Part 4 out of 11
Unfortunately, a lot of white farmers were in the same range as the
blacks, and being hit, too, they raised a great outcry. The result
was that the Alabama sportsmen got everything they asked for except
the foundation of the structure they were trying to build, the high
resident license or gun tax which alone could have shut out three
dollar guns and saved the remnant of the game. Under the new law the
sale of game was forbidden, neither could it be shipped out of the
State alive or dead; the ever popular non-resident license was
provided for; the season was shortened and the bag limited; the
office of State game warden was created with deputies to be paid
from fines; hunting upon the lands of another without written
permission became a misdemeanor; and then the whole thing was
nullified by reducing the resident license to nothing where a man
shot upon his own land, one dollar in his own county, and two
dollars outside of it. In its practical workings the new law amounts
to this: A few northern gunners have paid the non-resident license
fee, and enough resident licenses have been taken out by the city
sportsmen to make up the handsome salary of the State warden. The
negro still hunts upon his own land _or upon the land of the man who
wants corn and cotton raised_, with perfect indifference to the
whole thing. Who was to enforce the law against him? Not the one
disgusted deputy with three big counties to patrol who depended for
his salary upon the fines collected from the negroes. It would take
one man to every three miles square to protect the game in the
The one effective way of dealing with the situation in Alabama was
to have legislated three dollar guns out of existence with a five
dollar tax, adding to this nearly a like amount on dogs. Hardly a
sportsman in the South will disagree with this conclusion. But
sportsmen never had a majority vote either in the South or in the
North, and the South's grave problem is yet unsolved.
I do not favor depriving the black man of his natural human right to
hunt and shoot. If he is the owner of land, or if he leases or rents
it, or if he does not, he should have exactly the same privilege of
hunting that the white man has. That is not the question now,
however, but how to restrict him to legal shooting, to make him
amenable to the law that governs the white man, to deprive him of
the absolute license he now enjoys to kill throughout the year
without mercy, without discrimination, without restraint. If only
for selfish reasons, we of the North should reach to southern
sportsmen a helping hand, for by and by the last of our migratory
song birds will go down into Dixie and never return.
* * * * *
Mr. Askins has fairly stated a profoundly disturbing case. The remedy
must contain at least three ingredients. The sportsmen of the South must
stop the unjustifiable slaughter of their non-migratory game birds. As a
matter of comity between states, the gentlemen of the South must pass
laws to stop the killing of northern song-birds and all crop-protecting
birds, for food. Finally, all men, North and South, East and West, must
unite in the work that is necessary to secure the immediate enactment by
Congress of a law for the federal protection of all migratory birds.
* * * * *
EXTERMINATION OF BIRDS FOR WOMEN'S HATS[D]
[Footnote D: In the preparation of this chapter and its illustrations, I
have had much valuable assistance from Mr. C. William Beebe, who
recently has probed the London feather trade almost to the bottom.]
It is high time for the whole civilized world to know that many of the
most beautiful and remarkable birds of the world are now being
_exterminated_ to furnish millinery ornaments for women's wear. The mass
of new information that we have recently secured on this traffic from
the headquarters of the feather trade is appalling. Previously, I had
not dreamed that conditions are half as bad as they are.
It is entirely fitting that on this subject New York should send a
message to London. New York is almost a Spotless Town in plume-free
millinery, and London and Paris are the worst places in the world. We
have cleaned house. With but extremely slight exceptions, the blood of
the slaughtered innocents is no longer upon our skirts, and on the
subject of plumage millinery we have a right to be just as Pharisaical
as we choose.
Here in New York (and also in New Jersey) no man may sell, own for sale
or offer for sale the plumage of any wild American bird other than a
game bird. More than that, the plumage of no foreign bird belonging to
any bird family represented in the fauna of North America can be sold
here! There are only a few kinds of improper "millinery" feathers that
it is possible to sell here under the law. Thanks to the long and
arduous campaign of the National Association of Audubon Societies,
founded and for ten years directed by gallant William Dutcher, you now
see on the streets of New York very, very little wild-bird plumage save
that from game birds.
It is true that a few servant girls are now wearing the cast-off
aigrettes of their mistresses; but they are only as one in a thousand.
At Atlantic City there is said to be a fine display of servant-girl and
ladies-maid aigrettes. In New York and New Jersey, in Pennsylvania for
everything save the sale of heron and egret plumes (a privilege obtained
by a bunko game), in Massachusetts, and in many other of our States, the
wild-birds'-plumage millinery business is dead. Two years ago, when the
New York legislature refused to repeal the Dutcher law, the Millinery
Association asserted, and brought a cloud of witnesses to Albany to
prove, that the enforcement of the law would throw thousands of
operatives out of employment.
[Illustration: BEAUTIFUL AND CURIOUS BIRDS NOW BEING DESTROYED
FOR THE FEATHER TRADE--(I)
Victoria Crowned Pigeon
Greater Bird of Paradise
Cock of the Rock]
The law is in effect; and the aigrette business is dead in this state.
Have any operatives starved, or been thrown out of employment? We have
heard of none. They are now at work making very pretty hat ornaments of
silk and ribbons, and gauze and lace; and "_They_ are wearing them."
[Illustration: 1600 HUMMINGBIRD SKINS AT 2 CENTS EACH!
Part of Lot Purchased by the Zoological Society at the Regular Quarterly
London Millinery Feather Sale, August, 1912.]
But even while these words are being written, there is one large fly in
the ointment. The store-window of E. &. S. Meyers, 688 Broadway, New
York, contains about _six hundred plumes and skins of birds of paradise
for sale for millinery purposes_. No wonder the great bird of paradise
is now almost extinct! Their sale here is possible because the Dutcher
law protects from the feather dealers only the birds that belong to
avian families represented in the United States. With fiendish cunning
and enterprise, the shameless feather dealers are ferreting out the
birds whose skins and plumes may legally be imported into this country
and sold; but we will meet that with a law that will protect all
foreign birds, so far as we are concerned. Now it is time for the
universal enactment of a law which will prohibit the sale and use as
ornaments of the plumage, feathers or skins of _any_ wild bird that is
not a legitimate game bird.
London is now the head of the giant octopus of the "feather trade" that
has reached out its deadly tentacles into the most remote wildernesses
of the earth, and steadily is drawing in the "skins" and "plumes" and
"quills" of the most beautiful and most interesting _unprotected_ birds
of the world. The extent of this cold-blooded industry, supported by
vain and hard-hearted women, will presently be shown in detail. Paris is
the great manufacturing center of feather trimming and ornaments, and
the French people obstinately refuse to protect the birds from
extermination, because their slaughter affords employment to a certain
numbers of French factory operatives.
All over the world where they have real estate possessions, the men of
England know how to protect game from extermination. The English are
good at protecting game--when they decide to set about it.
Why should London be the Mecca of the feather-killers of the world?
It is easily explained:
(1) London has the greatest feather market in the world; (2) the feather
industry "wants the money"; and (3) the London feather industry is
willing to spend money in fighting to retain its strangle-hold on the
unprotected birds of the world.
Let us run through a small portion of the mass of fresh evidence before
us. It will be easier for the friends of birds to read these details
here than to procure them at first hand, as we have done.
The first thing that strikes one is the fact that the feather-hunters
are scattered _all over the world where bird life is plentiful_ and
there are no laws to hinder their work. I commend to every friend of
birds this list of the species whose plumage is to-day being bought and
sold in large quantities every year in London. To the birds of the world
this list is of deadly import, for it spells extermination.
The reader will notice that it is the way of the millinery octopus to
reach out to the uttermost ends of the earth, and take everything that
it can use. From the trackless jungles of New Guinea, round the world
both ways to the snow-capped peaks of the Andes, no unprotected bird is
safe. The humming-birds of Brazil, the egrets of the world at large, the
rare birds of paradise, the toucan, the eagle, the condor and the emu,
all are being _exterminated_ to swell the annual profits of the
millinery trade. The case is _far_ more serious than the world at large
knows, or even suspects. But for the profits, the birds would be safe;
and no unprotected wild species can long escape the hounds of Commerce.
But behold the list of rare, curious and beautiful birds that are today
in grave peril:
[Illustration: BEAUTIFUL AND CURIOUS BIRDS NOW BEING DESTROYED
FOR THE FEATHER TRADE--(II)
* * * * *
LIST OF BIRDS NOW BEING EXTERMINATED FOR THE LONDON AND CONTINENTAL
American Egret Venezuela, S. America, Mexico, etc.
Snowy Egret Venezuela, S. America, Mexico, etc.
Scarlet Ibis Tropical South America.
"Green" Ibis Species not recognizable by its trade name.
Herons, generally All unprotected regions.
Marabou Stork Africa.
Pelicans, all species All unprotected regions.
Bustard Southern Asia, Africa.
Greater Bird of Paradise New Guinea; Aru Islands.
Lesser Bird of Paradise New Guinea.
Red Bird of Paradise Islands of Waigiou and Batanta.
Twelve-Wired Bird of Paradise New Guinea, Salwatti.
Black Bird of Paradise Northern New Guinea.
Rifle Bird of Paradise New Guinea generally.
Jobi Bird of Paradise Island of Jobi.
King Bird of Paradise New Guinea.
Magnificent Bird of Paradise New Guinea.
Impeyan Pheasant Nepal and India.
Tragopan Pheasant Nepal and India.
Argus Pheasant Malay Peninsula, Borneo.
Silver Pheasant Burma and China.
Golden Pheasant China.
Jungle Cock East Indies and Burma.
Peacock East Indies and India.
Condor South America.
Vultures, generally Where not protected.
Eagles, generally All unprotected regions.
Hawks, generally All unprotected regions.
Crowned Pigeon, two species New Guinea.
"Choncas" Locality unknown.
Pitta East Indies.
Touracou, or Plantain-Eater Africa.
Velvet Birds Locality uncertain.
"Grives" Locality uncertain.
Mannikin South America.
Green Parrot (now protected) India.
"Dominos" (Sooty Tern) Tropical Coasts and Islands.
Garnet Tanager South America.
Grebe All unprotected regions.
Green Merle Locality uncertain.
"Horphang" Locality uncertain.
Rhea South America.
"Sixplet" Locality uncertain.
Tetras Locality not determined.
Emerald-Breasted Hummingbird West Indies, Cent, and S. America.
Blue-Throated Hummingbird West Indies, Cent, and S. America.
Amethyst Hummingbird West Indies, Cent, and S. America.
Resplendent Trogon, several species Central America.
Cock-of-the-Rock South America.
Macaw South America.
Toucan South America.
Sun-Bird East Indies.
Owl All unprotected regions.
Kingfisher All unprotected regions.
Jabiru Stork South America.
Albatross All unprotected regions.
Tern, all species All unprotected regions.
Gull, all species All unprotected regions.
* * * * *
In order to throw a spot-light on the most recent transactions in the
London wild-birds'-plumage market, and to furnish a clear idea of what
is to-day going on in London, Paris, Berlin and Amsterdam, I will set
out in some detail the report of an agent whom I engaged to ascertain
the London dealings in the plumage of wild birds that were killed
especially to furnish that plumage. As one item, let us take the sales
in London in February, May and October, 1911, because they bring the
subject well down to date. My agent's explanatory note is as follows:
"These three sales represent six months. Very nearly double this
quantity is sold by these four firms in a year. We must also take into
consideration that all the feathers are not brought to the London
market, and that _very large shipments are also made direct to the
raw-feather dealers and manufacturers of Paris and Berlin, and that
Amsterdam also gets large quantities from the West Indies_. For your
purpose, I report upon three sales, at different periods of the year
1911, and as those sales do not vary much, you will be able to judge the
consumption of birds in a year."
The "aigrettes" of the feather trade come from egrets, and, being very
light, it requires the death of several birds to yield one ounce. In
many catalogues, the word "albatross" stands for the jabiru, a
nearly-exterminated species of giant stork, inhabiting South America.
"Rhea" often stands for vulture plumage.
If the feather dealers had deliberately attempted to form an educational
list of the most beautiful and the most interesting birds of the world,
they could hardly have done better than they have done in the above
list. If it were in my power to show the reader a colored plate of each
species now being exterminated by the feather trade, he would be
startled by the exhibit. That the very choicest birds of the whole avian
world should be thus blotted out at the behest of vain and heartless
women is a shame, a disgrace and world-wide loss.
* * * * *
LONDON FEATHER SALE OF FEBRUARY, 1911
_Sold by Hale & Sons Sold by Dalton & Young_
Aigrettes 3,069 ounces Aigrettes 1,606 ounces
Herons 960 " Herons 250 "
Birds of Paradise 1,920 skins Paradise 4,330 bodies
_Sold by Figgis & Co. Sold by Lewis & Peat_
Aigrettes 421 ounces Aigrettes 1,250 ounces
Herons 103 " Paradise 362 skins
Paradise 414 skins Eagles 384 "
Eagles 2,600 " Trogons 206 "
Condors 1,580 " Hummingbirds 24,800 "
Bustards 2,400 "
LONDON FEATHER SALE OF MAY, 1911
_Sold by Hale & Sons Sold by Dalton & Young_
Aigrettes 1,390 ounces Aigrettes 2,921 ounces
Herons 178 " Herons 254 "
Paradise 1,686 skins Paradise 5,303 skins
Red Ibis 868 " Golden Pheasants 1,000 "
Junglecocks 1,550 "
Parrots 1,700 "
Herons 500 "
_Sold by Figgis & Co. Sold by Lewis & Peat_
Aigrettes 201 ounces Aigrettes 590 ounces
Herons 248 " Herons 190 "
Paradise 546 skins Paradise 60 skins
Falcons, Hawks 1,500 " Trogons 348 "
Hummingbirds 6,250 "
LONDON FEATHER SALE OF OCTOBER, 1911
_Sold by Hale & Sons Sold by Dalton & Young_
Aigrettes 1,020 ounces Aigrettes 5,879 ounces
Paradise 2,209 skins Heron 1,608 "
Hummingbirds 10,040 " Paradise 2,850 skins
Bustard 28,000 quills Condors 1,500 "
Eagles 1,900 "
_Sold by Figgis & Co. Sold by Lewis & Peat_
Aigrettes 1,501 ounces Aigrettes 1,680 ounces
Herons 140 " Herons 400 "
Paradise 318 skins Birds of Paradise 700 skins
If I am correctly informed, the London feather trade admits that it
requires six egrets to yield one "ounce" of aigrette plumes. This being
the case, the 21,528 ounces sold as above stand for 129,168 egrets
killed for nine months' supply of egret plumes, for London alone.
The total number of bird corpses auctioned during these three sales is
Aigrettes, 21,528 ounces = 129,168 Egrets.
Herons, 2,683 " = 13,598 Herons.
20,698 Birds of Paradise.
9,464 Eagles, Condors, etc.
9,472 Other Birds.
Total number of birds 223,490
* * * * *
It is to be remembered that the sales listed above cover the
transactions of four firms only, and do not in any manner take into
account the direct importations from Paris, Berlin and Amsterdam of
manufacturers and other dealers. The defenders of the feather trade are
at great pains to assure the world that in the monthly, bi-monthly and
quarterly sales, feathers often appear in the market twice in the same
year; and this statement is made for them in order to be absolutely
fair. Recent examinations of the plume catalogues for an entire year,
marked with the price _paid_ for each item, reveals very few which are
blank, indicating no sale! The subtractions of the duplicated items
would alter the result only very slightly.
The full extent of England's annual consumption of the plumage of wild
birds slaughtered especially for the trade never has been determined. I
doubt whether it is possible to ascertain it. The information that we
have is so fragmentary that in all probability it reflects only a small
portion of the whole truth, but for all that, it is sufficient to prove
the case of the Defenders of the Birds _vs_. the London Chamber of
IMPORTS OF FEATHERS AND DOWN (ORNAMENTAL) FOR THE YEAR 1910
Venezuela 8,398 $191,058
Brazil 787 5,999
Japan 2,284 3,830
China 6,329 16,308
Tripoli 345 900
Egypt 21,047 89,486
Java, Sumatra, and Borneo 15,703 186,504
Cape of Good Hope 709,406[E] 9,747,146
British India 18,359 22,137
Hong-Kong 310 3,090
British West Indies 30 97
Other British Colonies 10,438 21,938
[Footnote E: Chiefly Ostrich feathers.]
The above does not take into account the feathers from game birds
received in England from France, Germany, Austria-Hungary, Belgium and
As a final side-light on the quantity of egret and heron plumes offered
and sold in London during the twelve months ending in April, 1912, we
offer the following exhibit:
"OSPREY" FEATHERS (EGRET AND HERON PLUMES) SOLD IN LONDON DURING THE
YEAR ENDING APRIL. 1912
Venezuelan, long and medium 11,617 ounces 7,072 ounces
Venezuelan, mixed Heron 4,043 " 2,539 "
Brazilian 3,335 " 1,810 "
Chinese 641 " 576 "
19,636 ounces 11,997 ounces
Birds of Paradise, plumes (2 plumes = 1 bird)
[Illustration: BEAUTIFUL AND CURIOUS BIRDS NOW BEING DESTROYED
FOR THE FEATHER TRADE--(III)
Under the head of "Hummingbirds Not Wanted," Mr. Downham is at great
pains to convey[F] the distinct impression that to-day hummingbirds are
scorned by the feather trade, and the demand for them is dead. _I
believed him_--until my agent turned in the following statement:
Hummingbirds sold by Lewis & Peat, London, February, 1911 24,800
Hummingbirds sold by Lewis & Peat, London, May, 1911 6,250
Hummingbirds sold by Hale & Sons, London, October, 1911 10,040
It is useless for anyone to assert that these birds were merely
"offered," and not actually sold, as Mr. Downham so laboriously explains
is the regular course with hummingbird skins; for that will deceive no
intelligent person. The statement published above comes to me direct,
from an absolutely competent and reliable source.
[Footnote F: "The Feather Trade," by C.F. Downham, p. 63-4.]
Undoubtedly the friends of birds, and likewise their enemies, will be
interested in the prices at which the skins of the most beautiful birds
of the world are sold in London, prior to their annihilation by the
feather industry. I submit the following exhibit, copied from the
circular of Messrs. Lewis & Peat. It is at least of academic interest.
* * * * *
PRICES OF RARE AND BEAUTIFUL BIRD SKINS IN LONDON
Condor skins $3.50 to $5.75
Condor wing feathers, each .05
Impeyan Pheasant .66 " 2.50
Argus Pheasant 3.60 " 3.85
Tragopan Pheasant 2.70
Silver Pheasant 3.50
Golden Pheasant .34 " .46
Greater Bird of Paradise:
Light Plumes: Medium to giants 10.32 " 21.00
Medium to long, worn 7.20 " 13.80
Slight def. and plucked 2.40 " 6.72
Dark Plumes: Medium to good long 7.20 " 24.60
12-Wired Bird of Paradise 1.44 " 1.80
Rubra Bird of Paradise 2.50
Rifle Bird of Paradise 1.14 " 1.38
King Bird of Paradise 2.40
"Green" Bird of Paradise .38 " .44
East Indian Kingfisher .06 " .07
East Indian Parrots .03
Peacock Necks, gold and blue .24 " .66
Peacock Necks, blue and green .36
Scarlet Ibis .14 " .24
Toucan breasts .22 " .26
Red Tanagers .09
Orange Oriels .05
Indian Crows' breasts .13
Indian Jays .04
Amethyst Hummingbirds .01-1/2
Hummingbird, various 3/16 of .01 " .02
Hummingbird, others 1/32 of .01 " .01
Egret ("Osprey") skins 1.08 " 2.78
Egret ("Osprey") skins, long 2.40
Vulture feathers, per pound .36 " 4.56
Eagle, wing feathers, bundles of 100 .09
Hawk, wing feathers, bundles of 100 .12
Mandarin Ducks, per skin .15
Pheasant tail feathers, per pound 1.80
Crown Pigeon heads, Victoria 1.68 " 2.50
Crown Pigeon heads, Coronatus .84 " 1.20
Emu skins 4.56 " 4.80
Cassowary plumes, per ounce 3.48
Swan skins .72 " .74
Kingfisher skins .07 " .09
African Golden Cuckoo 1.08
* * * * *
Many thoughts are suggested by these London lists of bird slaughter and
It will be noticed that the breast of the grebe has almost wholly
disappeared from the feather market and from women's hats. The reason is
that there are no longer enough birds of that group to hold a place in
the London market! Few indeed are the Americans who know that from 1900
to 1908 the lake region of southern Oregon was the scene of the
slaughter of uncountable thousands of those birds, which continued until
the grebes were almost exterminated.
When the wonderful lyre-bird of Australia had been almost exterminated
for its tail feathers, its open slaughter was stopped by law, and a
heavy fine was imposed on exportation, amounting, I have been told, to
$250 for each offense. My latest news of the lyre-bird was of the
surreptitious exportation of 200 skins to the London feather market.
In India, the smuggling outward of the skins of protected birds is
constantly going on. Occasionally an exporter is caught and fined; but
that does not stop the traffic.
Bird-lovers must now bid farewell forever to all the birds of paradise.
Nothing but the legal closing of the world's markets against their
plumes and skins can save any of them. They never were numerous; nor
does any species range over a wide area. They are strictly insular, and
the island homes of some of them are very small. Take the great bird of
paradise (_Paradisea apoda_) as an illustration. On Oct. 2, 1912, at
Indianapolis, Indiana, a city near the center of the United States, in
three show-windows within 100 feet of the headquarters of the Fourth
National Conservation Congress, I counted 11 stuffed heads and 11
complete sets of plumes of this bird, displayed for sale. The prices
ranged from $30 to $47.50 each! And while I looked, a large lady
approached, pointed her finger at the remains of a greater bird of
paradise, and with grim determination, said to her shopping companion:
"There! I want one o' them, an' I'm agoin' to _have_ it, too!"
Says Mr. James Buckland in "Pros and Cons of the Plumage Bill":
"Mr. Goodfellow has returned within the last few weeks from a second
expedition to new Guinea.... One can now walk, he states, miles and
miles through the former haunts of these birds [of paradise] without
seeing or hearing even the commonest species. When I reflect on this
sacrilege, I am lost in wonder at the apathy of the British public."
Mr. Carl Hagenbeck wrote me only three months ago that "the condors of
the Andes are all being exterminated for their feathers, and these birds
are now very difficult to obtain."
The egret and heron plumes, known under the trade name of "osprey, etc.,
feathers," form by far the most important item in each feather sale.
There are _fifteen_ grades! They are sold by the ounce, and the prices
range all the way from twenty-eight cents per ounce for "mixed heron" to
_two hundred and twenty-five shillings_ ($45.60) per ounce for the best
Brazilian "short selected," on February 7, 1912! Is it any wonder that
in Philadelphia the prices of finished aigrettes, ready to be worn, runs
from $20 to $125!
The plumes that run up into the big figures are the "short selected"
coming from the following localities, and quoted at the prices set down
here in shillings and pence. Count the shilling at twenty-four cents,
United States money.
PRICES OF "SHORT SELECTED" EGRET AND HERON PLUMES, IN LONDON ON FEBRUARY
(Lewis & Peat's List)
East Indies per ounce, 117/6 to 207/6 = $49.80 max.
Rangoon " " 150/0 " 192/6 = 46.20 "
China " " 130/0 " 245/0 = 58.80 "
Brazil " " 200/0 " 225/0 = 54.00 "
Venezuela " " 165/0 " 222/6 = 53.40 "
The total offering of these "short selected" plumes in December 1911,
was 689 ounces, and in February, 1912, it was 230 ounces.
Now with these enormous prices prevailing, is it any wonder that the
egrets and herons are being relentlessly pursued to the uttermost ends
of the earth? I think that any man who really knows the habits of egrets
and herons, and the total impossibility of any quantity of their shed
feathers being picked up in a marketable state, must know in his heart
that if the London and continental feather markets keep open a few years
longer, _every species_ that furnishes "short selected" plumes will be
utterly exterminated from off the face of the earth.
Let the English people make no mistake about this, nor be fooled by any
fairy tales of the feather trade about Venezuelan "garceros," and vast
quantities of valuable plumes picked off the bushes and out of the mud.
Those carefully concocted egret-farm stories make lovely reading, but
the reader who examines the evidence will soon decide the extent of
their truthfulness. I think that they contain not even ten per cent of
truth; and I shall not rest until the stories of Leon Laglaize and
Mayeul Grisol have been put to the test in the regions where they
A _few_ plumes may be picked out of the jungle, yes; but as for any
_commercial quantity_, it is at present beyond belief. Besides, we have
direct, eye-witness testimony to the contrary.
It must not be inferred that the friends of birds in England have been
idle or silent in the presence of the London feather trade. On the
contrary, the Royal Society for the Protection of Wild Birds and Mr.
James Buckland have so strongly attacked the feather industry that the
London Chamber of Commerce has felt called upon to come to its rescue.
Mr. Buckland, on his own individual account, has done yeoman service to
the cause, and his devotion to the birds, and his tireless energy, are
both almost beyond the reach of praise in words. At the last moment
before going to press I learn that the birds'-plumage bill has achieved
the triumph of a "first reading" in Parliament, which looks as if
success is at last in sight. The powerful pamphlet that he has written,
published and circulated at his own expense, entitled "Pros and Cons of
the Plumage Bill," is a splendid effort. What a pity it is that more
individuals are not similarly inspired to make independent effort in the
protection cause! But, strange to say, few indeed are the men who have
either the nerve or the ability to "go it alone."
On the introduction in Parliament of the bill to save the birds from the
feather trade, it was opposed (through the efforts of the Chamber of
Commerce), on the ground that if any bill against the sale of plumes
should pass, and plumes could not be sold, the London business in
wild-bird skins and feathers "would immediately be transferred to the
In the face of that devastating and altogether horrible prospect, and
because the London feather dealers "need the money," the bill was at
first defeated--to the great joy of the Chamber of Commerce and Mr.
Downham; but the cause of birds will win in the end, because it is
The feather dealers have been shrewdly active in the defense of their
trade, and the methods they have employed for influencing public opinion
have quite outshone those put forth by their brethren in America. I have
before me a copy of a booklet bearing the name of Mr. C.F. Downham as
the author, and the London Chamber of Commerce has loaned its good name
as publisher. Altogether it is a very shrewd piece of work, even though
its arguments in justification of bird slaughter for the feather market
are too absurd and weak for serious consideration.
The chief burden of the defender of bird slaughter for millinery
purposes is on account of the destruction of egrets and herons, but
particularly the former. To offset as far as possible the absolutely
true charge that egrets bear their best plumes in their breeding season,
when the helpless young are in the nest and the parent birds must be
killed to obtain the plumes, the feather trade has obtained from three
Frenchmen--Leon Laglaize, Mayeul Grisol, and F. Geay--a beautiful and
plausible story to the effect that in Venezuela the enormous output of
egret plumes has been obtained _by picking up, off the bushes and out of
the water and mud, the shed feathers of those birds!_ According to the
story, Venezuela is full of _egret farms_, called "garceros,"--where the
birds breed and moult under strict supervision, and kindly drop their
feathers in such places that it is possible _to find them_, and to _pick
them up_, in a high state of preservation! And we are asked to believe
that it is these very Venezuelan picked-up feathers that command in
London the high price of _$44 per ounce_.
[Illustration: THE FIGHT IN ENGLAND AGAINST THE USE OF WILD BIRD'S
PLUMAGE IN THE MILLINERY TRADE
Sandwich-men Employed by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds,
that Patroled London Streets in July, 1911.]
Mr. Laglaize is especially exploited by Mr. Downham, as a French
traveler of high standing, and well known in the zoological museums of
France; but, sad to say, when Prof. Henry Fairfield Osborn cabled to the
Museum of Natural History in Paris, inquiring about Mr. Laglaize, the
cable flashed back the one sad word; "_Inconnu!_" (Unknown!)
I think it entirely possible that enough shed feathers have been picked
up in the reeking swamps of Venezuela, on the upper tributaries of the
Orinoco, to afford _an excuse_ for the beautiful story of Mr. Laglaize.
Any shrewd individual with money, and the influence that money secures,
could put up just such a "plant" as I firmly believe _has_ been put up
by some one in Venezuela. I will guarantee that I could accomplish such
a job in Venezuela or Brazil, in four months' time, at an expense not
exceeding one thousand dollars.
That the great supply of immaculately perfect egret plumes that annually
come out of Venezuela could by any possibility be picked up in the
swamps where they were shed and dropped by the egrets, is entirely
preposterous and incredible. The whole proportion is denounced by
several men of standing and experience, none of whom are "_inconnu_."
As a sweeping refutation of the fantastic statements regarding
"garceros," published by Mr. Downham as coming from Messrs. Laglaize,
Grisol and Geay, I offer the written testimony of an American gentleman
who at this moment owns and maintains within a few yards of his
residence a large preserve of snowy egrets and herons, the former
representing the species which furnishes egret plumes exactly similar to
those shipped from Venezuela and Brazil. If the testimony of Mr.
McIlhenny is not sufficient to stamp the statements of the three
Frenchmen quoted by Mr. Downham as absolute and thoroughly misleading
falsehoods, then there is no such thing in this world as evidence. I
suggest a perusal of the statements of the three Frenchmen who are
quoted with such confidence by Mr. Downham and published by the Hon.
Chamber of Commerce at London, and then a careful reading of the
Avery Island, La., June 17, 1912.
DEAR MR. HORNADAY:--
I have before me your letter of June 8th, asking for information as
to whether or no egrets shed their plumes at their nesting places in
sufficient quantities to enable them to be gathered commercially. I
most emphatically wish to state that it is impossible to gather at
the nesting places of these birds any quantity of their plumes. I
have nesting within 50 yards of where I am now sitting dictating
this letter not less than 20,000 pairs of the various species of
herons and egrets, and there are fully 2,500 pairs of snowy herons
nesting within my preserve.
During the nesting season, which covers the months of April, May and
June, I am through this heronry in a small canoe almost every day,
and often twice a day. I have had these herons under my close
inspection for the past 17 years, and I have not in any one season
picked up or seen more than half a dozen discarded plumes. Such
plumes as I have picked up, I have kept on my desk, and given to the
people who were interested. I remember that last year I picked up
four plumes of the snowy heron that were in one bunch. I think these
must have been plucked out by the birds fighting.
This year I have found only one plume so far. I enclose it herewith.
You will notice that it is one of the shorter plumes, and is badly
worn at the end, as have been all the plumes which I have picked up
in my heronry.
I am positive that it is not possible for natural shed plumes to be
gathered commercially. I have a number of times talked with plume
hunters from Venezuela and other South American countries, and I
have never heard of any egret feathers being gathered by their being
picked up after the birds have shed them.
I have heard of a number of heronries in South America that are
protected by the land owners for the purpose of gathering a yearly
crop of egret plumes, but this crop is gathered always by shooting a
certain percentage of the birds. This shooting is done by experts
with 22-calibre rifles, and does not materially disturb the nesting
colony. I have known of two men who have been engaged in killing the
birds on large estates in South America, who were paid regular
salaries for their services as egret hunters.
Very truly yours,
I am more than willing to set the above against the fairy tale of Mr.
Here is the testimony of A.H. Meyer, an ex-plume-hunter, who for nine
years worked in Venezuela. His sworn testimony was laid before the
Legislature of the State of New York, in 1911, when the New York
Milliners' Association was frantically endeavoring to secure the repeal
of the splendid Dutcher law. This witness was produced by the National
Association of Audubon Societies.
"My attention has been called to the fact that certain commercial
interests in this city are circulating stories in the newspapers and
elsewhere to the effect that the aigrettes used in the millinery trade
come chiefly from Venezuela, where they are gathered from the ground in
the large _garceros_, or breeding-colonies, of white herons.
"I wish to state that I have personally engaged in the work of
collecting the plumes of these birds in Venezuela. This was my business
for the years 1896 to 1905, inclusive. I am thoroughly conversant with
the methods employed in gathering egret and snowy heron plumes in
Venezuela, and I wish to give the following statement regarding the
practices employed in procuring these feathers:
"The birds gather in large colonies to rear their young. They have the
plumes only during the mating and nesting season. After the period when
they are employed in caring for their young, it is found that the plumes
are virtually of no commercial value, because of the worn and frayed
condition to which they have been reduced. It is the custom in Venezuela
to shoot the birds while the young are in the nests. A few feathers of
the large white heron (American egret), known as the _Garza blanca_, can
be picked up of a morning about their breeding places, but these are of
small value and are known as "dead feathers." They are worth locally not
over three dollars an ounce; while the feathers taken from the bird,
known as "live feathers," are worth fifteen dollars an ounce.
"My work led me into every part of Venezuela and Colombia where these
birds are to be found, and I have never yet found or heard of any
_garceros_ that were guarded for the purpose of simply gathering the
feathers from the ground. No such condition exists in Venezuela. The
story is absolutely without foundation, in my opinion, and has simply
been put forward for commercial purposes.
"The natives of the country, who do virtually all of the hunting for
feathers, are not provident in their nature, and their practices are of
a most cruel and brutal nature. I have seen them frequently pull the
plumes from wounded birds, leaving the crippled birds to die of
starvation, unable to respond to the cries of their young in the nests
above, which were calling for food. _I have known these people to tie
and prop up wounded egrets on the marsh where they would attract the
attention of other birds flying by. These decoys they keep in this
position until they die of their wounds, or from the attacks of insects.
I have seen the terrible red ants of that country actually eating out
the eyes of these wounded, helpless birds that were tied up by the
plume-hunters._ I could write you many pages of the horrors practiced in
gathering aigrette feathers in Venezuela by the natives for the
millinery trade of Paris and New York.
"To illustrate the comparatively small number of dead feathers which
are collected, I will mention that in one year I and my associates
shipped to New York eighty pounds of the plumes of the large heron and
twelve pounds of the little recurved plumes of the snowy heron. In this
whole lot there were not over five pounds of plumes that had been
gathered from the ground--and these were of little value. The
plume-birds have been nearly exterminated in the United States and
Mexico, and the same condition of affairs will soon exist in tropical
America. This extermination will come about because of the fact that the
young are left to starve in the nest when the old birds are killed, any
other statement made by interested parties to the contrary
"I am so incensed at the ridiculously absurd and misleading stories that
are being published on this question that I want to give you this
letter, and, before delivering it to you, shall take oath to its
Here is the testimony of Mr. Caspar Whitney, of New York, formerly
editor of _Outing_ Magazine and _Outdoor America_:
"During extended travel throughout South America, from 1903 to 1907,
inclusive, I journeyed, on three separate occasions, by canoe
(1904-1907), on the Lower Orinoco and Apure rivers and their
tributaries. This is the region, so far as Venezuela is concerned, in
which is the greatest slaughter of white herons for their plumage, or
more specifically for the marital plumes, which are carried only in the
mating and breeding season, and are known in the millinery trade as
"There is literally no room for question. The snowy herons are killed
exactly as I describe. It is the custom of all those who hunt for the
millinery trade, and is recognized by the natives as the usual method."
Here is the testimony of Mr. Julian A. Dimock, of Peekamose, N.Y., the
famous outdoor photographer, and illustrator of "Florida Enchantments":
"I know a goodly number of the plume-hunters of Florida. I have camped
with them, and talked to them. I have heard their tales, and even full
accounts of the 'shooting-up' of an egret rookery. Never has a man in
Florida suggested to me that plumes could be obtained without killing
the birds. I have known the wardens, and have visited rookeries after
they had been 'shot-up,' and the evidence all pointed to the everlasting
use of the gun. _It is certainly not true that the plumes can be
obtained without killing the birds bearing them_.
"Nineteen years ago, I visited the Cuthbert Rookery with one of the men
who discovered the birds nesting in that lake. He and his partner had
sold the plumes gathered there for more than a thousand dollars. He
showed me how they hid in the bushes and shot the birds. He even gave me
a chance to watch him kill two or three birds.
"I know personally the man chiefly responsible for the slaughter of the
birds at Alligator Bay. _He laughed at the idea of getting plumes
without killing the birds!_ I well know the man who shot the birds up
Rogers River, and even saw some of the empty shells left on the ground
[Illustration: YOUNG EGRETS, UNABLE TO FLY, STARVING
The Parent Birds had Been Killed by Plume Hunters]
[Illustration: SNOWY EGRET, DEAD ON HER NEST
Wounded in the Feeding-Grounds, and Came Home to Die. Photographed in a
Florida Rookery Protected by the National Association of Audubon
I have camped with Seminoles, whites, blacks, outlaws, and those within
the pale, connected with plume-hunting, and all tell the same story:
_The birds are shot to get the plumes._ The evidence of my own eyes, and
the action of the birds themselves, convinces me that there is not a
shadow of doubt concerning this point."
This sworn testimony from Mr. T.J. Ashe, of Key West, Florida, is very
direct and to the point:
"I have seen many moulted and dropped feathers from wild plumed birds. I
have never seen a moulted or dropped feather that was fit for anything.
It is the exception when a plumed bird drops feathers of any value while
in flight. Whatever feathers are so dropped are those that are frayed,
worn out, and forced out by the process of moulting. The moulting season
is not during the hatching season, but is after the hatching season. The
shedding, or moulting, takes place once a year; and during this moulting
season the feathers, after having the hard usage of the year from wind,
rain and other causes, when dropped are of absolutely no commercial
Mr. Arthur T. Wayne, of Mount Pleasant, S.C., relates in sworn testimony
his experience in attempting to secure egret plumes without killing the
"It is utterly impossible to get fifty egret plumes from any colony of
breeding birds without shooting the birds. Last spring, I went twice a
week to a breeding colony of American and snowy egrets, from early in
April until June 8. Despite the fact that I covered miles of territory
in a boat, I picked up but two American egret plumes (which I now have);
but not a single snowy egret plume did I see, nor did my companion, who
accompanied me on every trip.
"I saw an American egret plume on the water, and left it, purposely, to
see whether it would sink or not. Upon visiting the place a few days
afterwards, the plume was not in evidence, undoubtedly having sunk. The
plumes are chiefly shed in the air while the birds are going to or
coming from their breeding grounds. If that millinery plume law is
repealed, the fate of the American and snowy egrets is sealed, for the
few birds that remain will be shot to the very last one."
Any man who ever has been in an egret rookery (and I have) knows that
the above testimony is _true_! The French story of the beautiful and
smoothly-running egret farms in Venezuela is preposterous, save for a
mere shadow of truth. I do not say that _no_ egret plumes could be
picked up, but I do assert that the total quantity obtainable in one
year in that way would be utterly trivial.
No; the "ospreys" of the British feather market come from slaughtered
egrets and herons, _killed in the breeding season_. Let the British
public and the British Parliament make no mistake about that. If they
wish the trade to continue, let it be based on the impregnable ground
that the merchants want the money, and not on a fantastic dream that is
too silly to deceive even a child that knows birds.
The use or disuse of wild birds' plumage as millinery ornaments is
another of those wild-life subjects regarding which there is no room for
argument. To assert that the feather-dealers want the business for the
money it brings them is not argument! We have seen many a steam roller
go over Truth, and Right, and Justice, by main strength and red-hot
power; but Truth and Right refuse to stay flat down. There is on this
earth not one wild-animal species--mammal, bird or reptile--that can
long withstand exploitation for commercial purposes. Even the whales of
the deep sea, the walrus of the arctic regions, the condors of the Andes
and alligators of the Everglade morasses are no exception to the
In Mr. Downham's book there is much fallacious reasoning, and many
conclusions that are not borne out by the facts. For example, he says
that no species of bird of paradise has been diminished in number by
slaughter for the feather trade; that Florida still contains a supply of
egrets; that the decrease in bird life should be charged to the spread
of cities, towns and farms, and not to the trade; that the trade was "in
no way responsible" for the slaughter of three hundred thousand gulls
and albatrosses on Laysan Island!
I have space to notice one other important erroneous conclusion that Mr.
Downham publishes in his book, on page 105. He says:
"The destruction of birds in foreign countries is something that no
trade can direct or control."
This is an amazing declaration; and absolutely contrary to experience.
Let me prove what I say by a fresh and incontestable illustration:
Prior to April, 1911, when Governor Dix signed the Bayne law against the
sale of wild native game in the State of New York, Currituck County,
N.C., was a vast slaughter-pen for wild fowl. No power or persuasion had
availed to induce the people of North Carolina to check, or regulate, or
in any manner mitigate that slaughter of geese, ducks and swans. It was
estimated that two hundred thousand wild fowl were annually slaughtered
We who advocated the Bayne law said: "Close the New York markets against
Currituck birds, and you will stop a great deal of the slaughter."
We cleaned our Augean stable. The greatest game market in America was
Last winter (1911) the annual killing of wild fowl was fully fifty per
cent less than during previous years. In one small town, twenty
professional duck shooters went entirely out of business--because they
_couldn't sell their ducks_! The dealers refused to buy them. The result
was exactly what we predicted it would be; and this year, it is reported
over and over that ducks are more plentiful in New England than they
have been in twenty years previously! The result is wonderful, because
Beyond all question, the feather merchants of London, Paris and Berlin
absolutely control the bird-killers of Venezuela, China, New Guinea.
Mexico and South America. Let the word go forth that "the trade" is no
longer permitted to buy and sell egret and heron plumes, skins of birds
of paradise and condor feathers, and presto! the killing industry falls
dead the next moment.
[Illustration: MISCELLANEOUS BIRD SKINS, 8 CENTS EACH
Purchased by the New York Zoological Society from the Quarterly Sale in
London, August, 1912]
Yes, indeed, members of the British Parliament: it is easily within
_your power_ to wipe out at a single stroke fully one-half of the bird
slaughter for fancy feathers. It can be done just as we wiped out
one-half the annual duck slaughter in wickedly-wasteful North Carolina!
The feather trade absolutely _does_ control the killing situation! Now,
will the people of England clean house by controlling the feather trade?
If a hundred species of the most beautiful birds of the world must be
exterminated for the feather trade, let the odium rest elsewhere than on
the people of England.
The bird-lovers of America may rest assured that the bird-lovers of
England--a mighty host--are neither careless nor indifferent regarding
the wild-birds' plumage business. On the contrary, several bills have
been brought before Parliament intended to regulate or prohibit the
traffic, and a measure of vast importance to the birds of the world is
now before the House of Commons. It is backed by Mr. Percy Alden, M.P.,
by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, by the Selbourne
Society, and by Mr. James Buckland--a host in himself. For years past
that splendidly-equipped and well-managed Royal Society has waged
ceaseless warfare for the birds. Its activity has been tremendous, and
its membership list contains many of the finest names in England. The
address of the Honorary Secretary, Frank E. Lemon, Esq., is 23 Queen
Anne's Gate, London, S.W.
Naturally, these influences are opposed by the Textile Trade Section of
the London Chamber of Commerce, and their only argument consists of the
plea that if London doesn't get the money out of the feather trade, the
Continent will get it! A reasonable, logical, magnificent and convincing
excuse for wholesale bird slaughter, truly!
Mr. Buckland has been informed from the Continent that the people of
France, Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium are waiting and watching to
see what England is going to do with the question, "To slaughter, or not
to slaughter?" For England has no monopoly of the birds' plumage trade,
not by any means. Says Mr. Buckland ("Pros and Cons of the Plumage
Bill," page 17):
"As regards the vast majority of fancy feathers used in millinery, the
Continent receives its own supplies. The feathers of the hundreds of
thousands of albatrosses which are killed in the North Pacific all go to
Paris. Of the untold thousands of 'magpies,' owls, and other species
which come from Peru, not one skin or feather crosses the Channel. The
white herons of the Upper Senegal and the Niger are being rapidly
exterminated at the instigation of the feather merchants, but not one of
the plumes reaches London. Paris receives direct a large supply of
aigrettes from South America and elsewhere.... The millions of
swallows and other migratory birds which are killed annually as they
pass through Italy, France and Spain on their way north, supply the
millinery trade of Europe with an incredible quantity of wings and other
plumage, but none of it is distributed from London.... London, as a
distributing center, has no monopoly of the trade in raw feathers."
Mr. Buckland's green-covered pamphlet is a powerful document, and both
his facts and his conclusions seem to be unassailable. The author's
address is Royal Colonial Institute, Northumberland Ave., London, W.C.
The duty of the civilized nations of Europe is perfectly plain. The
savage and bloody business in feathers torn from wild birds should be
stopped, completely and forever. If the commons will not arise and
reform the odious business out of existence, then the kings and queens
and presidents should do their plain duty. In the suppression of a world
crime like this it is clearly a case of _noblesse oblige_!
* * * * *
THE BIRD TRAGEDY ON LAYSAN ISLAND
This chapter is a curtain-dropper to the preceding chapter. As a
clearly-cut, concrete case, the reader will find it unique and
unsurpassed. It should be of lively interest to every American because
the tragedy occurred on American territory.
In the far-away North Pacific Ocean, about seven hundred miles from
Honolulu west-b'-north, lies the small island of Laysan. It is level,
sandy, poorly planted by nature, and barren of all things likely to
enlist the attention of predatory man. To the harassed birds of
mid-ocean, it seemed like a secure haven, and for ages past it has been
inhabited only by them. There several species of sea birds, large and
small, have found homes and breeding places. Until 1909, the inhabitants
consisted of the Laysan albatross, black-footed albatross, sooty tern,
gray-backed tern, noddy tern, Hawaiian tern, white tern, Bonin petrel,
two shearwaters, the red-tailed tropic bird, two boobies and the
Laysan Island is two miles long by one and one-half miles broad, and at
times it has been literally covered with birds. Its bird life was first
brought prominently to notice in 1891, by Henry Palmer, the agent of
Hon. Walter Rothschild, and in 1902 and 1903 Walter K. Fisher and W.A.
Bryan made further observations.
Ever since 1891 the bird life on Laysan has been regarded as one of the
wonders of the bird world. One of the photographs taken prior to 1909
shows a vast plain, apparently a square mile in area, covered and
crowded with Laysan albatrosses. They stand there on the level sand,
serene, bulky and immaculate. Thousands of birds appear in one view--a
very remarkable sight.
Naturally man, the ever-greedy, began to cast about for ways by which to
convert some product of that feathered host into money. At first guano
and eggs were collected. A tramway was laid down and small box-cars were
introduced, in which the collected material was piled and pushed down to
the packing place.
For several years this went on, and the birds themselves were not
molested. At last, however, a tentacle of the feather-trade octopus
reached out to Laysan. In an evil moment in the spring of 1909, a
predatory individual of Honolulu and elsewhere, named Max Schlemmer,
decided that the wings of those albatross, gulls and terns should be
torn off and sent to Japan, whence they would undoubtedly be shipped to
Paris, the special market for the wings of sea-birds slaughtered in the
[Illustration: LAYSAN ALBATROSSES, BEFORE THE GREAT SLAUGHTER
By the Courtesy of Hon. Walter Rothschild.]
[Illustration: LAYSAN ALBATROSS ROOKERY, AFTER THE GREAT SLAUGHTER
The Same Ground as Shown in the Preceding Picture, Photographed in 1911
by Prof. Homer R. Dill]
Schlemmer the Slaughterer bought a cheap vessel, hired twenty-three
phlegmatic and cold-blooded Japanese laborers, and organized a raid on
Laysan. With the utmost secrecy he sailed from Honolulu, landed his
bird-killers upon the sea-bird wonderland, and turned them loose upon
For several months they slaughtered diligently and without mercy.
Apparently it was the ambition of Schlemmer to kill every bird on the
By the time the bird-butchers had accumulated between three and four
car-loads of wings, and the carnage was half finished, William A. Bryan,
Professor of Zoology in the College of Honolulu, heard of it and
promptly wired the United States Government.
Without the loss of a moment the Secretary of the Navy despatched the
revenue cutter _Thetis_ to the shambles of Laysan. When Captain Jacobs
arrived he found that in round numbers about _three hundred thousand_
birds had been destroyed, and all that remained of them were several
acres of bones and dead bodies, and about three carloads of wings,
feathers and skins. It was evident that Schlemmer's intention was to
kill all the birds on the island, and only the timely arrival of the
_Thetis_ frustrated that bloody plan.
The twenty-three Japanese poachers were arrested and taken to Honolulu
for trial, and the _Thetis_ also brought away all the stolen wings and
plumage with the exception of one shedful of wings that had to be left
behind on account of lack of carrying space. That old shed, with one
end torn out, and supposed to contain nearly fifty thousand pairs of
wings, was photographed by Prof. Dill in 1911, as shown herewith.
[Illustration: ACRES OF GULL AND ALBATROSS BONES
Photographed on Laysan Island by H.R. Dill, 1911]
Three hundred thousand albatrosses, gulls, terns and other birds were
butchered to make a Schlemmer holiday! Had the arrival of the _Thetis_
been delayed, it is reasonably certain that every bird on Laysan would
have been killed to satisfy the wolfish rapacity of one money-grubbing
In 1911, the Iowa State University despatched to Laysan a scientific
expedition in charge of Prof. Homer R. Dill. The party landed on the
island on April 24 and remained until June 5, and the report of
Professor Dill (U.S. Department of Agriculture) is consumedly
interesting to the friends of birds. Here is what he has said regarding
the evidences of bird-slaughter:
"Our first impression of Laysan was that the poachers had stripped the
place of bird life. An area of over 300 acres on each side of the
buildings was apparently abandoned. Only the shearwaters moaning in
their burrows, the little wingless rail skulking from one grass tussock
to another, and the saucy finch remained. It is an excellent example of
what Prof. Nutting calls the survival of the inconspicuous.
"Here on every side are bones bleaching in the sun, showing where the
poachers had piled the bodies of the birds as they stripped them of
wings and feathers. In the old open guano shed were seen the remains of
hundreds and possibly thousands of wings which were placed there but
never cured for shipping, as the marauders were interrupted in their
[Illustration: SHED PILLED WITH WINGS OF SLAUGHTERED BIRDS ON LAYSAN
"An old cistern back of one of the buildings tells a story of cruelty
that surpasses anything else done by these heartless, sanguinary
pirates, not excepting the practice of cutting wings from living birds
and leaving them to die of hemorrhage. In this dry cistern the living
birds were kept by hundreds to slowly starve to death. In this way the
fatty tissue lying next to the skin was used up, and the skin was left
quite free from grease, so that it required little or no cleaning during
"Many other revolting sights, such as the remains of young birds that
had been left to starve, and birds with broken legs and deformed beaks
were to be seen. Killing clubs, nets and other implements used by these
marauders were lying all about. Hundreds of boxes to be used in shipping
the bird skins were packed in an old building. It was very evident they
intended to carry on their slaughter as long as the birds lasted.
"Not only did they kill and skin the larger species but they caught and
caged the finch, honey eater, and miller bird. Cages and material for
making them were found."--(Report of an Expedition to Laysan Island in
1911. By Homer R. Dill, page 12.)
The report of Professor Bryan contains the following pertinent
"This wholesale killing has had an appalling effect on the colony.... It
is conservative to say that fully one-half the number of birds of both
species of albatross that were so abundant everywhere in 1903 have been
killed. The colonies that remain are in a sadly decimated condition....
Over a large part of the island, in some sections a hundred acres in a
place, that ten years ago were thickly inhabited by albatrosses not a
single bird remains, while heaps of the slain lie as mute testimony of
the awful slaughter of these beautiful, harmless, and without doubt
beneficial inhabitants of the high seas.
"While the main activity of the plume-hunters was directed against the
albatrosses, they were by no means averse to killing anything in the
bird line that came in their way.... Fortunately, serious as were the
depredations of the poachers, their operations were interrupted before
any of the species had been completely exterminated."
But the work of the Evil Genius of Laysan did not stop with the
slaughter of three hundred thousand birds. Mr. Schlemmer introduced
rabbits and guinea-pigs; and these rapidly multiplying rodents now are
threatening to consume every plant on the island. If the plants
disappear, many of the insects will go with them; and this will mean the
disappearance of the small insectivorous birds.
In February, 1909, President Roosevelt issued an executive order
creating the Hawaiian Islands Reservation for Birds. In this are
included Laysan and twelve other islands and reefs, some of which are
inhabited by birds that are well worth preserving. By this act, we may
feel that for the future the birds of Laysan and neighboring islets are
secure from further attacks by the bloody-handed agents of the vain
women who still insist upon wearing the wings and feathers of wild
* * * * *
UNFAIR FIREARMS, AND SHOOTING ETHICS
For considerably more than a century, the States of the American Union
have enacted game-protective laws based on the principle that the wild
game belongs to the People, and the people's senators, representatives
and legislators generally may therefore enact laws for its protection,
prescribing the manner in which it may and may not be taken and
possessed. The soundness of this principle has been fully confirmed by
the Supreme Court of the United States in the case of Geer vs.
Connecticut, on March 2, 1896.
The tendency of predatory man to kill and capture wild game of all kinds
by wholesale methods is as old as the human race. The days of the club,
the stone axe, the bow and arrow and the flint-lock gun were
contemporaneous with the days of great abundance of game. Now that the
advent of breech-loaders, repeaters, automatics and fixed ammunition has
rendered game scarce in all localities save a very few, the thoughtful
man is driven to consider measures for the checking of destruction and
the suppression of wholesale slaughter.
First of all, the deadly floating batteries and sail-boats were
prohibited. To-day a punt gun is justly regarded as a relic of
barbarism, and any man who uses one places himself beyond the pale of
decent sportsmanship, or even of modern pot-hunting. Strange to say,
although the unwritten code of ethics of English sportsmen is very
strict, the English to this day permit wild-fowl hunting with guns of
huge calibre, some of which are more like shot-cannons than shot-guns.
And they say, "Well, there are still wild duck on our coast!"
Beyond question, it is now high time for the English people to take up
the shot-gun question, and consider what to-day is fair and unfair in
the killing of waterfowl. The supply of British ducks and geese can not
forever withstand the market gunners and their shot-cannons. Has not the
British wild-fowl supply greatly decreased during the past fifteen
years? I strongly suspect that a careful investigation would reveal the
fact that it has diminished. The Society for the Preservation of the
Fauna of the Empire should look into the matter, and obtain a series of
reports on the condition of the waterfowl to-day as compared with what
it was twenty years ago.
In the United States we have eliminated the swivel guns, the punt guns
and the very-big-bore guns. Among the real sportsmen the tendency is
steadily toward shot-guns of small calibre, especially under 12-gauge.
But, outside the ranks of sportsmen, we are now face to face with two
automatic and five "pump" shotguns of deadly efficiency. Of these, more
than one hundred thousand are being made and sold annually by the five
companies that produce them. Recently the annual output has been
carefully estimated from known facts to be about as follows:
Winchester Arms Co., New Haven, Conn.
(1 Automatic and 1 Pump-gun) 50,000 guns.
Remington Arms Co., Ilion, N.Y.
(1 Automatic and 1 Pump-gun) 25,000 "
Marlin Fire Arms Co., New Haven, Conn. 1 Pump-gun 12,000 "
Stevens Arms Co., Chicopee Falls, Mass. 1 Pump-gun 10,000 "
Union Fire Arms Co., 1 Pump-gun 5,000 "
[Illustration: FOUR OF THE SEVEN MACHINE GUNS
STEVENS PUMP GUN, 6 SHOTS IN 6 SECONDS.
WINCHESTER PUMP GUN, 6 SHOTS IN 6 SECONDS.
REMINGTON AUTOMATIC, 5 SHOTS IN 4 SECONDS.
Loaded and cocked by its own recoil.
WINCHESTER AUTOLOADING. 5 SHOTS IN 4 SECONDS
Loaded and cocked by its own recoil.]
THE ETHICS OF SHOOTING AND SHOT-GUNS.--Are the American people willing
that their wild birds shall be shot by machinery?
In the ethics of sportsmanship, the anglers of America are miles ahead
of the men who handle the rifle and shot-gun in the hunting field. Will
the hunters ever catch up?
The anglers have steadily diminished the weight of the rod and the size
of the line; and they have prohibited the use of gang hooks and nets. In
this respect the initiative of the Tuna Club of Santa Catalina is worthy
of the highest admiration. Even though the leaping tuna, the jewfish and
the sword-fish are big and powerful, the club has elected to raise the
standard of sportsmanship by making captures more difficult than ever
before. A higher degree of skill, and nerve and judgment, is required in
the angler who would make good on a big fish; and, incidentally, the
fish has about double "the show" that it had fifteen years ago.
That is Sportsmanship!
But how is it with the men who handle the shot-gun?
By them, the Tuna Club's high-class principle has been exactly reversed!
In the making of fishing-rods, commercialism plays small part; but in
about forty cases out of every fifty the making of guns is solely a
matter of dollars and profits.
Excepting the condemnation of automatic and pump guns, I think that few
clubs of sportsmen have laid down laws designed to make shooting more
difficult, and to give the game more of a show to escape. Thousands of
gentlemen sportsmen have their own separate unwritten codes of honor,
but so far as I know, few of them have been written out and adopted as
binding rules of action. I know that among expert wing shots it is an
unwritten law that quail and grouse must not be shot on the ground, nor
ducks on the water. But, among the three million gunners who annually
shoot in the United States how many, think you, are there who in actual
practice observe any sentimental principles when in the presence of
killable game? I should say about one man and boy out of every five
Up to this time, the great mass of men who handle guns have left it to
the gunmakers to make their codes of ethics, and hand them out with the
loaded cartridges, all ready for use.
For fifty years the makers of shot-guns and rifles have taxed their
ingenuity and resources to make killing easier, especially for "amateur"
sportsmen,--_and take still greater advantages of the game_! Look at
this scale of progression:
FIFTY YEARS' INCREASE IN THE DEADLINESS OF FIREARMS.
KIND OF GUN. ESTIMATED DEGREE OF DEADLINESS.
Single-shot muzzle loader xx 10
Single-shot breech-loader xxxxxx 30
Double-barrel breech-loader xxxxxxxxxx 50
Choke-bore breech-loader xxxxxxxxxxxx 60
Repeating rifle xxxxxxxxxxxx 60
Repeating rifle, with silencer xxxxxxxxxxxxxx 70
"Pump" shot-gun (6 shots) xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx 90
Automatic or "autoloading" shot-guns, 5 shots xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx 100
_The Output of 1911_.--At a recent hearing before a committee of the
House of Representatives at Washington, a representative of the
gun-making industry reported that in the year 1911 ten American
manufacturing concerns turned out the following:
666,643 rifles, and
There are 66 factories producing firearms and ammunition, employing
$39,377,000 of invested capital and 15,000 employees.
The sole and dominant thought of many gunmakers is to make the very
deadliest guns that human skill can invent, sell them as fast as
possible, and declare dividends on their stock. The Remington,
Winchester, Marlin, Stevens and Union Companies are engaged in a mad
race to see who can turn out the deadliest guns, and the most of them.
On the market to-day there are five pump-guns, that fire six shots each,
in about _six seconds_, without removal from the shoulder, by the quick
sliding of a sleeve under the barrel, that ejects the empty shell and
inserts a loaded one. There are two automatics that fire five shots each
in _five seconds or less_, by five pulls on the trigger! _The
autoloading gun is reloaded and cocked again wholly by its own recoil_.
Now, if these are not machine guns, what are they?
In view of the great scarcity of feathered game, and the number of
deadly machine guns already on the market, the production of the last
and deadliest automatic gun (by the Winchester Arms Company), _already
in great demand_, is a crime against wild life, no less.
Every human action is a matter of taste and individual honor.
It is natural for the duck-butchers of Currituck to love the automatic
shot-guns as they do, because they kill the most ducks per flock. With
two of them in his boat, holding _ten shots_, one expert duck-killer
can,--and sometimes _actually does_, so it is said,--get every duck out
of a flock, up to seven or eight.
It is natural for an awkward and blundering wing-shot to love the
deadliest gun, in order that he may make as good a bag as an expert shot
can make with a double-barreled gun. It is natural for the hunter who
does not care a rap about the extermination of species to love the gun
that will enable him to kill up to the bag limit, every time he takes
the field. It is natural for men who don't think, or who think in
circles, to say "so long as I observe the lawful bag limit, what
difference does it make what kind of a gun I use?"
It is natural for the Remington, and Winchester, and Marlin gun-makers
to say, as they do, "Enforce the laws! Shorten the open seasons! Reduce
the bag limit, and then it won't matter what guns are used! But,--DON'T
touch autoloading guns! Don't hamper Inventive Genius!"
Is it not high time for American sportsmen to cease taking their moral
principles and their codes of ethics from the gun-makers?
Here is a question that I would like to put before every hunter of game
In view of the alarming scarcity of game, in view of the impending
extermination of species by legal hunting, can any high-minded
_sportsman_, can any _good citizen_ either sell a machine shot-gun or
use one in hunting?
A gentleman is incapable of taking an unfair advantage of any wild
creature; therefore a gentleman cannot use punt guns for ducks, dynamite
for game fish, or automatic or pump guns in bird-shooting. The machine
guns and "silencers" are grossly unfair, and like gang-hooks, nets and
dynamite for trout and bass, their use in hunting must everywhere be
prohibited by law. Times have changed, and the lines for protection must
be more tightly drawn.
[Illustration: THE CHAMPION GAME SLAUGHTER CASE
One Hour's Slaughter (218 Geese) With Two Automatic Shot-Guns]
The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania (Judge Orlady) has decided that the
Pennsylvania law against the use of automatic guns in hunting is
entirely constitutional, because every state has a right to say how its
game may and may not be killed.
It is up to the American People to say _now_ whether their wild life
shall be slaughtered by machinery, or not.
If they are willing that it should be, then let us be consistent and
say--away with all "conservation!" The game conservators can endure a
gameless and birdless continent quite as well as the average citizen
HOW THEY WORK.--There are a few apologists for the automatic and pump
guns who cheerfully say, "So long as the bag limit is observed what
difference does it make how the birds are killed?"
It is strange that a conscientious man should ask such a question, when
the answer is apparent.
We reply, "The difference is that an automatic or pump gun will kill
fully twice as many waterfowl as a double-barrel, _if not more_; and _it
is highly undesirable that every gunner should get the bag limit of
birds, or any number near it_! The birds can not stand it. Moreover,
_the best states for ducks and geese have no bag limits on those birds_!"
To-day, on Currituck Sound, for example, the market hunters are killing
all the waterfowl they can sell. On Marsh Island, Louisiana, one man has
killed 369 ducks in one day, and another market gunner killed 430 in one
The automatic and the "pump" shot-guns are the favorite weapons of the
game-hog who makes a specialty of geese and ducks. It is no uncommon
thing for a gunner who shoots a machine gun to get, with one gun, as
high as _eight_ birds out of one flock. A man who has himself done this
has told me so.
_The Champion Game-Slaughter Case_.--Here is a story from California
that is no fairy tale. It was published, most innocently, in a western
magazine, with the illustration that appears herewith, and in which
please notice the automatic shot-gun:
"February 5th, I and a friend were at one of the Glenn County Club's
camps.... Neither of us having ever had the pleasure of shooting over
live decoys, we were anxious, and could hardly wait for the sport to
commence. On arriving at the scene we noticed holes which had been dug
in the ground, just large enough for a man to crawl into. These holes
were used for hiding places, and were deep enough so the sportsmen would
be entirely out of sight of the game. The birds are so wild that to move
a finger will frighten them....
"The decoys are wild geese which had been crippled and tamed for this
purpose. They are placed inside of silk net fences which are located on
each side of the holes dug for hiding places. These nets are the color
of the ground and it is impossible for the wild geese flying overhead to
detect the difference.
"After we had investigated everything the expert caller and owner of the
outfit exclaimed: 'Into your holes!'
"We noticed in the distance a flock of geese coming. Our caller in a few
seconds had their attention, and they headed towards our decoys. Soon
they were directly over us, but out of easy range of our guns. We were
anxious to shoot, but in obedience to our boss had to keep still, and
soon noticed that the birds were soaring around and in a short time were
within fifteen or twenty feet of us. At that moment we heard the
command, 'Punch 'em!' and the bombardment that followed was beyond
imagining. _We had fired five shots apiece and found we had bagged ten
geese from this one flock_.
"At the end of one hour's shooting we had 218 birds to our credit and
were out of ammunition.
"On finding that no more shells were in our pits we took our dead geese
to the camp and returned with a new supply of ammunition. We remained in
the pits during the entire day. When the sun had gone behind the
mountains we summed up our kill and _it amounted to 450 geese_!
"The picture shown with this article gives a view of _the first hour's
shoot_. A photograph would have been taken of the remainder of the
shoot, but it being warm weather the birds had to be shipped at once in
order to keep them from spoiling.
[Illustration: SLAUGHTERED ACCORDING TO LAW
A Result of a Faulty System. Such Pictures as this are Very Common in
Sportsmen's Magazines Note the Automatic Gun]
"Supper was then eaten, after which we were driven back to Willows; both
agreeing that it was one of the greatest days of sport we ever had, and
wishing that we might, through the courtesy of the Glenn County Goose
Club, have another such day. C.H.B."
Another picture was published in a Canadian magazine, illustrating a
story from which I quote:
"I fixed the decoys, hid my boat and took my position in the blind. My
man started his work with a will and hustled the ducks out of every
cove, inlet or piece of marsh for two miles around. I had barely time to
slip the cartridges into my guns--_one a double and the other a five
shot automatic_--when I saw a brace of birds coming toward me. They
sailed in over my decoys. I rose to the occasion, and the leader
up-ended and tumbled in among the decoys. The other bird, unable to stop
quick enough, came directly over me. He closed his wings and struck the
ground in the rear of the blind.
"More and more followed. Sometimes they came singly, and then in twos
and threes. I kept busy and attended to each bird as quickly as
possible. Whenever there was a lull in the flight I went out in the boat
and picked up the dead, leaving the wounded to take chances with any
gunner lucky enough to catch them in open and smooth water. A bird handy
in the air is worth two wounded ones in the water. _Twice I took six
dead birds out of the water for seven shots, and both guns empty_.
"The ball thus opened, the birds commenced to move in all directions.
Until the morning's flight was over I was kept busy pumping lead, _first
with the 10, then with the automatic_, reloading, picking up the dead,
And the reader will observe that the harmless, innocent, inoffensive
automatic shot gun, that "don't matter if you enforce the bag limit,"
figures prominently in both stories and both photographs.
_A Story of Two Pump Guns and Geese_:--It comes from Aberdeen, S.D.
(Sand Lake), in the spring of 1911. Mr. J.J. Humphrey tells it, in
_Outdoor Life_ magazine for July, 1911.
"Smith and I were about a hundred yards from them [the flock of Canada
geese], when Murphy scared them. They rose in a dense mass and came
directly between Smith and me. We were about gunshot distance apart, and
they were not over thirty feet in the air when we opened up on them with
our pump guns and No. 5 shot. When the smoke cleared away and we had
rounded up the cripples we found we had twenty-one geese. I have heard
of bigger killings out in this country, but never positively knew of
So then: _those two gunners averaged 10-1/2 wild geese per pump gun out
of one flock_! And yet there are wise and reflective sportsmen who say,
"What difference does the kind of gun make so long as you live up to the
I think that the pump and automatic guns make about 75 _per-cent of
difference, against the game_; that is all!
The number of shot-guns now in use in the United States is almost beyond
belief. About six years ago a gentleman interested in the manufacture of
such weapons informed me, and his statement has never been disputed,
that _every year_ about 500,000 new shot-guns were sold in the United
States. The number of shot cartridges annually produced by our four
great cartridge companies has been reliably estimated as follows:
Winchester Arms Co 300,000,000
Union Metallic Cartridge Co 250,000,000
Peters Cartridge Co 150,000,000
Western Cartridge Co 75,000,000
We must stop all the holes in the barrel, or eventually lose all the
water. No group of bird-slaughterers is entitled to immunity. We will
not "limit the bag, and enforce the laws," while we permit the makers
and users of autoloading and pump guns to kill at will, as they demand.
* * * * *
[Illustration: Copy of letter:
National Association of Audubon Societies
Founded 1901. Incorporated 1906.
For the Protection of Wild Birds and Animals
WILLIAM DUTCHER, President
JOHN E. THAYER, 1st Vice-President
THEO. S. PALMER, M.D., 2d Vice-President
T. GILBERT PEARSON, Secretary
FRANK M. CHAPMAN, Treasurer
SAMUEL T. CARTER, Jr., Attorney
525 Manhattan Avenue, New York City
[Illustration: Map showing (shaded) States having
[Illustration: Map showing (shaded) States which have adopted
the A.O.U. model law protecting the non-game birds.]
Feb. 26th 1906.
My dear Mr. Hornaday:--
It is with much surprise that I learn through your communication of even
date that certain persons are claiming that the National Association of
Audubon Societies for the Protection of Wild Animals and Birds is in
favor of the use of automatic or pump guns, and consequently is not in
favor of the passage of laws to prevent the use or sale of such
I beg officially to state that the National Association of Audubon
Societies is absolutely opposed to either the manufacture, sale, or use
of such firearms, and therefore hopes that the meritorious bill
introduced by the New York Zoological Society will become a law.
I beg further to add that any statement contrary to the above in effect
This society is working for the preservation of the wild birds and game
of North America, and it sincerely should not stultify itself by
advocating the use of one of the most potent means of destruction that
has ever been devised.
You are at liberty to use this communication either publicly or
Very sincerely yours,
[Signature: William Dutcher]
A LETTER THAT TELLS ITS OWN STORY]
* * * * *
Yes; we _will_ "limit the bag" and "enforce the laws;" but the machine
guns and the alien shooters shall be eliminated at the same time! Each
state has the power to regulate, absolutely, down to the smallest
detail, the manner in which the game of The People shall be taken or not
taken; and such laws are absolutely constitutional. If we can legislate
punt guns and dynamite out of use, the machine guns and silencers can be
_No immunity for wild-life exterminators_.
The following unprejudiced testimony from a New York business man who is
a sportsman, with a fine game preserve of his own, should be of general
interest. It was written to G.O. Shields, March 21, 1906.
Regarding the use of the automatic shot-gun, would say that I am a
member of two southern ducking clubs where these guns are used very
extensively. I have seen a flock of ducks come into a blind where
one, two, or even three of these guns were in use, and have seen as
many as eleven shots poured into a single flock.
We have considerable poaching on one of these clubs, the territory
being so extensive that it is impossible to prevent it. We own
60,000 acres, and these poachers, I am told, nearly all use the
automatic guns. They frequently kill six or eight ducks out of one
flock--first taking a raking shot on the water, and then getting in
the balance of the magazine before the flock is out of range. In
fact, some of them carry two guns, and are able to discharge a part
of the second magazine into the same flock.
As I told you the other evening, I am not so much against the gun
when in the hands of gentlemen and real sportsmen, but, on account
of its terrible possibilities for market hunters, I believe that the
only safe way is to abolish it entirely, and that the better class
should be willing to give up this weapon as being the only means of
putting a stop to this willful game slaughter.
Very truly yours,
* * * * *
HOW GENTLEMEN SPORTSMEN REGARD AUTOMATIC AND PUMP GUNS
Each one of the following organizations, chiefly clubs of gentlemen
sportsmen, have adopted strong resolutions condemning the use of
automatic guns in hunting, and either requesting or recommending the
enactment of laws against their use:
New York Zoological Society ... Henry Fairfield Osborn, President
The Camp-Fire Club of America ... Daniel C. Beard, President
Boone and Crockett Club ... W. Austin Wadsworth, President
New York State Fish, Game and Forest League ... 81 Clubs and Associations
New York Association for the Protection of Fish and Game
... Alfred Wagstaff, President
Lewis and Clark Club ... John M. Phillips, President
League of American Sportsmen ... G.O. Shields, President
Wild Life Protective Association ... W.T. Hornaday, President
WHERE AUTOMATIC GUNS ARE BARRED OUT BY LAW
NEW JERSEY, 1912
NEW BRUNSWICK, 1907
BRITISH COLUMBIA, 1911
PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND, 1906
SPORTSMEN'S CLUBS WHEREIN THEY ARE BARRED BY CODES OF ETHICS AND RULES
Adirondack League Club, New York
Blooming Grove Park Hunting and Fishing Club, Penn.
Greenwing Gun Club, Ottawa, Ill.
Western Ducking Club, Detroit, Minn.
Bolsa Chica Club, Los Angeles, Cal.
Westminster Club, Los Angeles, Cal.
Los Patos Club, Los Arigeles, Cal.
Pocahontas Club, Va.
Tobico Hunting Club, Kawkawlin, Mich.
Turtle Lake Club, Turtle Lake, Mich.
Au Sable Forest Farm Club, Mich.
Wallace Ducking Club, Wild Fowl Bay, Mich.
Lomita Club, Los Angeles, Cal.
Golden West Club, Los Angeles, Cal.
Recreation Club, Los Angeles, Cal.
* * * * *
A MODEL BILL TO PROHIBIT THE USE OF AUTOMATIC AND REPEATING SHOT GUNS IN
Section 1. It shall be unlawful to use in hunting or shooting birds
or animals of any kind, any automatic or repeating shot gun or pump
gun, or any shot-gun holding more than two cartridges at one time,
or that may be fired more than twice without removal from the
shoulder for reloading.
Section 2. Violation of any provision of this act shall be punished
by a fine of not less than twenty-five nor more than one hundred
dollars for each offence; and the carrying, or possession in the
woods, or in any field, or upon any water of any gun or other weapon
the use of which is prohibited, as aforesaid, shall be prima facie
evidence of the violation of this act.
_The English 3-barrel "Scatter Rifle," for Ducks_.--All gunners who find
machine guns good enough for them will be delighted by the news that an
Englishman whose identity is concealed under the initials "F.M.M." has
invented and manufactured a 3-barreled rifle specially intended to kill
ducks that are beyond the reach of a choke-bore shotgun. The weapon
discharges all three barrels simultaneously. In the _London Field_, of
Dec. 9, 1911, it is described by a writer who also thoughtfully conceals
his identity under a nom-de-plume. After a trial of 48 shots, the writer
declares that "the 3-barreled is a really practicable weapon," and that
with it one could bag wild-fowl that were quite out of reach of any
shot-gun. Just why a Gatling gun or a Maxim should not be employed for
the same purpose, the writer fails to state. The use of either would be
quite as sportsmanlike, and as fair to the game. There are great
possibilities in ducking mortars, also.
_The "Sunday Gun."_--A new weapon of peculiar form and great deadliness
to song birds, has recently come into use. Because of the manner of its
use, it is known as the "Sunday gun." It is specially adapted to
concealment on the person. A man could go through a reception with one
of these deadly weapons absolutely concealed under his dress coat! It is
a weapon with two barrels, rifle and shot; and it enables the user to
kill anything from a humming-bird up to a deer. What the shot-barrel can
not kill, the rifle will. It is not a gun that any sportsman would own,
save as a curiosity, or for target use.
The State Ornithologist of Massachusetts, Mr. E.H. Forbush, informs me
that already the "Sunday gun" has become a scourge to the bird life of
that state. Thousands of them are used by men and boys who live in
cities and towns, and are able to get into the country only on Sundays.
They conceal them under their coats, on Sunday mornings, go out into the
country, and spend the day in shooting small birds and mammals. The dead
birds are concealed in various pockets, the Sunday gun goes under the
coat, and at nightfall the guerrilla rides back to the city with an
innocent smile on his face, as if he had spent a day in harmless
enjoyment of the beauties of nature.
The "Sunday gun" is on sale everywhere, and it is said to be in use both
by American and Italian killers of song-birds. It weighs only two
pounds, eight ounces, and its cost is so trifling that any guerrilla who
wishes one can easily find the money for its purchase. There are in the
United States at least a million men and boys quite mean enough to use
this weapon on song-birds, swallows, woodpeckers, nuthatches, rabbits
and squirrels, and like other criminals, hide both weapon and loot in
their clothing. So long as this gun is in circulation, no small bird is
safe, at any season, near any city or town.
Now, what are the People going to do about it?
My recommendation is that each state enact a law in the following terms:
Be it enacted, etc.--That from and after the passage of this act it
shall be unlawful for any person to use in hunting, or to carry
concealed on the person, any shotgun, or rifle, or combination of
shotgun and rifle, with a barrel or barrels less than twenty-eight
inches in length, or with a skeleton stock fixed on a hinge.
The carrying of any rifle or shotgun concealed on the person shall
constitute a felony.
The penalties for hunting with any gun specially adapted to concealment
should be not less than $50 fine or two months imprisonment at hard
labor, and the carrying of such weapons concealed should be $100 or four
months at hard labor.
Incidentally, we wonder what will be the next devilish device for the
destruction of wild life that American inventive genius will produce.
[Illustration: THE "SUNDAY GUN!"
A Deadly Combination of Concealable Rifle-and-Shot-Gun.]
[Illustration: THE WILDERNESS OF NORTH AMERICA (SHADED) AND THE ARCTIC
PRAIRIES, WELL STOCKED WITH BIG GAME]
* * * * *
THE PRESENT AND FUTURE OF NORTH AMERICAN BIG GAME
The subject of this chapter opens up a vast field of facts and
conclusions, quite broad enough to fill a whole volume. In the space at
our disposal here it is possible to offer only a summary of the subject,
without attempting to prove our statements by the production of detailed
To say that all over the world, the large land mammals are being
destroyed more rapidly than they are breeding, would not be literally
true, for the reason that there are yet many areas that are almost
untouched by the destroying hand of civilized man. It is true, however,
that all the unspoiled areas rapidly are growing fewer and smaller. It
is also true that in all the regions of the earth that are easily
penetrable by civilized man, the wild life is being killed faster than
it breeds, and of necessity it is disappearing. This is why the British
are now so urgently bestirring themselves to create game preserves in
all the countries that they own.
It is one of the inexorable laws of Nature, to which I know of not one
exception, that large hoofed animals which live on open plains, on open
mountains, or in regions that are thinly forested, always are easily
found and easily exterminated. All such animals have a weak hold on
life. This is because it is so difficult for them to hide, and so very
easy for man to creep up within the killing range of modern, high-power,
long-range rifles. Is it not pitiful to think of animals like the
caribou, moose, white sheep and bear trying to survive on the naked
ridges and bald mountains of Yukon Territory and Alaska! With a modern
rifle, the greatest duffer on earth can creep up within killing distance
of any of the big game of the North.
The gray wolf is practically the only large animal that is able to hide
successfully and survive in the treeless regions of the North; but his
room is always preferable to his company, because he, too, is a
destroyer of big game.
I am tempted to try to map out roughly what are to-day the unopened and
undestroyed wild haunts of big game in North America. In doing this,
however, I warn the reader not to be deceived into thinking that because
game still exists in those regions, those areas therefore constitute a
permanent preserve and safe breeding-ground for large mammals. That is
very, very far from being the case. The further "opening up" of the
wilderness areas, as I shall call them for convenience, can and surely
will quickly wipe out their big game; for throughout nine-tenths of
those areas it holds to life by very slender threads.
To-day the unopened and undestroyed wilderness areas of North America,
wherein large mammals still live in a normal wild state, are in general
THE ARCTIC BARREN GROUNDS, or Arctic Prairies, north of the limit of
trees, embracing the Barren Grounds of northern Canada, the great arctic
archipelago, Ellesmere, Melville and Grant Lands and Greenland. This
region is the home of the musk-ox and three species of arctic caribou.
THE ALASKA-YUKON REGION, inhabited by the moose, white mountain sheep,
mountain goat, four species of caribou, and half a dozen species of
Alaska brown, grizzly and black bears.
NORTHERN ONTARIO, QUEBEC, LABRADOR AND NEWFOUNDLAND, inhabited by moose,
woodland caribou, white-tailed deer and black bear.
BRITISH COLUMBIA, inhabited by a magnificent big-game fauna embracing
the moose, elk, caribou of two species, white sheep, black sheep,
big-horn sheep, mule deer, white-tailed deer, mountain goat, grizzly,
black and inland white bears.
THE SIERRA MADRE OF MEXICO, containing jaguar, puma, _grizzly_ and black
bears, mule deer, white-tailed deer, antelope, mountain sheep and
I have necessarily omitted all those regions of the United States and
Canada that still contain a remnant of big game, but have been literally
"shot to pieces" by gunners.
In the United States and southern Canada there are about fifteen
localities which contain a supply of big game sufficient that a
conscientious sportsman might therein hunt and kill one head per year
with a clear conscience. _All others should be closed for five years_!
Here is the list of availables; and regarding it there will be about as
many opinions as there are big-game sportsmen:
* * * * *
HUNTING GROUNDS IN AND NEAR THE UNITED STATES AND SOUTHERN CANADA
WHEREIN IT IS RIGHT TO HUNT BIG GAME
THE MAINE WOODS: Well stocked with white-tailed deer.
NEW BRUNSWICK: Well stocked with moose; a few caribou, deer and black
WHITE MOUNTAINS OF NEW HAMPSHIRE AND VERMONT: For deer.
THE ADIRONDACKS, NEW YORK: Well stocked with white-tailed deer, only.
PENNSYLVANIA MOUNTAINS: Contain many deer and black bears, and soon will
NORTHERN MINNESOTA: Deer and moose.
NORTHERN MICHIGAN AND WISCONSIN: White-tailed deer.
NORTHWESTERN WYOMING: Thousands of elk in fall and winter; a few deer,
grizzly and black bears, but no sheep that it would be right to kill.
WESTERN AND SOUTHWESTERN MONTANA: Elk in season, mule and white-tail
deer; no sheep that it would be right to kill.
NORTHWESTERN MONTANA: Mule and white-tailed deer, only. No sheep, bear,
moose, elk or antelope _to kill_!
WYOMING, EAST OF YELLOWSTONE PARK: A few elk, by migration from the
Park; a few deer, and bear of two species.
NORTHERN WOODS OF ONTARIO AND QUEBEC: Moose; deer.
SOUTHERN BRITISH COLUMBIA: Goat, a few sheep and deer; grizzly bear.
Moose, caribou and elk should not be killed.
NORTHERN BRITISH COLUMBIA: Six fine species of big game.
NORTHWESTERN ALBERTA: Grizzly bear, big-horn and mountain goat.
Under existing conditions I regard the above-named hunting grounds as
_nearly all_ in which it is right or fair for big-game hunting now to be
permitted, even on a strict basis. Nearly all others should immediately
be closed, for large game, for ten years.
Of course such a proceeding, if carried into effect, would provoke loud
protests from sportsmen, gunners, game-hogs, pot-hunters and others; but
I only wish to high heaven that we had the power to carry such a program
as that into effect! _Then we would see some game in ten years_; and our
grand-children would thank us for some real big-game protection at a