protection of the eiders for their down, as is done in Norway, instead of their extermination, the present course.
Commander W. Wakeham, of the Department of Marine, says:
No one can question the desirability of having certain areas set apart, where wild animals may find asylum, and rest....
A few years ago, from some unusual cause, the woodland caribou, in great numbers, visited that part of Labrador, east of Forteau, and along down as far as St. Charles. A large number were there killed by the white settlers—but this was a solitary, and exceptional year. The Indians who hunt in the interior of Labrador undoubtedly do kill a large number of these caribou; but, when we consider the great extent of country over which these deer migrate, compared with the comparatively small number of Indians—and there is a steadily decreasing number—I can hardly believe that there is much fear of their ever exterminating these deer. Then, could we possibly prevent these Indians from hunting the deer wherever they meet them? I hardly think we could. The barren-ground caribou are not hunted to any extent by whites. During the month of August, the Eskimo of the Ungava peninsula, as well as those in Baffin island, resort to certain fords, or narrows where these caribou usually pass at the beginning of the fall migration. They kill considerable numbers—rather for the skins as clothing, than for food. But the Eskimo are few in number, and I cannot conceive that there is any fear of these caribou ever being greatly reduced in number by these native hunters. Any one who has ever met a herd of barren-ground caribou, and seen the countless thousands of them, could hardly conceive of their ever being exterminated. Nor would they be if we had to deal only with the native hunters. But, with our experience of what happened to the buffalo when the white man took up the slaughter, we must take precaution in time.
Up to the present, very few white men have penetrated any distance into the interior of the Labrador peninsula, and I do not see that they are very likely to, in the near future. But we never can tell. A few years ago we would have said the same of the Yukon region, so that it would be a wise precaution to have set apart a considerable section of the Labrador, in the interior, as a sanctuary.... It would perhaps be better to have two regions set apart, one near the Saguenay country and another nearer the Atlantic coast. We have, however, to consider the fact that sanctuaries will be of no value unless they are well guarded.
In the case of the birds the conditions are bad; the destruction on the Labrador is horrible to contemplate. The outer islands were scoured by crews from foreign vessels, and whole loads of eggs carried off. There has not been much of this done in recent years. There can he no doubt that, if certain of the larger and less inhabited islands were set apart, and carefully protected, the birds would return to them. I believe that owing to the constant way in which the birds—eider ducks, certain of the divers, gulls, &c., were disturbed, on their natural and original nesting places, they have changed their habits; and, instead of nesting on the islands and by the sea, they have moved to the shores of the interior lakes. You see flocks of young birds in the fall; they have come from the interior, as they were not hatched out on the islands as they used to be.
The destruction of geese and curlew does not take place on the Labrador. These birds are not disturbed on their nesting grounds; but, to the south and west when they are passing to their winter haunts. Geese are found feeding on the hill-sides, on the most distant and northern islands—as far north as any of our explorers have gone. The first birds Sverdrup met as he was coming south, in the early spring, were wild geese. These birds are not disturbed on their breeding grounds. The Eskimo do not meddle with them. In the same way caribou are found feeding about the shores of Hudson bay and strait. Like the geese, they feed on berries about the hill sides. I have shot them at the mouth of Churchill river, and near cape Digges in August, when they were very fat—so fat that it is said that, on falling on hard ground, they would burst open; though this did not actually happen in my case. I certainly think that it would be a grand thing to have certain groups of islands—or even certain sections of coast—set apart as bird sanctuaries.
Your paper deals entirely with conditions in Labrador. There is, however, another part of the Gulf coast, where the need of protection is much greater than on the Labrador. That is the interior of the Gaspe peninsula. A certain region in the interior has been set aside as a park, but it is quite unprotected. Here, we have moose, woodland caribou and the red deer, besides nearly all the fur-bearing animals that we find on the Labrador. There is no game protection whatever. Moose and caribou are killed mostly out of season—when they are yarded, or when it is easy to run them down. In many cases the meat is left in the woods, the hide only being wanted. Lumbermen are penetrating up the rivers, further into the interior—every lumber camp is a centre from which the game laws are persistently violated.... the game, both fur and feather, (particularly the ruffled grouse) is rapidly disappearing before their pitiless onslaughts. Lumber camps are opened much earlier in the season than they used to be; so that the interior lakes and head waters of the rivers are being cleaned out of fish taken while in the act of spawning. All this may seem very strong language; but it is really not exaggerated. It may help to show the need of more and better conservation....
Mr. Alfred Russell Wallace, the founder and exponent of the science of zoo-geography, writes:
... your address on "Animal Sanctuaries" in Labrador, which I have read with the greatest interest and astonishment. Such reckless destruction I should hardly have thought possible.
There is a considerable public opinion now against the use of feathers as ornaments[A] because it inevitably leads to the extermination of some of the most beautiful of living things; but I think the attempts to stop it by legal enactments begin at the wrong end. They seek to punish the actual collectors or importers of the plumes, who are really the least guilty and the most difficult to get at. It is the actual wearers of such ornaments who should be subject to fines or even imprisonment, because, without the demand they make there would be no supply. They also are, presumably, the most educated and should know better. If it were known that any lady with a feather in her hat (or elsewhere) would be taken before a magistrate and fined, and, on a second offence, imprisoned, and if this were the case in the chief civilized countries of Europe and America, the whole trade would at once cease and the poor birds be left in peace.
You have, however, treated the subject very carefully and thoroughly, and I hope your views will be soon carried out....
I am glad to hear that Mr. Roosevelt is a reader of the "World of Life." My own interest is more especially in the preservation of adequate areas of the glorious tropical and equatorial forests, with their teeming and marvellous forms of life.
Numerous other letters from all parts of the world expressing appreciation of the Address have been received, the correspondents expressing strong approval of the effort to establish Animal Sanctuaries in Labrador. The names of some of the correspondents are given herewith:
Sir Robert Baden-Powell, London; Prof. H.T. Barnes, Montreal; Julien Corbett, London; Rudyard Kipling; Lord Stamfordham, London; Sir James LeMoine, Quebec; J.M. Macoun, Ottawa; Henry F. Osborn, New York; Madison Grant, New York.
Note.—As a postscript I might add that the owner of part of a very desirable little archipelago, not far from the Saguenay, has already offered to give the property outright if a suitable sanctuary can be made out of the whole. This is all the more encouraging because such a gift involves the refusal of an offer from a speculative purchaser. May others be moved to do the same!
[Footnote A: Mr. Wallace refers to feathers like egrets, not the permissable kinds, like ostrich plumes.]