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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 54.djvu/685

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THE BERING SEA CONTROVERSY.

The British experts demanded this statement as a balm for the wounded feelings of the pelagic sealer, and, such being the fact, the American commissioners assumed that it could do no harm to place it on record that he has conformed to the requirements of the law. But from the American point of view this paragraph has a wider and deeper meaning. We have seen in the opening paragraph that the decline in the herd has been continuous and uninterrupted during the period of the Paris regulations. It is admitted in paragraph 8 that the decrease for this same period has been a “notable” one. The rate is specified in paragraph 7 as from “nine to twelve per cent” during two years when the regulations were rigidly enforced. It only requires the climax of paragraph 10, asserting the perfect observance of the regulations, to complete their condemnation.

11. Pelagic sealing involves the killing of males and females alike, without discrimination and in proportion as the two sexes coexist in the sea. The reduction of the males effected on the islands causes an enhanced proportion of females to be found in the pelagic catch; hence this proportion, if it vary from no other cause, varies at least with the catch on the islands. In 1895 Mr. A. B. Alexander, on behalf of the Government of the United States, found 62.3 per cent of females in the catch of the Dora Sieward in Bering Sea; and in 1896 Mr. Andrew Halkett, on behalf of the Canadian Government, found 84.2 per cent in the catch of the same schooner in the same sea. There are no doubt instances, especially in the season of migration and in the course of the migrating herds, of catches containing a different proportion of the two sexes.

There are two ways and two alone whereby killing by man affects the fur-seal herd—namely, killing on land and killing at sea. Land killing has been vindicated in paragraph 9. We have here the necessary condemnation of pelagic killing expressed in equally full and frank terms. Land killing takes only males and leaves an adequate supply of bulls for breeding purposes; pelagic killing takes males and females alike, the latter sex constituting 62 to 84 out of every 100 killed.

It is not a vital matter that the female sex should be found to predominate in the pelagic catch, except in so far as it proves the falsity of the returns made so persistently by the Canadian sealing captain that the sexes are taken in virtually equal proportion at sea. The essential thing is that females are killed at all. That three fourths of all the animals taken at sea (during one season 140,000 animals were so taken) are of this sex only emphasizes the destructive nature of this industry.

12. The large proportion of females in the pelagic catch includes not only adult females that are both nursing and pregnant, but also young seals that are not pregnant and others that have not yet brought forth