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PUBLISHED BY THE CONSERVATION COMMISSION
BIROS HAKE AGRICULTURE P&IRBLE
By Killing Insect and Rodent Pests, They Save Crops Enough to Feed Our Army Over There
AND GAMeIuFnISH FOOD
THOUSANDS OF TONS ARE TAKEN ANNUALLY
Conservation Laws are designed to make Fish, Game and Birds more abundant and are vitally necessary for National Welfare
GAME OR FISH OR
BIRDS DECREASES FOOD RESOURCES AND
DEFRAUDS HIS COUNTRY
REPORT VIOLATIONS TO THE NEAREST GAME PROTECTOR
CONSERVATION COMMISSION. ALBANY
FRIENDS AND FOES OF WILD LIFE
Discussion of Certain Predacious Birds
and Animals from the Standpoint
Confidential Secretary and Editor
STATE OF NEW YORK
CONSERVATION COMMISSION ALBANY
STATE OF NEW YORK
Alexaxdek Macdoxald Warwick S. Carpentkf Marshall McLean
DIVISION OF FISH
x^/,- '2.; u
>^OITAVfla2H03 T2HIAOA viHOW
GREAT HORNED OWL
AND ANIMALS THAT WORK AGAINST CONSERVATION
FRIENDS AND FOES OF WILD LIFE
Damage Done by Vermin
all the coiitempt that the word implies, is a only within eomparativel.y recent years has come to be given in this country to the various kinds of birds and animals
" Verniiii," with
vernacular of English gamekeepers,
to apply to foxes,
hunting house cats,
hawks and owls, crows, black snakes and other creatures that make their livelihood by the sacrifice of their more valuable and attractive neighbors. Eveiy intelligent movement for the protection of insectivorous birds, game l)irds and game animals has recognized the importance of holding vermin in check; in fact the success of such protection may usually be measured by the extent of the campaign against vermin. In England, for instance, where thousands of private gamekeepers are ever alert for an opportunity to nail uj) another
red squirrels, certain kinds of
cat's tail or crow's
in their " larder " of
at once struck by the great
and by the amazing quantity
in a single day.
vermin trophies, the abundance of song l)irds, game which it is possible to take
the other haml, in
America, vermin have had things their
many a neglected region in own way for so long that
of the valuable tlenizens of wood and field have been reduced almost to the point of extermination. The Conservation Commission is entirely awake to the vital im])ortance of unstinting warfare upon '"vermin," if a plentiful
other useful wild
every hunting and trap])ing license issued in the year 1919 is printed in large letters the slogan: "Enlist in the Campaign against Vermin," together with the words, "Shoot all you can of foxes, cats hunting ])rotected birds, harmful hawks, red squirrels
and other enemies of useful wild life. You will benefit both the game and your own sport." Furthermore, in the tally card with which each sportsman is i)rovided for the ])ur})ose of recording what
he takes during the year, the list of vermin is given a ])lace as prominent as that occupied by game and fur-bearing aniujals.
New Yokk — Coxservation
of the State i;anie protectors liave
provided during the
year with ^S-i^O Winchester rifles, which they are instructed to carry with them at all times when in the field, and to use for the reduction of vermin whenever o])portunity oft'ers.
At the same
time, there was sent to each protector the following vermin and other undesirable creatures, to which he was
directed to confine the use of his
Hunting house cat
Great horned owl Great gray owl Snowy owl
record to date
numl)er and kind of vermin which he
each month, and the
a force of
tectors, scattered over the State, each patrolling a territory averaging
about 400 square miles, can luirdly be expected to cause extensive diminution of vermin, no matter how conscientious they are in the work. Every s])ortsmau, every farmer and everyl^ody else who believes in the conservation of useful l)irds and animals, must enlist Only by such active cooperation, in the campaign and do his share. year in and year out, can a definite check be put upon these harmful creatures
lieneficial results to desirable
liecome of the rutted grouse, the noblest
Certainly the alarming decrease in the numbers of the
loved "partridge" cannot be attributed to sportsmen, a small
and could never have brought the birds to their jjresent low el)b. As part of a systematic investigation of this pr()])lem, the New York State Conservation Commission in 1917 sent a questionnaire to every game protector, every forest ranger and every sportman's organization in New ^'ork State, one question in which inquired into the chief
number during the
limited hunting season
causes of the birds' decrease.
naire were received
replies to the question-
by the Connnission, and although the returns from the ])rotectors and rangers were tabulated separately from those of the sjxjrtsmen, both groui)s not only named the same four
Friends and Foes of Wild Life
causes as having the greatest l^earing on the decrease of the birds,
but also pUiced them in the same order of importance, namely, (1) foxes, ("i) bad nesting seasons, (3) hawks, and (4) common cats. It is very significant that three of these four causes point the finger Many other concrete instances of blame at some form of vermin. of the depredations of vermin might be cited; but they are unnecesEvery sportsman and every farmer is well aware that vermin sary. must be kept in check.
Bounty System Undesirable
states offer bounties for evidence that predacious creatures
Under present-day conditions
skins of the
State, however, the institution of a
bounty system would be
or no benefit.
more destructive four-footed vermin
already have a definite market value, and, with a prime fox pelt
worth from twenty to twenty-five
and even a weasel's skin
In the case
bringing a dollar or more, the small bounty which the State could
pay would hardly prove an incentive
of birds, there
always danger under a bounty system that useful All hawks and owls are not harmful, species will be sacrificed. but, where there is a chance for a bounty, little distinction is likely to be made. In fact in any cami)aign against vermin, the chief problem is
whether the desirable characteristics of a certain creature of questionable habits more than outweigh the undesirable characteristics. For instance, the skunk, the mink and the raccoon undoubtedly do great damage to game birds and poultry; but the State Legislature has ruled that their value as fur-bearers is more important than
their depredations as
has therefore granted them
protection throughout the greater part of the year (except in the
case of skunks which are actually injuring property).
hand, foxes, both red and gray, are so exceedingly destructive of wild life that, in spite of the value of their fur, they are regarded
as outlaws the year round.
birds, the barred
young partridge, although the bulk of his diet consists of destructive rats and mice. The balance is in his favor, and he is therefore protected in New York State at all times. But the great horned owl, whose meals consist largely of game and poultry, may be shot at any season. The species whose records are overwhelmingly bad are surprisingly few; in other words,
only a few kinds of marauders that
Xew York — Conservationt
are taking the present large toll of useful birds and animals.
upon these few
sportsmen, farmers and trappers.
order to emphasize in the
most vivid maimer possible just who comjjrise this undesirable comi)any, its chief members have l)een assembled in the accompanying colored
in the Black List
Of ((uadru])cds, the most cons])icuous offenders are foxes, weasels, sc(uirr(>ls and house eats. The depredations of foxes are too well known lo recpiire much comment; the answers to the Conservation Connnission's ruffed grouse questioimaire would be sufficient condenuiation, if any were needed. As a matter of fact, every sportsman and e\(>ry farmer knows only too well from his own experience that the fox is one of the most bloodthirsty marauders in all nature. In si)ite of the fact that they are widely hunted with hounds and beset with traps, and in s])ite of the present value of their ])elts, foxes seem to be on the increase, and only l)y more strenuous warfare upon them can these greatest enemies of
The natural cleverness of the fox makes his capture in a trap no easy matter, and success will follow only ])erseveranee and the utmost care in obliterating human scent throughout all operations.
In places where there are springs and small streams, there
of trajiping foxes than the old water set, which is " It is best to find a spring w hicli does not freeze, as follows:'
but for early
small streams sometimes mak(\s trouble, and a si)ring or
spring sliould be at least four
set in the
diameter and should be pre])ared for the
be fixed up during the tra])ping .season. A moss covered ston(\ or a sod (according to siu'roundiugs) should be i)laced about a foot and a half from shore, and should rise about
two or three inches above the water. This is the bait sod. The tra]) is set half way between the sod and the shor<\ and the jaws, springs and chain should be covered with mud. or whatever is found
the l>ottom of the spriiig.
trap should just
be co\(>red with water.
piece of moss or sod should
placed on the ])an of the trap, so
lA. H. Uaidiiin, Pub., St. Louis,
'rr;ipi)itiK," p. 113.
Friends and Foes of Wild Life
an inch above the water. When ])r()])erly placed, and will apparently be a safe stepping place for the fox. The pan should be so adjusted, by means of a dried goldenrod stalk or otherwise, so that it will not s|)ring too
this sod will look natnral
small piece of bait and preferably also some
should be placeti on the larger sod.
this set the trap])er should
wade up the
the spring, and stand in the water while making the
touch the bank or any of the surroundings.
trap should be
Water Set for Trapping Foxes
with a chain about three feet
length, with a two-])rong
drag attached, but most trap|)ers simply wire a stone of eight or The drag, whatever is ten pounds' weight to the end of the chain.
used, should be buried in the bed of the spring. " The flesh of the muskrat, skimk, opossum or house-cat
allowed to taint by remaining
about a week in a glass jar. Two men have been known to catch over one hundred foxes in a season with this method, besides considerable other furs taken in the same traps, for the method is good for many other animals besides the fox.
setting the traj) in exactly the
manner, except that the bait sod
omitted, and the
from R. L. Hayes,
Hlooniiiit;clale, Esisex Co.,
New York — Coxservatiox
means of a stick tlinist in the bottom of must be entirely out of siuht, and the bird Both of these methods are very floatine; in the water. are especially recommended for the novice, as they are and surest mi^thods to start on."
Weasels and Squirrels
hunting instinct of weasels and their insatiable desire known to all. They are not satisfied with suj)plying
call for food, but,
unhesitatingly attack prey
and ruffed grouse
family, the red squirrel
admittedly the most
have few redeeming
Nelson, Chief of the Biological Survey, U. S. Department of Agriculture, writes: " The worst trait of the red squirrel is his
thoroughly ])roved habit of eating the eggs and young of small
season he spends a large part of his
predatory nest hunting and the number of useful and beauti-
he thus destroys must be almost incalculable.
The number The
of red squirrels
very great over a continental area, and one close
birds a season.
observer believes each squirrel destroys
notable scarcity of birds in northern forests
be largely due to
handsome but young
red scpiirrels are far
than gray squirrels or chipmunks, the largest
consists of nuts, acorns
cats only with the
I)y domestic cats would accustomed to associate
of the kitchen fireside.
Dr. Frank M. Natural History believes
l^ractically all of these
that there are not less than
cats in the United States
and that there may be twice that
cats gain ])art of their livelihood by hunting.
cats that are
whereas oft(Mi unobserved, at night or in the early morning killing vagrant cats, abandoned cats, surj)lus cats and cats gone wild form
•Nat. GeoKiaplii.- May.,
to indulge their natural instinct of bird
Friends and Foes of Wild Life
probably the most dangerous destructive
bers are considered, that
force, wlien tlieir
and game birds have to cope with. The wide extent to which cats carry on their dejjredations is revealed by their tracks in the snow in game covers far from any human habitation. E. H. Forl)ush, State Ornithologist of ^Massachusetts, writes of " two Maine trappers who asserted that as many cats as other fur-bearing animals were caught in their traps even in locations ujiward of thirty miles from any house or clearing."'' The cat nuisance can be remedied only by the cooj)eration of farmers and other harborers of cats in closely limiting the number of cats on their premises and in destroying their litters; and by
the assistance of sportsmen in shooting hunting cats found afield.
State was the first state to take cognizance of the cat menace to bird life in the enactment of a "cat law" in April, 1918, which ]jrovides that " Any person over the age of twenty-one years, who is the holder of a valid hunting and trapping license, may, and
be the duty of a game protector or other peace
humanely destroy a cat at large found hunting or killing any bird protected by law or with a dead bird of any species protected by law in its possession; and no action for damages shall be maintained for
In a discussion of birds in the vermin class,
that under the provisions of the
of the Federal
Migratory Bird Law, one
this State only the
English sparrow, starling, crow, hawk, snow-owl,
great gray owl, great horned owl, and kingfisher.
English sparrow, starling and kingfisher, which, while they
regarded as a nuisance
in certain fields,
may be do not come exactly within
the category of vermin,
which has well been
to a consideration of the crow, artist at the toj) of the " Black
In a bulletin lately issued
of Pennsylvania' upo;i
the Board of (iame Commissioners
combating the crow, he
as the leader of
of all kinds,
destroys individually more birds
bird that ever flapped a wing."
and young poultry than any other Certain it is that anyone who has
ceaseless procession of crows winging their
"TJip Doniestif Cat," State Board of Agrifulture, Bostc sChap. 333, Laws of 191S, Conservation Law, §193-b. "The Crow," Bui. Xo. 3, Harri-burg, Pa.
Xkw Ydhk — Conservatiox
late aftcnioun to tlicir
roostiiiu place, or leaving'
has been iniinx'ssed with the treinen(h)u.s a^'ureuate
iniisl l)e (h)ne hy this army of l^lack marauders, wliose iium])ers seem to have no end. A jucUcious use of j)oison and the gun are
cure for the crow's
found that crows can often
easily l)rought within
.\11 birds seem to gun range through the use of a stuti'ed owl. haxe an instinctive fondness for tormenting owls which they may discover abroad in the daylight, and by displaying a large stufl'ed owl in some conspicuous spot and then imitating the call of the
AIobbixc; a Stuffed
crow from the crows
nearby hiding place,
possible to gather together
added assistance in this fiui of fooling the crows is an arrangement by which the stulh'd owl can be made to mo\e its head and wings when certain strings are |)ulled.~' For tht)se who are not good bird mimics a "crow call"' is also d<>sirable. This is a small wooden instrument resembling a whistle and can be j)urchased from any sporting goods dealer oi- hardware store for from se\enty-hve cents
their (>agerness to
to on<> dollar.
the help of a stuti'ed owl, skillful use
often attract crows within gun shot.
Von Lengorkf &
Stuffed owls Willi this iiicrhaiiisiii inav Vu- lnuicrlit Dcdnolil, I'iMi .'itli Ave, X. V.
Fred Sauter, 42 Hleeckor
X. V., and
Friends and P\)es of Wild Life
Birds of Prey
prey — hawks
otter a far
between those species which are harmfnl and those which do more good than harm. It is to be regretted that the Conserxation Law
uses the general
word " hawk "
of birds beneficial
be shot at
seasons, regardless of the
hawks which inhabit the State. In the case of owls a reasonable distinction is made in the law, only the "snow-owl, great gray owl and great horned owl " being in the un])rotected class. Of these three, the snow owl (or snowy owl, as it is more often called) and great gray owl are both so rare as very seldom to be seen by the ordinary sportsman or farmer. The snowy owl occurs very irregularly
in winter; the great
to the Adirondack forests.
that occur in
the State —
horned owl, on the other All three are A'ery large owls the largest to '•27 inches in length. and range from
All of the owls of smaller size are included in the lieneficial class
their chief food
being mice — and
they are |)rotected by the State
throughout the year. The only protected owl that ap]>roaches in size the three improtected kinds is the l:)arred owl, which is our commonest woodland owl and, considering the quantity of harmless rodents it disposes of in a year, is a friend of both farmer and sjjortsnian.
Unlike the great horned owl,
has no ear tufts.
The Great Horned Owl
in a class
the great horned owl.
the damage it does to usefid wild This " tiger among birds " should be voracious a]>i)etite, powerful frame and
habit of hunting at night,
of its victims are aslee]) and an exceedingly dangerous enemy of partridges, pheasants, fur-bearing animals, rabbits and other game, Every lover of as well as of the inhabitants of the i)oultry yard. birds knows how the quail covey sleeps in a little circle on the ground each night in al)out the same spot. Let a great horned owl once discover the sleeping place of a covey of ([uail, and he will
combine to make
" to the very last bird.
The Hawk Family
identify correctly the \'arious
in the field
puzzling even to an expert, and
to be expected
that sportsmen and farmers
New York — Conservation
the beneficial species, will haAC difficulty
take the pains to learn,
using the accompanying plates to
that have been shot, be long before they can readily distinguish the freeallies.
booters of the bird world from some of man's best feathered
Whether a hawk
few isolated acts.
will eat flesh
and blood, and
stress of starvation or the pressure of hungry nestlings to be fed,
hawk is seen to take a quail or young chicken, the conclusion must not be jumped at that the majority of his meals Fortunately we are not obliged to rely consist of just this prey.
a certain kind of
upon guess-work or surmises in this connection, for the U. S. BiologiSurvey has made an exhaustive study of the food habits of hawks not from field observations, and has learned what each kind eats but from actual examination of the stomach contents of hundreds of hawks, taken at all seasons of the year and in [many localities, and Dr. A. K. Fisher, of the Biological Survey, sent to AYashington.
has published the conclusions of these investigations as Circular 61,
Hawks and Owls from
the Standpoint of the Farmer,"
of authoritative information
be secured for
this much misunderstood from the Superintendent
Documents, Washington, D. C.
the data ol)tained,
the exception of the very rare duck hawk, there are only three kinds These are the of hawks that deserve a ])lace in the " Black List."
goshawk, the Cooper's hawk, and the sliar])-shinned hawk. As may be seen in the colored ])late, these three hawks are all similar in coloring and shape.
so to speak, merely a
smaller edition of the C(K)j)er's hawk, which, in turn, resembles a
a northern s])ecies
in the colder
when food is scarce in its it descends in great numbers upon our forests and covers, and decimates the supply of ))artri(lges, rabbits and i)oultry to an appalhng extent. Called, sometimes, " partridge hawk," ami " lihie darter," it is relentless and fearless in pursuit of its (piarry, little regarding the presence of man, and seldom failing in the capture of its intended victim. Cooper's hawk is In- far the most (k'structive hawk in New York Slate, not l)ecause it is iiKhxiihiallv worse than the goshawk.
months. Canadian home,
AND Foes of Wild Life
that the aggregate
much more numerous
does far exceeds that of
other birds of
the names of " chicken
To Cooper's hen hawk " ought
properly to be given, instead of being misapplied to the more con-
but practically harmless, red-shouldered and red-tailed Almost every stomach of Cooper's hawk examined by the Biological Survey contained remains of wild birds and poultry. The sharp-shinned hawk, a miniature of Cooper's hawk, is It employs the fully as destructive to bird life as its larger cousin. same swift, " darting " methods of pursuit, and sometimes even relentlessly follows its prey on foot through the imdergrowth. Of 107 stomachs containing food that were examined, no less than 105 contained birds. Among the victims it was possible to recognize the remains of nearly fifty kinds of Ijirds, ranging from quail, mourning doves and flickers which are as large as the sharpshinned hawk itself down to birds as small as warblers and
The goshawk. Cooper's hawk, and sharp-shinned hawk form the group of hawks whose habits are responsible for the condemnation
of birds of prey as a class.
All farmers and sportsmen should learn and kill them whenever possible. Their comparatively short, rounded wings, their long tails, their characteristic flights wdiich, in pursuit of prey, is low and dashing, and in the open consists of alternate flapping and sailing ^and their usual silence of voice, all serve to distinguish them from the useful group of hawks. The latter watch for their prey from some conspicuous perch or while soaring slowly on outspread wings, and all have characteristic cries that can easily be recognized by anyone who takes the trouble to
group have been assembled in LIST, and include the red-tailed hawk, the red-shouldered hawk, the broad-winged hawk, the sparrow hawk and the marsh hawk. The rough-legged hawk also falls in
The commonest members
the plate entitled
this group, l)ut
so rare that, to avoid perplexity,
omitted from the plate.
While classing these hawks as mainly beneficial, it is not to be all of them may make an occasional raid upon the poultry yard or take an occasional game bird. But these irregularities are more than outweighed by their good services in waging constant warfare upon noxious rodents and insects during most of the year.
Xkw York — Conservation
Red-tailed and red-shouldered hawks, w
are so closely
soaring hawks, so familiar to every dweller splentlid, "" is so freeoiuitry, and lo which the misnomer " hen hawk in the
food, as learned
Fisher describes their
examinations, to be mice^
with fro^s, snakes and crawfish also
Of the two sjjecies, perhai>s the red-lailetl hawk is sliii,htly more " harmful " than its red-shouldered cousin, abont 7 per cent of its
food consisting of |)onltry or game, according to Dr.
pair of red-shouldered hawks are recorded to have nested for successive years within a few hundred yards of a poultry farm con-
young chickens and 400 ducks, and the owner never
them attempt to catch a fowl. of the members of the The " whitest
sha])e to the red-tailed
common, excei)t more sluggish by Insects form the
largest j^art of
for the large, juic\'
seems to ha\e a special predilection caterpillars, which devom- the leaves of trees
and are too formidable for the smaller insectivorous Snakes, frogs and toads are its second choice. birds to attack. Of oH stomachs of broad-winged hawks that were found to contain food upon exa.mination, .SO contained insects and "^l- contained rej)contained remains of small birds. Only tiles, frogs, and toads. wholesale war upon hawks or indiscriminate Certainly, by any bounty system, it would be folly to (lesti-t)y as valuable a bird as and
the broad-winged liawk.
The marsh hawk's
not (piite so clean.
familiar long-winged hawk, which
so often seen sailing low o\'er
In some plumages it is gray, in others l)rown, always easily distinguishable by the consi^icuous white but it It beats tirelessly over the ground and ])atch upon the iMunp. occasionall\' pounces suddeidy down upon soine luckless meatlow
meadow and marsh.
or othei- crealiu'e hiding
the grass below.
more good than harm, as may be seen from Dr. "Of \'2i stomachs examined, 7 contained Fisher's statement: other manunals; poultry, or game birds; SI. other birds; .")7, mice; re])tiles; '2, frogs; 14, insects; 1. indeterminate matter; and 8 were 7,
Adult male (chased by red-winged blackbird)
Fri?:nds and Foes of
the '"White List" group,
so often seen standing
telegraph pole or dead tree
the roadside, or else hovering, as
oecasional weakness for very
a " clean
in the spring-time,
seasons of the year
the s])arro\v hawk might receive But surely we nuist agree that at other more than makes reparation for any possible
the i)oultry yard, when we read the stomachs, wherein " 1 contained a game bird;
mannnals; VI, reptiles or batrachians; "^lo, (Grasshoppers, crickets insects; 29, spiders; and "29 were empty." and beetles form its ])rincipal food during the warm montiis, while mice predominate during the rest of the year. In his " Hawks and Owls from the Stand])oint of the Farmer,"
Dr. A. K. Fisher writes of a Mr. W. B. Hall, of Wakeman, Ohio, " who, while the hawk law was in force in Ohio, was township clerk in his native village and issued 86 bounty certificates; of these, 46
were for sparrow hawks.
the stomachs and found 45
to contain the remains of grassho])i)ers
one contained the fur and bones of a
mouse." The sparrow hawk has many local names, among them V)eing " Killy Hawk," from the sound of its cry KUbi-kUhi-lciUji-kUhi " Pigeon Hawk," because its flight is thought to resemble that and There is another hawk called Pigeon Hawk by orniof a pigeon.
thologists, a bird of about the
shai)e as the s])arrow
hawk, but with a dark
beneficial and harmful
l)lue or l)i'own
back, instead of reddish.
— and for
occurring only as a j^assing has l)een omitted from both of the
legally be killed in New York is This splendid bird of prey, which cannot the osprey fail to arouse the admiration of the onlooker, whether it be soaring on outstretched pinions or i)lunging with wonderful aim beneath the surface of the water, should long ago have l)een i)laced in the
hawk which may
or fish hawk.
protected class, together with the eagles, for which
that are undesirable as
food, and, except that
occasionally takes a few good
no bad habits. It is i)erhaps unnecessary to add that the so-called night-hawk is an insectivorous bird and not a true hawk.
New York — CoNSEin atiox
That the inisdceds
birds of j^rey
into wholesale eondeinnation
must he evident
— the ureat horned owl, ti'oshawk, hawk — the commoner hawks and
lie will see that with the exeeption of four
owls are indefatijiable
the interest of farmer and s])()rtsman.
Conservation to make known the beneficial qualities of most rapacious birds, it is equally the ])art of Conservation to impress upon sportsmen and farmers alike the harm that can he
i)art of true
done and is done by the noxious birds iiiclud(>d in the " Black List," and which are \'ermin. Every lover of the valual)le game and useful wild life of the great outdoors would do well to stutly closely the creatures included in the " Black List " plate, to learn to know them and to set his hand The saying " Look after the vermin and the game against them. will look after itself," is a saying which has stood and will stand
the test of time.
Destrov the vermin.
by H. H. Cleaves, reproduceii bypermission of theXational Geographic Magazine
Ospkicy — a
Hakmless Hawk That Should Be Protected
LIBRARY OF CONGRESS
486 610 9
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