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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 72.djvu/434

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POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY

animals, least of all when this incurs values incalculably greater than those represented by the seals alone.

All phases of this question which can be handled locally, and such are the more urgent phases, should be so handled by the proper bureaus, already in existence, backed by unmistakably knowing public sentiment. Sequentially the system of international safeguarding should be extended and perfected—the same system that has been already invoked for the seals, by reason of the fact that they yield that woman's garment—the seal-skin cloak. Only when all the sea animals are considered will this system ever be effective in the case of any single species; and somewhat setting aside altruism, it does seem strange that the immense values of the whales and turtles should have been so persistently overlooked. On the other hand, a very great altruistic value is also involved. For all international movements leading to the reasonable use of naval equipment in patrolling all the seas for the sake of common and world-wide interests and sympathies—those causes at once humane and wealth-conserving, must thrice bless.

It is, then, we must emphatically insist, neither Utopian nor impractical to attempt and speedily carry out the measures required for the preservation not only of land animals, but of all our great animals of the sea. The only element of doubt is whether the volume of sentiment can soon enough make itself felt—in short, whether the race has reached the required culture stage in time. Science has laid low the fallacious theory of fabulous gold dissolved in the waters of the seas, and we no longer heed this phantom of wealth which has deluded credulous minds quite since the days of alchemy. Nevertheless, this old belief may yet find a certain large measure of prophetic fulfillment if man can overcome his habits of wanton destruction before our great marine animals are extinct and the possibility of their preservation on this planet gone forever.

To be practical, every zoological text-book should have its chapter on the conservation of the animals of the land and sea. None should be forgotten, as many must inevitably be if the subject of conservation is not taken up in its broadest phases and based on first principles in order that specific applications may be both general and intelligent. And such teaching and applications, at once interesting, useful and elevating, should make their way into every district school. It may well be doubted if the human kind will ever be merciful to itself without being first merciful to the beast kind. For use and domestication do not constitute cruelty, since in natural environments the end of the individual is always violent—that is the weak are captured by the hunting animals, and the lion starves when no longer able to hunt. Conversely, to exterminate the forms of the sea and land is repulsive. What a degrading, miserable story is that of the hunt of the sea otter.