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100 Years Ago: August 1921


This is the 79th post in my series of reviews of one-hundred-year-old National Geographic magazines.



The first article in this month’s issue is entitled “The Wild Life of Lake Superior, Past and Present” and has the internal subtitle, “The Habits of Deer, Moose, Wolves, Beavers, Muskrats, Trout, and Feathered Wood-Folk Studied with Camera and Flashlight”.  The article was written by George Shiras, 3rd, a third-generation hunter of that region.  His grandfather, George, Sr., visited starting 1849; his father, George, Jr., started fly-fishing there in 1859; and the author began exploring the area in 1870, first with a rod and a gun, but later with a camera and a flashlight.  Mr. Shiras was also the author of such National Geographic articles as “Photographing Wild Game with Flashlight and Camera”, “Wild Animals That Took Their Own Picture by Day and by Night”, “One Season’s Game-Bag with the Camera”, “A Flashlight Story of an Albino Porcupine and of a Cunning but Unfortunate Coon”, “The White Sheep, Giant Moose, and Smaller Game of the Kenai Peninsula, Alaska”, and “Nature’s Transformation at Panama”.  The cover states that the article came “With Frontispiece and 75 Additional Illustrations”.  However, the article contains seventy-six black-and-white photographs of which ten are full page in size.  In addition, the article contains a sketch map of the Lake Superior region on page 114:

Note: One of the few that Phil missed.

The frontispiece mention on the cover is a tipped-in pictorial supplement entitled “Hark!”.  It measures 9 3/4 inches by 13 1/4 inches (two pages in size, folded down the middle).  Its caption reads “One of a group of four night pictures first establishing the beauty and accuracy of the camera and flashlight in big-game photography.”   It should be noted that the term “flashlight” used by the author should really be read as “flashbulb” as on a flash camera.

Pictorial Supplement Courtesy of Philip Riviere

Mr. Shiras broke this article into chapters, as if he was writing a book.  In Chapter I, he first described Lake Superior itself.  The lake was nature’s greatest reservoir of fresh water, four hundred and fifty miles long, and sixty-seven miles wide. It had a maximum depth of a thousand feet, with the bottom being four hundred feet below sea level.  The lake had two hundred tributary streams, whose basin claimed the greatest snow accumulation east of the Mississippi.  Superior overflowed in a series of rapids through a channel on its eastern end out into the beautiful Sault Ste. Marie River.  The author then turned to geology.  He mentioned the three great divisions – Archean, Algonquin, and Cambrian – without going into much detail.  There were fine iron and copper deposits in the region, as well as marble and granite, slate and sandstone.  He chose to treat the rocks as two basic divisions, those of crystalline or of sedimentary origin. Included in the latter was the “Lake Superior sandstone”, unique in containing little or no fossil remains, indicative of its early formation.  The surfaces of the rocks were scored by glacial action.  The strata of sandstone had been fashioned by the elements into fantastic shapes separated by high cliffs of variegated colors.  Those cliffs contain caverns into which large craft could enter.  One group on the southern shore was known as “Pictured Rocks”, a natural phenomenon without a counterpart in coastal scenery.  The northern shore resembled Alaska, with many trout streams cutting through conifer forests.  There was also an archipelago of wooded islands, some surmounted by rocky domes.  The larger islands contained moose, deer, caribou, and bear.  The south shore resembled more the northern Atlantic coast, with cliffs and promontories separated by long stretches of sandy beaches and deep bays.  Circling the coast, the forests were much the same, except the rotund spruce of Ontario was replaced by towering hemlocks, whose roots turned the streams red.  The speckled trout were a darker brown and red there than those on the north shore, which were pink and silver.

When the railways and the logging roads reached the higher ground, they discovered forests of hardwood consisting of millions of acres of maple in solid stands, with an abundance of beech, birch, basswood, ash, and elm.  This led to the development of many woodworking establishments and the largest wood charcoal furnace in the world.  With the abundance of sugar maples, syrup production could exceed that of Vermont and New Hampshire.  With clearing of the older forest came a second growth of low-branched, symmetrical trees, one of which, the soft maple, was spreading rapidly.  Equally abundant was the yellow-leafed poplar, while beech and wild cherry were interspersed with the mountain ash.  The variety of trees provided a colorful display of flowers, berries, and fall leaves.  The interior lakes and ponds duplicated the colors in their mirrored surfaces, enhancing the beauty.  Lake Superior was thoroughly explored and was a busy field for the Jesuit missionaries long before any other portion of the western country had been visited by the white man.  In 1658, Radisson, the fur trader, gave the first written description of the south shore, followed by Father Menard in 1660, by Allouez in 1665, and by Marquette in 1669.  There was evidence that white men were visited there long before those dates.  It was believed that Roberval’s men reached there as far back as 1542.  Among the first resident Indians on Lake Superior were the Ojibways, commonly called Chippewas.  Belonging to the Algonquins, it was thought that they were driven west, along the Great Lakes by the warlike Iroquois, and, on reaching the terminal waters, found the Sioux in possession.  Then ensued bitter warfare.  The Ojibways, having a continuous supply of guns and ammo from the east, drove the Sioux into the prairie, where they changed their habits and became pony Indians.  The dividing line was Minnesota where trappers recognized the tribes by the conical lodges of the Sioux versus the domed ones of the Ojibways.  In the early days, there were neither moose nor deer, and very few caribou.  This compelled the people to live largely on fish.  The rapids on the Sault Ste. Marie River remained open during winter allowing year-round fishing.  By 1921, there were very few Ojibways along the south shore, but were still in considerable numbers in western Ontario and in northeastern Minnesota.

In Chapter II, the author begins to tell of his exploits in the region.  In 1869, he was presented with his first gun, a small-bore muzzle-loader.  He was able to bag a few squirrels, quail, and rabbits in the wooded country below Pittsburgh.  He had been given the gun in preparation of the coming trip to Lake Superior the following year.  He had heard about the region his whole life, and he desired to see it with his own eyes, the lake and its streams, the forests, the wildlife, and the natives.  The author was fated to continue in this inherited privilege.  Half a century had passed in his studies of the wildlife.  Over that time, the marked decline of some forms had been compensated by the gradual appearance of species new to the region, accompanied by the gradual recovery of some valuable birds, animals, and fish so unwisely decreased in pioneer days.  The family party started a camping trip to the mouth of the Huron River, fifty miles west of Marquette, a remote portion of the south shore.  They traveled by steamer to within five miles of the shore, several yawls, with canoes in tow.  Soon they were underway.  They passed the Huron Island, dotted with nesting herring gulls.  Those islands would be made a bird refugee by President Roosevelt some thirty-five years after the authors first visit.  They landed in a small clearing near the entrance of the river, and the tents were erected.  The author found the next ten days most interesting.  The Indian guides were the objects of greatest interest.  Trout, grouse, and pigeons were abundant, and many deer tracks were seen along the banks.  Among the guides was one first employed by the author’s grandfather in 1850.  He was called Jack La Pete.  He was small, thin, and active.  During long contact with pioneers, and acting as guide to those seeking game and fish, he came to possess a great knowledge of worldly affairs.  He had spent a year in Washington as an interpreter.  Around the campfire in the evenings, he made them little birch-bark canoes, a fan out of the tail of a grouse, and a shot-pouch from the skin of a muskrat.  He told them many weird tales, including a personal interview with the great Manitou.

The author and two other boys, all between nine and twelve, made a one-night visit to the mouth of Dead River, several miles north of town, without the aid of guides or elders.  Marquette, like most early communities of the north, had no suburbs.  Harsh winters deterred all but Indians from living outside the settlement.  Assisted up the beach by a one-horse wagon, they were deposited by a pyramidal rock at the mouth of the river.  There was plenty of driftwood for a continuous campfire; no axes or guns were allowed.  They also could not go swimming in the river due to quicksand.  The pathless swamps and dense forests beyond were full of dangerous animals.  The tent, when erected, leaned much to one side.  The remaining part of the day was spent fishing.  After the trout were cleaned and battered with flapjack mix, they discovered they had forgotten the butter and lard.  They enjoyed the burned fish and batter anyway, scraping it from the pan with a knife.  They had an abundance of jam, bread, and cookies.  They had a large beefsteak in the tent for breakfast, which they would broil over the fire since they had no grease.  As dusk approached, a roaring sound came from the interior and gradually grew louder.  They imaged it a forest fire approaching.  As night fell, they retired to the tent.  The author occupied the front of the tent.  Their covering consisted of a single blanket each.  About midnight, the fire burned low and to keep warm the blankets were drawn over their heads.  Suddenly Mr. Shiras heard a snuffling sound beyond the tent, and then a couple of heavy feet press down on the blanket, followed by some animal seizing the package of meat and dragging it away.  Still wrapped in his blanket, he rolled over his tentmates and shouted “Bears!  Bears!”  The group jostled to get to the rear of the tent, then one of his companions fired a revolver repeatedly toward the opening in the tent.  He had brought the forbidden weapon, just in case.  Under the protection of that weapon, the fire was replenished.  At the edge of the swamp appeared the glowing eyes of wild creatures held at bay by its flames.  At daybreak, the camp was abandoned, but not before large tracts were noted on the sandy beach.  They later found out that their visitor was only a stray Indian dog.  That particular camping site had changed and by 1921, the largest charcoal furnace in the world was now operating on one side of the river, which was spanned by a steel bridge, and just beyond was the largest concreate dock on the Great Lakes, where six- to seven- hundred-foot freighters replaced the birch canoes.  A shore driveway, with a multitude of cars, occupied the sand beach.

Early in August, one of the author’s companions on the previous camp learned that two miles south of the town, and several hundred yards above the mouth of the Carp River, was a salt lick much frequented by deer.  The valley beyond was a wilderness visited only by a few trout fishermen.  The animals came down the stream to the lick almost in sight of the highway following the lake shore.  The friend had shot a deer from a scaffold facing the salt log, using a Martini-Henri carbine.  The author was honored when his friend chose him to try for a deer at the lick.  Only his friend knew the location.  Several days later, upon reaching the spot, Mr. Shiras found a high scaffold supported by four poplar trees and ascended by rickety ladder.  An old log had been bored full of auger-holes and filled with salt.  Each rain caused the salt water to overflow, keeping the lick fresh.  For about ten feet on each side of the log the trees had been removed, giving a full view of any animal standing in the opening.  By agreement, the author was to fire his shotgun first, and then his friend would use the carbine to insure getting the deer.  First, a man came to the log; fortunately, they didn’t shoot him.  Later came the deer.  The author shot, as did his friend, and the deer turned and ran away.  The boy descended and follow but, not having found any blood, they returned disappointed.  Near dusk, they heard another deer, but it wouldn’t enter the clearing.  They left, disheartened.  For more than fifteen years, (up to 1921,) the State penitentiary had stood on the bank of the river where the salt lick had been.  Several days later, old Jack told the author how he had discovered, two years before, a lake in the unexplored forest, where deer were abundant.  In the summer of 1869, he had been employed as a mail-carrier by surveyors looking over a route for a railroad between Marquette and a point on Lake Michigan.  Upon reaching a deep gorge, the project was abandoned, due to the projected expense of a bridge.  Jack, however, followed the stream in the valley looking for new trapping grounds.  He found the lake where he saw many deer and much evidence of fur-bearers.  Later, he built a half-way shelter at the head of Sand River and a larger one at the lake, where he had a season of successful trapping.  Each place had a cooking outfit and some maple sugar, so only blankets, a gun, and some provisions were needed.

During the second week in August, 1871, the author, his younger brother, and Jack were driven by buckboard to an Indian cabin, near the Chocolay River, where they spent the night.  After a hasty breakfast, they set out on a fairly good trail to the river.  From there, they headed east alone a maple ridge interspersed with hemlock.  The absence of undergrowth made the traveling easy, and the deer trails through the swamps avoided mud-holes and fallen timber.  By noon they reached the Sand River and Jack’s lean-to.  The boys caught a dozen small fish in a stream, to the surprise of Jack.  Toward the evening, a strange noise came from downstream.  Jack said it was a she-bear and her cubs.  The author grabbed his shotgun say he wanted to hunt bear.  Jack rolled up his sleeve and showed them the scars of a bear encounter he survived.  He wouldn’t allow a bear hunt.  Little time was lost in starting the next morning along a blazed trail leading to higher ground.  Occasionally, along the trail, glimpses of Lake Superior could be had.  In the final mile, many fresh deer runways were seen, all converging into larger ones leading towards the lake.  At length, a small clearing ahead indicated their goal, in the center was a shelter shaped like a good-sized wall tent.  It had four-foot side walls of cedar logs and a double pitched roof of black ash bark with a small hole to allow smoke to escape.  On depositing their packs, they were eager to see the lake, but Jack made them eat first and set up beds and gather firewood.  After chores, they went down to the lake.  That little body of water would be an important factor for the author’s, and his family’s destinies.  It was a narrow lake, about a mile long, heavily forested with pine and hemlock.  At one end, a semicircular growth of reeds backed by cedars and black ash indicated an outlet stream.  To the south, a beautiful slough between high hills was seen, with the inlet stream running through a sandy beach.  In the years following that visit, that little slough and the adjacent lands had more deer killed by market hunters and sportsmen than any tract on the continent.  It was at that location where the author originated the sport of hunting with a camera.  There, more deer were photographed, by day and by night, then elsewhere throughout their entire range.  This was the center of the deer country.  Several natural salt licks were located beneath each bank forming the central points of century-old gathering places for all deer within tens of miles.  Deer could be seen, almost continuously, between spring and early winter.  At the time of his first visit, the author was not aware of the licks.

While the boys were intent on noting their surroundings, Jack pulled from under the alders what looked like a log.  It was a dugout made from white pine and containing a paddle and a gill-net.  Thought designed for one person, the boat could carry two of them due to their small size.  Jack made a second paddle out of a dried piece of cedar, and he and the author went on the first hunt.  Leaving his brother at camp, Mr. Shiras and Jack paddled slowly along the western shore towards the reeds and shallow water.  Jack whispered that there was a deer ahead.  As they cleared the reeds, the author spotted his quarry wading near the shore, aimed and fired.  The deer turned and splashed away.  A second shot rang out as the deer leapt over a bush and was gone.  Jack laughed and said there would be another shot within an hour.  They steered the boat to the opposite shore.  After several hours had passed without seeing anything further, they returned to camp.  After supper, they made preparations for fire-hunting, as employed by the Indians.  At dusk, they went down the trail, illuminated by a flaming torch of birch bark.  Placing a frying-pan in the bow of the dugout, containing a handful of pine knots, with strips of bark nearby, to be added when more light was needed, Jack and the author’s brother started out.  Mr. Shiras returned to camp, barely reaching it when he heard a shot ring out.  After a while, the glare of the approaching torch showed Jack leading the way carrying several pickerel taken from a net, while the author’s brother had the gun in one hand and in the other a stick upon which were impaled the heart and liver of the deer, showing the success of the hunt.  The brother told his account of the hunt.  The author decided to go, early next morning, in search of his deer, to see if he had shot it, or to bag another one if not.  He paddled, clumsily to the spot, pushed the bow of the boat into the bushes, and jumped clear of the muddy edge, seizing a projecting snag for support.  He was startled to find that the snag was the hind leg of his deer.  An examination showed that nine buckshot had passed entirely through the body, piercing both heart and lungs.  That demonstrated how far a deer would run when mortally wounded.  The author dragged the deer through the bush, but fell into the mud when giving it a tug when it got snagged.  He managed to get the carcass aboard, and upon nearing the end of the lake, his triumphant shouts awoke the sleepers.  They rushed down the path, thinking their missing companion was in trouble.  The sight of the dugout and its muddy occupants told the story of the clandestine, and successful, trip.  During the day, the meat of the two deer was partly dried in strips before a hardwood fire.  That reduced the edible portions to a point in which they could be carried home.  During the next ten years, the author repeated this trip often, being made each way in a single day, sometime with extra packers so no meat was wasted. In 1881, a railroad was constructed between Marquette and Sault Ste. Marie, passing between Lake Superior and the camp, making it readily accessible.  For fifty consecutive years, the author’s trip there had grown longer and more frequent.

Mr. Shiras started Chapter III with a description of the white-tail, or Virginia deer.  It had a wider distribution than any other antlered animal, and was likely to continue indefinitely, aided by its ability to adapt itself to changing conditions.  It was the favorite big-game animal of America, for its meat was palatable, its antlers symmetrical, and it was a cunning quarry.  Animals like moose and elk were seldom killed by sportsmen after one or two sets of antlers had been secured.  Those animals were so large, it was difficult to save the meat in remote places, whereas deer weighed less and were found closer to transportation.  The author had experienced white-tails throughout its range, from Central America to its northern limit, but in this narrative, he confined himself to the deer of the Lake Superior region.  The white-tail, while abundant in 1921, was unknown on the north shore in 1870.  Moreover, there were few within a mile of the south shore, due to the ever-present Ojibways.  But when the country to the south began to be settled, most of the deer spent the summers near Lake Superior.  The fact that 80,000 deer were killed each year of 1879, 1880, and 1881, and most within a mile of the lake, showed their extraordinary increase.  Since then, there had been a gradual, steady decline in numbers killed due to an increase in hunters due to easier access to the region.  Every summer and fall, the author spent a portion of each week camping on the south shore; traveling in a rowboat, often with a canoe in tow.  He fished in open water and in the streams.  Pigeon and grouse were numerous. Whenever the camp was near a small lake, the canoe was carried over, and during the day a deer could generally be killed.  In the course of time, all the bays and sheltered points for more than 150 miles were visited, including each lake and pond, and every stream were fish or game abounded.  In that long period, only once or twice was the party windbound for more than a day, and at no time in the slightest peril from wind or wave.  Heavy gales were rare on Lake Superior, and the wind seldom exceeded 40 miles an hour.  Shipwrecks were almost unknown; though occasionally, when shore or reef were shrouded in a snowstorm, and again, on very rare occasion when an ore-boat, with its immense tonnage and long, steel hull, developed a structure weakness in rough seas [Edmund Fitzgerald?].

Other trips were also made into the interior, where chains of lakes offered a change of scenery, and of methods of hunting.  These always included a visit to the little camp by Whitefish Lake.  The market hunters, seldom killed less than 150 deer a season.  One hunter camped a few miles south of Whitefish Lake.  Like clockwork, a horse would pass by each day loaded with saddles of venison, to be shipped by express to Detroit or Chicago, while the remains of the carcasses were left to rot.  That slaughter in the neighborhood continued for five seasons; then a ban was placed on the sale of venison and the killing fell off for a while.  Unlike buffalo and caribou, white-tail deer were not migratory.  However, some species of the deer family, such as elk and mule deer, and the moose, ascended regularly in the spring to higher grounds for better food and to escape insects, returning when snow and frost made the lowlands preferable.  Those movements were altitudinal and not latitudinal, and therefore not migratory.  On the south shore of Lake Superior there once existed a spring and fall movement of white-tail deer characteristic of a true migration.  That habit was abandoned thirty-five years prior, and was unusual considering the habits of the deer elsewhere in its range.  Early may, as soon as the depth of snow allowed travel, thousands of does traveled north to the south shore, where a few weeks later the fawns were born.  The bucks followed later, by early June.  On the coming of the first heavy north winds, sometimes as early as mid-August, the does, fawns, and yearlings started south.  In October most of the bucks had gone south.  Those migrating deer always traveled with the wind and never against it, and always in the daytime, usually between 7 and 4 o’clock.  It was characteristic of caribou to depend upon scent rather than sight or hearing.  Headed against the wind and in more or less open country, the caribou of Newfoundland relied on the telltale scent to give warning a long distance in advance.  On the other hand, the white-tail deer moved cautiously through wooded country, always depending on the eye and ear for any danger ahead, and were able to scent any foe approaching from the rear, be it man or wolf.  The author first learned of this migration shortly after reaching Lake Superior.  On several occasions one of his hunting companions spoke of the annual visit each fall of his father to locations along the Northwestern Railroad between Negaunee and Escanaba, where the deer crossed the tracks in great number on the coming of the first cold north wind.

In 1874, the author joined that party.  The camp was located behind a sand-dune at a station called Helena.  At that point, the railroad cut through a number of hardwood ridges, with open, nearly dry swamps between them.  Some deer followed large runways in the timber, crossing the track where there were deep cuts.  Others came at a trot through the swamps.  The hunting was good for about forty miles along the tracks, but most of the deer passed between Little Lake and Maple Ridge, coming from between Marquette and Pictured Rocks (see: sketch map).  A similar migration occurred west of Marquette and throughout northern Wisconsin.  One deer the author shot fell on the tracks with an oncoming train.  The author reached it and pulled it away just in time while the engineer waved his cap in congratulations.  On one of the fall camps at Helena, an Irish miner with an ancient, rusty weapon asked to borrow a headlamp to get a deer at night.  He was given the lamp, with instructions how to use it.  Off he went, down the tracks.  In the course of half an hour came a particularly heavy report.  After waiting several hours, they went to bed wondering what had happened.  At daybreak, the section boss came and informed them that the miner had shot at a cat in a window of a darken, unseen section-house.  He had killed the cat, damaged the house, and riled the occupants.  The miner had run away when he realized what he had done.  Toward noon, a stranger appeared and deposited the lantern by the tent.  They asked him what had happen to the miner.  He told them that Pat had crawled into the tent with a tale about being chased by wild Indians with tomahawks and spears.  He said he was heading back to the mines, and that was all the deer hunting he needed for the rest of his life.  The number of hunters increased along the railroad each fall.  The Indians had long used fenced to herd the migrating deer into kill-zones.  In 1885, twelve years after the author’s first hunt of migratory deer, he arrived on what was unfortunately his last hunt.  A barbed-wire fence was strung for miles on the south side of the track, and post holes were dug on the opposite side.  Feeling that such hunting was unfair, the author gathered his outfit and left on the next train.  Thus ended the deer migration of many centuries.  By 1921, the great runways were obliterated by bushes and fallen trees.

The white-tail deer and the elk were the only members of the deer family with heads bearing a growth of antlers remarkably uniform in size, shape, and number of points.  Several million buck had been killed in the U. S., Mexico and Canada in the past 75 years, with only a few had an abnormal number of points or some unusual malformation.  The yearly buck was called a “spike horn”; the second year the antler had two points and was Y-shaped.  In the third, fourth, and sometimes the fifth there was an additional prong, representing fairly accurately the early years.  Thereafter, there was no means of estimating the age except by the size and massiveness of the beam.  The maximum number of points vary from four to five, according to the range.  In the south, they were usually “four-pointers”; in the north and southwest the largest bucks averaged five points.  The “horning” of young trees was evidence of the beginning of rutting season.  This occurred mid-October each year, some weeks before the does were responsive.  The caribou and elk attack trees with considerable vigor, sometimes breaking off large limbs.  The does bore their fawns on the higher ground, between May 25 and June 25, or seven months after the rut.  On the coming of the heavier frosts, the bucks wander about in the night, rubbing trees and pawing up the ground for some weeks in advance of mating season, which occurred between October 20 and November 20.  Shortly after, the antlers were discarded, usually between December 1 and January 15.  Contrary to general belief, the antlers were not used in defense against predators.  They were shed before the coming of deep snow.  The antlers were purely a sexual manifestation, being freely used in mock battles with a rival.  The larger bucks weighed between 200 and 300 pounds.  It was long apparent to the author that the white-tail of upper Michigan possessed much longer limbs than any of the species elsewhere.  Living permanently in a region of deeper snow, gave longer legs an advantage.  On the other hand, the deer of the lower Allegany Mountains in West Virginia had unusually short legs.

In 1895, the number of deer that could be killed annually was restricted to five for each hunter.  This was expected to be of great future value.  But then an explosion of Marquette County hunting license requests started.  In 1894, there were an estimated 300 hunters in the county.  In 1895, that number was 640; in 1896, 819.  By 1900, the number of hunting licenses issued in Marquette County was 1,306, and by 1919 it had reached 3,379.  The limit of five deer also became a goal – “to bag one’s limit”.  No longer was a hunter satisfied with shooting just one.  The license system in vogue throughout the country had been of great benefit supply each State with ample funds for preserving the game.  It just so happened to have the opposite effect with Michigan’s one big-game animal.  The white-tail deer was the one big-game animal whose perpetuation meant more to the sportsmen of the entire country than any other animal.  The top priority was to protect the females and fawns.  Twenty States had passed that law.  When a buck was shot, the population, in the long run, was barely affected.  But when a doe was shot, by ten years, the loss in offspring was estimated at 302 deer.  Blindly killing females could lead to extinction, whereas protecting them would lead to perpetuation.  In the author’s boyhood days, it was doubtful that there were a thousand deer in wilder parts of the State of Pennsylvania.  In 1920, 3,000 bucks were killed in the State, and that number was increasing steadily.  In that State, like New York and Vermont, the second growth in rough and mountainous portions had been restocked with game and properly safeguarded.

Chapter IV starts with the sudden disappearance of the passenger pigeon.  The final stand of the passenger pigeon was made in northern Michigan, Wisconsin, and western Ontario.  It was there that Mr. Shiras witnessed the demise of the once countless species.  Gradually, the flocks had been driven from their haunts in the Atlantic coast states and about the Ohio Valley, but from the time he first went to Lake Superior to the date of their sudden disappearance, the wild pigeon seemed to be present each season in its usual abundance.  For a species that far exceeded any other game bird, a gradual decrease could have been attributed to a number of factors, including the continuous hunting and the fact that each pair only had one chick, but their unexpected and inexplicable extinction in, perhaps, a single season constituted the greatest of all ornithological mysteries.  The birds came in vast flocks to Lake Superior in May, and before nesting, they were killed by natives, who fired into the passing flocks.  After the birds had selected a breeding place, the slaughter began.  The birds were netted or killed by the thousands.  About the middle of July, the survivors, with their young, dispersed over the surrounding country, gathering about huckleberry plains and burnt-over districts.  By October they all departed to the south.  It was August 1885, when the author made his usual trip to some large plains covered with huckleberries, ten miles up the shore from Marquette and inland about a mile.  It was his custom to kill, once a year, a large number of pigeons for distribution among friends.  The birds were in their usual numbers.  The next season, he saw a single bird.  He and the other hunters believed that the birds had gone elsewhere but would return the following year.  But not one had been seen since along the Lake Superior shores.  It was not hard for the author to see that it was doomed because it was a migrant.  The rule in each state was to have an open season when such migrants were present, and a closed season after they had gone.  That meant continuous shooting throughout the year.  In 1857, Ohio enacted a law protecting local game birds that did not include wild pigeons, expressly because it was a migrant.  The fact that migrant game birds, above all others, needed protection was not seen at the time.  It wasn’t until the Federal migratory bird law was passed that open seasons were adjusted to protect that class of bird.  [Editor’s note: Mr. Shira’s refrained from stating that in 1904, when as a member of Congress, he wrote the original migratory bird bill.]

The most highly esteemed game bird of the northern uplands was the ruffed grouse.  It was clothed in rich gradations of brown or gray, the neck encircled by a ruff of iridescent black, with a sweeping fan-like tail.  With the extinction of the passenger pigeon, the perpetuation of the ruffed grouse as the sole resident game bird of the region became unusually important.  On the author’s first camping trips, the grouse were found in many clearings, second-growth thickets, and about old lumber roads.  For years, he was under the impression that that bird was well distributed and numerous.  Later, he found that, in the main forest and in localities where water was distant, scarcely a grouse could be seen.  After local hunters increased tenfold, and the automobile gave access to the more remote places, the grouse of upper Michigan declined to a point where extinction was imminent and appeared certain when two cold, wet springs occurred and hardly a young bird survived.  In 1917, the legislature closed the season for two years, and the result exceeded all expectations.  In year one, a great many scattered coveys were noted, and by the next they nearly doubled.  In the spring and summer preceding the open season, the birds were found in numbers never before known.  With a daily limit of five birds and a total of 25 for the season, the author expected the total bagged would hardly equal the best years of early days, but the numbers exceeded one hundred thousand in the short season.  In Minnesota in 1920, under a similar closed season, but with larger bag limits, the total exceeded 500,000 grouse.  The author believed the explosion in population, while aided by the two-year moratorium, was the result on a gradual and favorable change to the environment.  During those two years, the birds reestablished themselves in their old haunts, but also in the thousands of clearings where few birds had ever had a chance before.  Over those two years one pair and their offspring produced some 200 birds, and thus protected, the grouse were able to spread quickly through the entire region.

The daily limit of five birds had resulted in a new form of sport in northern Michigan.  When killing grouse on the ground or in trees, the limit was reached in short order.  The day’s sport ended in a moment.  Therefore, for the first time, many began shooting on the wing, using thousands of shells without much damage to the fleeing birds, but greatly expanding the day’s sport.  Many grouse finally acquired the alertness and caution towards the gun as the grouse of the Eastern coverts.  In the temperate months, the grouse had an excellent choice of food, consisting of a great variety of berries, small fruit, seeds, buds, clover, beechnuts, grasshoppers, and a multitude of young, tender leaves.  In winter, the author wondered how the grouse survived.  They depended largely upon yellow birch buds, and upon evergreen as a last resort.  On cold, clear day, the grouse were active, but if the days and nights were stormy, the grouse would plunge head first from a high branch into a snowdrift where, a foot below the surface, the bird’s body heat was insulated in a globular retreat, until the storm is passed, or hunger forces an exit.  Once, while seated in a tree, the author witnessed a grouse emerge from one of those retreats.  Many years later, while hunting hare, just as a blizzard came sweeping in from Lake Superior, he saw a grouse dive from a tree and into the snow for warmth and protection.  Sometimes in winter or early spring, either a rain came or a warm spell melted the surface snow, followed by severe weather.  Then thousands of grouses were imprisoned, and the heretofore safe retreat became their tomb if weeks passed by before the seal was broken.

In Chapter V, the author switches from fowl to fish.  In 1872, when 12 years old, he had an early introduction to lake trout.  The crew of a schooner becalmed in the vicinity of Stannards Rock, a sandstone reef, some forty-five miles northwest of Marquette, noticed that the reef was surrounded by immense schools of lake trout.  An enterprising captain of a local excursion steamer advertised an expedition to the vicinity, and about seventy-five people, including women and children departed under bright skies and unruffled waters.  At noon, the reef was reached and the steamer anchored in about thirty feet of water.  Soon, ten boats were lowered, each fisherman having a trolling line, as many as four or five lines trailed each boat.  The boats circled the reef, the long lines diverted by larger fish became entangled, while the flopping of those caught caused the women and children to shriek in triumph or dismay.  Several time, the author had on a fish weighing over twenty-five pounds which he needed help landing.  In less than three hours, a thousand fish were taken, averaging ten pounds.  After it was over, it became apparent how difficult it would be to give away five tons of trout among the friends of the participants.  The results of that expedition soon reached the ears of the local fishermen, and for several successive seasons immense catches were made.  In 1921, a lighthouse surmounted that rock as a warning to mariners, and a fitting monument to the myriad of fish that had long since passed away.  On one of the author’s early camping trips for speckled trout, with old Jack as guide, they had forgotten the box containing the cooking outfit.  Instead of turning back, Jack improvised what they needed – a can for a pot, birch-bark plates, hardwood knives, and twigs for forks.  He set up the tent and built the fire while the author fished.  At the next meal, after heating a can of beans, the contents were removed and the can flattened into a frying pan, with a handle made of a split stick.  The pan was used for trout, bacon, and the all-important flapjacks.  It was a lesson the author learned well, when he had to travel light, or when a capsized canoe sent his outfit to the bottom.

Prior to 1890, the range of the speckled trout included all the shore waters for more than a thousand miles, except where sand beaches lacked course gravel or boulders, or continuous cliffs made the steady surge of receding waves an unsuitable location for fish,  Every tributary stream contained trout as almost the sole occupants, with the addition of the lake during the spawning season, unless flowing from headwater lakes, in which case the higher temperature and the existence of pickerel and bass discouraged their presence.  Consequently, good fishing was within easy reach of every settlement and camping place.  The trout occupied a narrow strip within fifty feet of the shore or nearby islets and reefs.  Beyond were the giant lake trout which allowed no trespass in their own domain.  On the other hand, just to the east, Lake Huron, including Georgian Bay, contained no speckled trout, for bass, pickerel, pike, and land-locked salmon abounded.  In 1849, the author’s paternal grandfather went to Lake Superior, intent solely on trout fishing.  At the time, the only way to get there was by a small steamer that was built above the Sault rapids.  To one who had only fished brook trout in the Allegany Mountains, the contrast in size, brilliance, and activity of those in the lake was striking.  After that, George, Sr. lost interest in stream fishing, as the small fish offered no challenge.  He made his own bamboo rods, flies, and dip-nets for catching minnows.  He either fished from a rowboat or from some of the many points separating bays, where there was a steady movement of large trout.  The family records covering 65 years showed the largest trout caught weighed 5½ pounds, with the average ranging between 4 and 4½ pounds.  On the northern, or Canadian, shore the larger fish average about a pound less in weight, except in the Nipigon River, where some reached 10 pounds.  In 1921, the trout along the south shore were approaching extinction.  Occasionally, a fish was taken weighing 6½ pounds; the explanation being there was more food for the few remaining.

Back in 1849, the use of live bait, especially angleworms, was regarded as sportsmanlike.  Every spring, and while the angleworms were still near the surface, small boys were engaged to dig an ample supply in the vicinity of Pittsburgh, and those were taken in a two-gallon can to Lake Superior.  They were placed in a large wooded box filled with black earth.  The box was kept locked, for angleworms were not to be found anywhere along the entire lake or adjoining territory.  Toward the end of the season, if any were left, they were given to other fishermen, none going to waste.  In 1878, on receiving a larger remnant of angleworms than usual, the author planted them in the neighborhood in hopes of a local supply.  At the end of three years, they became very abundant in that little preserve.  Then some were taken to Whitefish Lake and placed in the rich, deep soil near old Jack’s cabin.  Those grew to extraordinary size and far exceeded their Pennsylvanian progenitors.  Carried by streams in the spring, they spread until most of the region showed their presence.  Meanwhile, Marquette had become a systematic point of redistribution, and angleworms had been found scattered along the entire south shore and at either end of the lake.  In 1921, there was still a 150-mile stretch of the north shore where the author had neither seen nor heard of their presence.  If the fly fishermen were no longer concerned about the coming of the angleworm, the history of their naturalization might prove of interest to science.  The robin was a beneficiary, for the worms constituted their chief diet in May and June, before the coming of the berries, and were the sole food of their first brood.  Woodcocks, which once stopped briefly on their migratory flight, would linger for weeks in the alder thickets near the streams, where they found a bountiful supply.  The gardener, too, had found a friend in that little borer, for they assisted in the breaking up and enrichment of the surface soil.

The angler and commercial fisherman, together with a large part of the public, were interested in maintaining a bountiful supple of fish, justifying their support of an effort being made to rehabilitate the fisheries of the Great Lakes.  The recent introduction of the steelhead salmon had added another fine and adaptable fish.  Spawning in the spring, they could use the same streams as the trout, which brooded in the fall.  The species found in Lake Superior were numbered, its depth, purity, and low temperature had barred many.  At one time, the speckled trout, lake trout, and whitefish were plentiful, each occupying a different portion of the lake, according to the depth and character of the water.  The speckle trout depended on minnows, insects, and crustaceans near the shore; the lake trout had an ample supply of herring; while the whitefish, a bottom feeder, in no way interfered with the others.  The speckled trout population barely declined over fifty years herein recorded.  That was until it was discovered that they all congregated in particular streams during August.  The sluggish fish were slaughtered by the thousands.  Fishermen took in hundreds of pounds per day, often salting down the surplus for winter use.  Fishing became poorer each season.  The prompt termination of that indefensible practice, and the equally bad one of running gill nets to the shore, could restore their numbers in a very few years.  The whitefish were generally esteemed as the most delicious of all fresh-water fish.  When nets were few and far between, they were caught in great numbers.  In 1885, 8,000,000 pounds of whitefish were caught.  By 1918, even with commercial fishing a hundred times greater, only 300,000 pounds were taken, thus it was commercially extinct, but with a sufficient remnant that it could be restored, if protected for a while.

At one time, the lake trout were in little demand, whitefish dominated the markets, yet even then, the annual catch was 3,000,000 pounds.  By 1921, they were being heavily fished, with the resulting total less than that of forty years ago.  Worse for the lake trout, herring were replacing the whitefish in the market.  While 300,000 pounds were caught in 1885, by 1918, 8,000,000 pounds were hauled in.  With the herring depleted, any attempt to restore the lake trout became increasingly difficult with its main food supply destroyed.  It had long been recognized that the lack of cooperation between the States and Canadian provinces bordering on the Great Lakes accounted for that situation.  It was to meet that unfortunate situation that the U. S. and Great Britain negotiated and ratified a boundary waters fishery treaty.  But in 1914, the U. S. House of Representatives failed to pass an enabling act, due to minor differences of fishermen in southern Michigan and resistance to removing local regulations.  It was understood that Canada was still willing to see the treaty revived, by it was up to the U. S. to act.  By such coordination of authority and cooperation in activities, the problems could be readily solved.  That such a conclusion was reasonable and not speculative had already been established by the Migratory Bird Treaty, under which our wildlife fowl were being rapidly replenished.

In Chapter VI, Mr. Shiras pivots again, this time he discussed the timber-wolf.  No animal possessed greater sagacity in avoiding its only enemy, man, and few showed greater cunning and persistence in seeking their prey.  The wolf and its descendant, the dog, presented the greatest contrast in their respective attitudes towards man.  One was distrustful and cunning, skulking in the shadows, intent upon rending to pieces any less powerful animal, but having an overpowering dread of man; and the other was affectionate, loyal beyond comparison, and a faithful companion to man, in labor or pleasure.  The wolf had had every occasion to fear man, for he had been trapped, poisoned, snared, shot, harassed by hounds, and had a price put upon his head.  The survivors knew that man was ever their relentless and successful enemy, and only by exercising all of their highly developed senses could they hope to escape death.  In the years spent in some of their many ranges, the author had never seen more than twenty wolves, although he heard their howls and seen their tracks hundreds of times.  Northern Michigan was one of the favorite resorts of the timber-wolf, owing to its dense forests and the abundance of deer and rabbits.  Their, the author had shot a few and trapped or poisoned a dozen or so about the camp.  He was proud of that number, for many who had hunted for over a half century in the area still had not bagged their first wolf.  That was in spite of the fact that there were thousands about Lake Superior.  Nowhere in America had Mr. Shiras ever been able to get an authentic account of a man being deliberately pursued or injured by a wolf, but out of the multitude of such stories it might be that one or two of them were true.  Proof of the wolf’s fear of man was the fact that, every season, thousands of deer carcasses were left over night on the ground or hung from a branch, and yet were undisturbed because of the slight scent left by the hunter.  Even entrails remained untouched until all human traces had disappeared.

Venison was the principal diet of the Lake Superior timber-wolf.  They thought and dreamt about it from puppyhood.  Yet the keen-nosed creatures, when the air was filled with bloody odors, refrained from touching unguarded carcasses.  That was proof that it was safe in the wild; a wolf would not attack for it shrank in terror at a human scent, even about a slain deer.  Such fictitious tales never came from reliable sportsmen or from experienced trappers, but were circulated by lumberjacks, land-lookers, homesteaders, inexperienced hunters, and by sensational writers, who were ever prone to imagine or enlarge upon the supposed perils of the forest.  Twice, the author had a carcass of a deer eaten by wolves when left out overnight – once when the animal was shot, and left, across the lake; and the other when trailing a wounded buck in the snow, the search suspended for the night.  In both cases, there were no trace of human scent, so the wolves had no hesitation in devouring the carcass.  To drive home the point of wolves fearing man, the author to a story of a wolf he had trap who, while frantically trying to escape, died of fright upon hearing a gunshot.  Another time, Mr. Shiras took his rifle and camera towards a trap near which he had heard howling.  Upon reaching it he found an exhausted wolf.  He tried to get a photo, but the wolf refused to stir.  He shot the animal to put it out of its misery.

In the fall of 1896, on Grand Island, the first snow showed the presence of a timber-wolf.  A large number of deer carcasses were found, including several of the imported black-tails.  A large number of traps and poison bait were set out without results.  Then, a dozen of the best shot in the area were brought in to hunt the animal.  It took nearly two weeks of constant hunting to final kill the beast.  That an animal on an island, where it could be readily followed in the snow, was able to escape such a number of experienced hunters for so long showed how hopeless would a similar hunt be on the mainland, where the avenues of escape were infinitely greater.  In the prior fifteen years the coyote unexpectedly appeared in northern Wisconsin and Michigan, coming from Minnesota.  It had become very numerous, feeding on rabbits and killing many young deer, besides threatening sheep.  Some twenty of those animals had been trapped on Grand Island, which was a game preserve, and many were taken each year to the mainland.  In weight they exceeded those of the prairies, evidently responding to the heavily wooded area and the nature of their prey.

In Chapter VII, Mr. Shiras finally starts discussing photography.  He begins by listing his other articles in The Geographic.  [See the intro paragraph to this article.]  In those articles, he had already described with considerable detail the methods employed in natural photography, both day and night, but had omitted largely the history of its gradual development.  In looking over his diaries, beginning in 1878 and continuing to date [1921], the following brief entry appeared in 1886: “Whitefish Lake, July 7-9. – First day wounded a bear on the way out; saw two deer in camp clearing.  Second day photographed a deer.  Guide, Jake Brown.”  At that time, he owned a 5x7 landscape camera with a single lens, of slow speed, which had to be uncapped when an exposure was made.  A tripod was generally necessary.  The use of a tripod in focusing and framing, besides the small aperture of the diaphragm, resulted in well-defined negatives, and also precluded the carelessness so customary with a snapshot camera.  When the time finally came that the vacation was limited to the summer months, with a brief hunt in the fall, the author’s opportunity for outdoor sport was greatly reduced, but the “call of the wild” became intensified by the confinement of city life.  On those summer trips, he lost interest in hunting with a gun, it was no longer enjoyable.  He craved a more exciting sport.  He believed it was that feeling which led him to suggest to Jake Brown (the worthy successor to Jack La Pete) the possibility of photographing a deer.  They outfitted the flat-bottom hunting skiff with a few green boughs in front of the camera.  In hurrying to take pictures, the author ruined his first two negatives.  The third had the deer run away during exposure.  Following that short experiment, it was apparent that only by the best of luck was it possible to get pictures of a deer with such an outfit.

Several seasons previously, a friend of the author had procured a 4x5 outfit called the “Schmidt Detective camera”.  It had a high-grade, rectilinear lens, with a fairly rapid shutter, which could be set and released by a string and button outside the camera.  It served the author’s purpose for the plate-holders and lens were enclosed in a light, tight, waterproof box.  Using that camera, he was able to get several good pictures of deer.  The lens, however was of short focus, so it was necessary to get close to the quarry.  That proved difficult.  During subsequent seasons, that difficulty was overcome by running a tread across a runway or beach, with the camera concealed a short distance away.  Later, when leaving the camera out all day, it could be reset for night with a flashlight, and thus it was at work twenty-four hours a day – an important advantage when in remote wilderness for a brief time.  Another method was for the author to set up several cameras and trigger them, from a scaffold in a tree, by pulling the appropriate strings.  The deer always stopped when the author gave a shrill whistle.  It later surprised the author that he chose such an elusive animal for his first subject, instead of an easier subject, like the porcupine or a squirrel.  He supposed that he simply wanted to hunt deer.  Mr. Shiras wrote in advocacy of that new pastime in an article published in 1891.  It concluded that traveling a thousand miles for a few hundred pounds of large game was too expensive compared to better cuts at the market, and that photography was just as enjoyable, if not more.  He felt photographing a deer at twenty yards gave more immediate and lasting pleasure than putting a ball through its heart from one hundred yards.  He thought of the unlimited freedom the camera gave.  There were no closed seasons, no restriction in number, and no posted land.  By and by, a person would have a collection of pictures affording more enjoyment than all the mental ghosts of the slaughtered quadrupeds and all the moth-eaten relics of the gun.  The camera required all the proficiencies and afforded all the pleasures that a steady hand and a deadly weapon ever gave a lover of field sport, and more besides.

Mr. Shiras believed that wild-life photography in the daytime was happening with or without him.  Two years after the authors successful photographs, Wallahan, of Colorado, succeeded in getting a beautiful series of photos of the mule deer during their descent of a mountain.  Later, he photographed many other animals in his State.  The Chapman, our leading ornithologist, began picturing birds, his collection was unsurpassed.  He was followed by Kearton, of England, who became the foremost bird photographer across the sea.  Next, the author tried photographing animals at night by flashlight, about the waters in vicinity of his camp.  In that experiment many difficulties arose.  In the early days the old Indian method of “fire hunting” deer proved most fascinating.  The practice was outlawed as unsportsmanlike, and became disastrous when followed systematically by market hunters.  Another method was to use a headlight on the shore, but there again, the market hunters became so proficient that that method was also banned.  Having taken daylight pictures of deer in various ways, the author wondered if there was any means of doing that at night, when the deer were more active and could be approached more easily.  Thus, he revived, in a harmless but interesting way, jack-light hunting.  Assured by an extended experience in both methods of hunting under the light, he had little doubt about getting close enough for pictures, provided the magnesium powder was a sufficiently speedy and powerful illuminant.  That new endeavor was mentioned to Jake Brown in the summer of 1889.  The season would not open for several months.  Jake got the boat ready for the night, while the author attempted to devise some sort of flash.  The approach was made the usual way, with jack-light.  During the first attempt, the deer ran away before the flash.  On the second try, the deer moved his head, so looked decapitated in the photo.  The following night, the pictures were nearly worthless for the same reasons.  Experience proved that even with that crude apparatus an occasional good picture could be taken.

During the ensuing winter, the author learned of a flashlight apparatus designed for taking pictures in ballrooms and theaters.  It used a rubber bulb to spray the magnesium onto three alcohol lamps. It contained enough magnesium for six flashes.  It had greater illumination and was easier to use.  On the first dark of the moon the following July, the author left camp in a canoe with the new outfit in the bow.  On attempting to turn the canoe to point at a deer, he accidently toppled the entire apparatus causing an explosion. He leapt overboard and attempted to extinguish the blaze.  Jake was mirthful once he realized no damage was done.  In the succeeding months, experiments were made with a new powder, called Blitz-pulver.  It possessed great brilliance and rapidity.  The author devised a contrivance to ignite the powder.  On returning to camp in the summer of 1891, Mr. Shiras found that Jake was away, building a cabin by another lake for one of the author’s relatives.  This meant that the author needed another paddler in the stern.  Fortunately, a good substitute was available, a Norwegian named John Hammer.  Sending for John, the author explained he needed “a flashlight guide”.  John accepted the invitation.  One night about the middle of July, in the following year, the new apparatus was put into the canoe and they started up the river.  They discovered a pair of shining eyes on the same spot a young boy had shot his first little buck.  The deer viewed the approaching light, raising and lowering it head.  Just as the neck was craned and the head elevated, the author took his first successful picture of a deer at night.  Mr. Shiras endeavored to show that hunting at night with the camera was more enjoyable than day hunting with a gun through the columns of outdoor magazines.  He provided an excerpt from one he wrote twenty-five years prior.  In it, he related the entire experience from preparation and hunt, to the photo shoot, describing the sights and sounds.  He located a deer by turning the lantern on it pivot toward a sound he heard coming from along the shore.  Two bright balls shined back at him.  Slowly the boat approached to within fifteen feet of the subject.  Suddenly, there was a click, a wave of light, and then darkness.  In just a twenty-fifth of a second, the picture of the deer was traced on the plate, and the eyes of both deer and men were temporarily blinded.  They were so close to the deer that, when it sprang, they got splashed before it bounded away in terror.  In the boat, as it slipped away from the bank, plates were being changed in the camera, preparing for another mimic battle.

In the course of time, it became clear to the author that the easiest way to photograph wild game was through the use of flashlight, for by far the greatest number of wild animals were nocturnal, and when seen in the day, could not be approached sufficiently.  However, it was many years before anyone else could be induced to make the effort.  One must be a naturalist and a photographer.  Finally, many years later, Nesbit and Dugmore of the U. S. and Schilling of Germany took up the sport.  Dugmore and Schilling obtained remarkable night pictures on their African expeditions.  Then came a host of others, whose ever-increasing collections indicated the success and permanence of this pastime.  The range of illumination, out-of-doors, was limited to about fifty yards.  Yet the direct and collateral rays had an extraordinary range. Homesteaders living four or five miles from the author’s camp had noticed the sudden glare of light on the sky overhead.  That led to a test where, at a preset time, the author set off a flash while two observers in Marquette, 20 miles distant, reported the results.  They notice a bright illumination, not only above the campsite, but extending five or six miles along the horizon.  Repeat tests showed the same results.  Flashlight rays penetrated clear water for a considerable distance, making possible subsurface pictures difficult to take in the day.

In Chapter VIII, the author moves his narration to Grand Island.  Many explorers retained a special interest in islands, especially when they were in a primeval condition, with a variety of plant and animal life.  Physical barriers served not only in preserving the purity of a given species, but were often the means of furthering the origin and continuance of new forms.  All organic life had its abnormalities, and some developed a freakish manifestation into a permanent character.  Others yielded gradually to environmental influences, especially when they were not indigenous to the region.  Lying athwart the entrance of one of the few deep bays on the southern shore of Lake Superior was Grand Island, true to its name in size and beauty.  It was located at the western end of the famous Pictured Rocks.  The island had giant sandstone cliffs on its northern shore, while its southern shore nearly landlocked the waters of the only natural harbor for many miles.  This was the camping place of the Ojibway Indians for many centuries, and later a trading post was established.  When tourist travel began, in 1855, on completion of the first lock at Sault Ste. Marie, that coast, with its multicolored cliffs and castellated rocks, was seen at close range from the decks of passenger steamers.  Grand Island had a shoreline of about 40 miles.  It was heavily forested, and contained lakes, ponds, and overflowing streams.  Always a game resort, the deer were attracted to several natural salt licks near the center of the island.  When the author was young, he camped on the opposite shore with older family members, where the trout, deer, pigeon, and grouse were so plentiful that he rarely visited the island.  The deer were more fearful on the island, due to the segregation of the island and the fact that the Indians and fur traders made it their hunting ground.  In modern times, that beautiful island had been saved from the ravages of the axe and the gun.  It was purchased by a mining and lumber company as part of a larger tract.  Unlike many other corporations, it had an interest in the welfare of the communities in which it operated.  That led to an effort to protect the native wild game and to introduce new species most likely to succeed in a northern country.  Starting with a hundred or more native deer, moose were introduced to the island, together with elk, caribou, black-tail deer, antelope, and Scandinavian game birds.  For the later, Scotch firs were planted to provide their natural winter food.

Those birds raised a brood or two before falling victim to birds of prey and ground vermin, showing inadaptability in a country otherwise suitable.  Their foes were too numerous and were different from those across the sea.  The first herd of caribou, on a stormy winter night, plunged headlong to their death when pursued by a timber-wolf.  They leapt off a wooded cliff into Lake Superior, under the sheep-like influence that caused those animals to follow a leader.  The next herd of caribou developed bot-fly, a dreadful and sightly affliction, and were unable to suffer and recover.  Those animals also came to a pitiful end.  The black-tail deer were killed off by a wolf who crossed the ice and got under the game fence confining the animals to the higher ground.  Those deer lacked the elusiveness of the white-tail.  The antelope found the few clearings too small for their roaming habits, and in the deep snows they gave up the struggle for existence.  The moose at first thrived in a country adapted to their ways, but, with a tremendous increase in the white-tail deer and elk, they refused to travel the runways of their rivals.  They secreted themselves in a swamp bordering a small lake.  The lack of range and food brought on disease, and then those morose and stolid animals also vanished.  The native white-tail, therefore, won the day against all enforced intruders, except the elk.  Those two species were the ones best adapted for the unoccupied ranges throughout the more easterly part of the country.  A closed hunting season on any island, however big, would lead to starvation.  Thus, it became necessary to supply some food in the winter, and to ship hundreds of deer and surplus elk to parks and game preserves, followed still later by an open season on deer.

That long and costly effort to make Grand Island the permanent home of many immigrant species had proved disappointing, but an unexpected reward had come, the establishment of a beautiful herd of albino white-tail deer.  A characteristic of the Michigan deer had been the general uniformity in physical appearance, there were very few freaks in antlers or extremes in weight, while albinism had been equally rare.  Ten years prior [~1911], word came to Mr. Shiras that a fine albino buck had been seen on Grand Island going to a little pond on the eastern side.  The author took a camping trip to the pond, but failed to see, let alone photograph, that buck.  The next year’s quest was no more successful, and when he heard that the buck had been shot, it was a consolation to know that the stuffed body would be added to the little museum of the island hotel.  The author measured its antlers and body, then one evening he took it outside and flash photographed it in its natural setting.  In the fall of 1915, a good-sized albino buck was seen near some box traps set for capturing deer to be shipped away.  With little effort, it was taken.  It was found to be injured, so it was nursed back to health.  After a month, it could walk, and by spring it was in good condition.  Then the idea of establishing a herd of white deer suggested itself.  With that in mind, four red does were placed in a good-sized range with the white buck.  A few weeks later, a female white fawn was found in a thicket.  The following year one of the red does bore and albino doe fawn.  By the time the first fawn was a yearly, it was placed in the enclosure.  In 1918, the author learned of a yearling albino doe at the State Game Farm.  In a few weeks, it was captured and transported to Grand Island.  In November 1919, the white buck died suddenly, leaving only a buck fawn as the future head of the herd.  The following spring a white fawn was born, followed by the news that a large albino doe, with two white fawns, was spotted in a remote part of the island.  They could be placed in the enclosure if deemed advisable.  The original buck weighed 150 pounds, with the antlers spreading 26 inches.  The velvet of the antlers of both bucks was snow-white, giving them a most statuesque appearance.  Their eyes were a very light gray-blue, as opposed to the red eyes of the doe from southern Michigan.  They shed their summer coats the same time as the normal deer.  The skin was pink, in contrast to the black epidermis of the other deer.  When free of velvet, the antlers were the usual brownish-yellow.  Up until this experiment, all efforts to perpetuate an albinistic strain had been confined to mice, rats, rabbits, and poultry.  In larger animals, that occasional regression from normal only resulted in the killing of such a conspicuous object, by man and predator alike.  The white phase was found in all wild animals and birds from elks to squirrels, and wild-fowl to swallows.  Even frogs, fish and insects and several forms of plants were albino, due to the absence of pigment.

In Chapter IX, the author headed north, to a group of islands off of the north shore.  They occupied the entrance to Nipigon Bay, into which flowed the most famous of Canadian trout streams.  The largest of those islands was St. Ignace.  In 1916, the author traveled west of Port Arthur to study the moose along the international waters between Minnesota and Ontario.  He had heard that several of the large islands near the Nipigon contained an incredible number of moose.  He had his doubts, but the following year he decided to investigate.  For some years after the author went to Lake Superior, moose and white-tail deer were unknown on the north shore, although caribou were numerous.  About 1885, a steady movement of the moose westerly from Quebec was observed, as was a slower easterly migration from Minnesota.  Eventually, those animals commingled and took possession of the entire shore.   Later they extended into the interior until they reached the waters flowing into Hudson Bay.  Following the moose came the white-tail deer and many timber-wolves.  After construction of the railroad, extensive lumbering and many forest fires changed the landscape, large clearings and a mixed vegetation succeeded the dense evergreen forests.  That was the reason for the influx of new animals and birds.  Most of the land was unsuitable for settlement.  That fact insured a permanent and widely extended range for many big-game animals losing their habitat to mining and agriculture.  In September 1917, the author’s party arrived at Rossport, a little fishing village.  Across the bay was Simpsons Island, next in size to St. Ignace.  They obtained provisions and canoes, and a few hours later were on a tug on its way.  While passing through the broad channel, they noted three moose, well out in the shallow water.  Along the winding shores, a great variety of second-growth trees suitable as browsing material for moose.  Those trees included poplar, cherry, birch, soft maple, mountain ash, and balsam.  Interspersed dense forests of spruce offered a safe retreat from the hunter, and an excellent shelter in the winter, being the only tree in that region which was never eaten by moose or deer.  All the lower limbs of the trees along the shore had been eaten or destroyed by the animals for some ten feet above the ground.  That was why the moose were feeding on water plants in the shallow waters of the bay.

Unlike Grand Island, with its precipitous cliffs to the north, most of the exposed shore of St. Ignace Island was low, with many bays separated by narrow, rocky points, suitable for camping.  Inland, there were high, rounded hills, besides several rocky ridges dividing the island into many basins filled with the purest water, ranging from ponds of an acre to a lake four miles long, totaling nearly fifty on an island eight miles by five in size.  The tents were pitched on a level bank by a fine trout stream.  Their plan was to spend most of the time looking for moose in nearby ponds and at several natural salt licks in a deep valley behind the camp.  Those licks were discovered fifteen years earlier by two members of the author’s party.  In a week, one hundred and fifty moose were seen, apparently depending upon water plants for support.  The ponds and lakes yielded a sufficiency, though often the animals were forced to dive in search of food.  Only on the face of inaccessible cliffs was the vegetation undisturbed.  How the moose survived the winter, when the waters were closed, was a mystery.  Although, many may have crossed to the main shore and returned in the spring.  In a patch of spruce, the party discovered two large pair of interlocked moose antlers.  The moose went down in mutual defeat in the fierce rivalry of the mating season.  At the time of their visit, no one lived on the island, but nearby inhabitants supplied themselves with moose meat regardless of the law, justifying it on account of war conditions.  At a salt spring several hundred yards back of camp, the author located the first blind.  Lying dead withing thirty yards was a four-year-old bull moose.  It had been killed a few hours before, and abandoned because of the party’s proximity.  The festering corpse drove away the other moose.  Several days later, another blind was placed opposite one of the best natural licks the author had ever seen, located a mile up the stream from the first.  There, the moose had dug out a large clay basin, into which trickled a salt spring from the adjoining bank.  Every time they passed the place, one or two moose would leave hurriedly.  A flashlight and camera were set up, and on the night following a large cow moose took its own picture at a distance of fifteen feet.  On several adjoining islands, the moose were numerous and tracks proved the presence of a considerable number of caribou.  Al those animals visited salt licks like the ones on St. Ignace.  Just as the south shore had been almost depleted of trout by taking them at the mouths of spawning streams during their migration, similar conditions prevailed on the north shore.  Soon, only in the Nipigon, always under rigid government supervision, will they remain.

In Chapter X, the author discusses the wildlife in and about the camp garden at Whitefish Lake.  He refers to a previous article.  [See: “Wild Animals That Took Their Pictures by Day and by Night”, July 1913, National Geographic Magazine.]  The wilderness camp was often an oasis in the dense and monotonous forest.  There, in the sunshine, were berries, seeds, shrubbery, grass, insects and small rodents, all food for many a creature outlawed by man.  For nearly thirty years, the author’s camp was occupied only in fishing season, followed by long intervals of disuse.  On returning, there was evidence of visits by many woodland creatures.  Perhaps on the first night, there would be a chorus of indignant owls or the startled snort of an approaching deer.  Then all would change.  The smoke from the campfire, and the sounds and scents of man would make all the more timid birds and animals disappear.  The difference between the time when there was neither a habitation nor a railroad within twenty miles and when a more accessible camp was enlarged and a caretaker was continuously in charge afforded one of the most interesting chapters in animal psychology within the author’s experience.  One would have thought that the eviction of forest visitors was final when the place was continually occupied, but just the contrary happened.  The deer soon found that their ancient enemy preferred a camera to the gun, and, freed from the terror of prowling wolves, took possession of swamps and nearby thickets.  The grouse knew the fox and lynx were equally cautious, and nested contently at the edge of the clearing.  Robins, safe from hawks and owls, built numerous nests in the scattered balsam, finding angleworms and berries for their clamoring broods.  The night-loving hare nibbled of cover beneath the midday sun; the muskrats had trails straight from the creek to the nearest carrot patch; and porcupines chiseled the tender bark of many a sapling.  Raccoons knew when the corn was tender, and the flashlight saved the crop; a skunk dug holes beneath the stable and now and then picked up a belated fowl, a mink, grown tired of fish, took a heavy toll of the snow-white ducks in the pool; chipmunks found the little potatoes just the thing to carry off; cherry birds gladly changed from wild to domestic fruit; and all day long, woodpeckers, nuthatches, catbirds, and jays picked at suet hung conveniently nearby.  Hummingbirds and butterflies flitted among the flowers; beneath, a little green frog sat waiting for a meal; and a blue heron stalked at the edge of the of the stream.

The most interesting, as well as the most destructive, visitors were the deer. With the enlarging garden offered a greater variety of vegetables and fruit, the temptation proved irresistible.  When the garden was simple, and unguarded before hunting season, buck would join those forays, but with men present, they mostly stayed away.  Sometimes, during mating season, a buck would hop the fence following a doe.  More than a dozen does, fawns, and yearlings came each night, mostly after midnight, leaving their hoofprints in the garden soil.  They were rarely seen during the day.  They appeared around the middle of July when the garden began producing.  In order of choice came carrot and beet tops, lettuce, and new shoots of raspberries, white clove, peas, Brussels sprouts, and white and red cabbage.  None ever touches the leaves or products of potatoes, tomatoes, squash, rhubarb, corn, cucumbers, asparagus, onions, or parsnips.  To deter the marauders, as well as to document them, Mr. Shiras placed flashlights and cameras in different parts of the garden with a cabin or camp shelter in the background.  More than fifty such pictures had been taken.  The deer were terrified by the flash for a week or two, then they resumed their feasting.  On reaching maturity, the crops intended for winter use were placed in a root-house, except on one occasion the parsnips, which, never having been molested, were left in a pile to be covered by four or five feet of snow.  In the spring, a hole was dug for the first meal of parsnips and a tunnel was discovered leading 200 feet to the water made by muskrats.  None of the vegetables remained.  In addition to the birds mentioned, a large number of other birds the author wanted to mention. His list, shown in the text, included sixty-one species all verified by Mr. Norman Wood, field naturalist of the Michigan University Museum, who spent the spring and summer of 1918 at the author’s camp.

In chapter XI, the author discusses the beaver and the muskrat, and then has some closing remarks.  The muskrat had no representative in the Old World.  Its fossils were found in Pleistocene deposits in many parts of the U. S.  The beaver belonged to a more remote time, dating back to the Tertiary period, its fossils were found throughout portions of Europe and Asia.  Beavers were an early, important source of fur and food.  They were respected for their skill in constructing dams and houses, and its cutting and storing its winter food.  It wasn’t surprising that beavers figured in the tribal ceremonies of various Indian tribes, and was exalted above other animals.  Both of these aquatic fur-bearers belonged to the order of rodents, the beaver being the only representative of the family Castoridae, while the muskrat was in the rat and mouse family, the Muridae, with more than a thousand species.  These animals were similar in shape, color, double coat of hair, webbed feet, flat, scaly tails, gland secretions, and other anatomical resemblances.  In habits they were both aquatic, nocturnal, monogamous, and lived in houses or burrows constructed and occupied in the same way, often as harmonious cotenants.  Their extensive range was the same in North America.  There was a marked similarity in the food habits of these animals.  By adapting to the seasonal food supply, the beaver ate the more perishable aquatic growths from May to October, then on to a variety of land plants, bushes and vines, finally relying on bark when all other sources of food could not be easily obtained or stored.

Prior to 1700, the beaver was seldom molested by the Indians of the upper lakes, they preferred larger skins for domestic use.  On the arrival of the trappers, it did not take long to reduce those numerous but scattered colonies, and for a hundred and fifty years there was a succession of good seasons, followed by a relapse.  When the author first came to Lake Superior, no trace of beaver was seen.  Most of the animals were found at the headwaters of streams and on little inland lakes where the Ojibways never lived, and the trappers sometimes overlooked.  In 1867, three years before the author’s arrival, there appeared in print a monograph on “The American Beaver and His Works”, by L. H. Morgan, regarded as a classic in zoologic literature.  He resided in Marquette County for a number of years.  On Mr. Morgan’s many trips into the woods he always employed Jack La Pete as his guide, through Jack, the author learned much about the investigator.  Mr. Morgan’s collection of skulls and bones led them to nickname him “the fossil”.  About 1885, the last beaver disappeared from the waters about the camp, and for twenty years thereafter none were seen.  Finally, a long “closed season” saved the remnant in upper Michigan.  In 1915, the author found fresh cuttings and located a burrow at the south end of Whitefish Lake.  The next year, the enlarging chamber broke through the surface of the soil, which was then covered with sticks.  The same fall the two-year-old beaver was evicted and established a colony on the river not far above the camp.  A large house was built of sticks and covered with mud.  When the river colony was estimated to contain eight animals, there were two seasons, 1918 and 1919, during which from 25 to 30 trees were in the process of felling at the same time.  On average, it took ten to fifteen days before large trees were felled, due to that intermittent cutting.  The beavers on the river were never seen during the day, the water being so shallow, but the ones on the lake could be seen sometimes swimming in the afternoon.  In October 1912, the author damaged a dam so he could take a night picture of it being repaired.  The ones about camp had no dams, so he decided to take a flashlight picture while a tree was being cut.  It worked, and while luck varied in the ensuing years, he had a dozen of more pictures of beavers either gnawing at, or standing under, a tree.  Those photos made it possible to determine that trees were felled by individual beavers and not by groups of them.  In 1919, after the beaver became abundant in a number of upper Michigan counties, the season was opened and the newcomers rapidly declined.  The author longed for a system of relocation and regulation to ensure this animals survival.

The muskrat was much more versatile in the variety of retreats than the beaver, possibly due to its smaller size.  Often it took possession of the overhanging and lower portions of a beaver-house.  The muskrats of Whitefish Lake had an unusual number of domiciles.  Besides sharing a beave-house, they resorted to hollow logs, with an entrance under water, or they tunneled beneath a fallen trunk extending beyond the bank.  Probably, the strangest of all those homes were where the animals used large rafts anchored in the lake put there by the author.  Both animals were particular in having one or more entrances to their homes beneath the water.  The muskrats of Whitefish Lake had a habit of building small houses out of moss on the ice-covered lake, using them as resting and feeding places.  In parts of its range, the muskrat was supposed to raise from three to four litters a year, but in northern Michigan, due to the long, harsh winter, they raised only one.  In recent years, the flesh of the muskrat was becoming more and more esteemed.  Its meat was dark red in color, fine-grained, and tender.  It could be fried, roasted or stewed.  It had a slight gamy flavor which could be removed by soaking it in salt water overnight.  The author found it comparable to tender chicken.  For years it had been served, highly seasoned and flavored, as “Maryland terrapin”, without exciting any suspicion on the part of connoisseurs, who paid a fancy price for it.  In some Eastern states, the carcass brought from 30 to 40 cents, more than double the price once paid for its pelt.  Unfortunately, several millions of pounds of available food went to waste annually.  Its fur was rated low, the skins being practically valueless in the market.  But, in recent years, the beautiful fur of those animals had become more and more appreciated. In 1920, muskrat skins were sold in fur auctions for up to $7.50 each.

The wonderful part that second-growth vegetation in deforested area played in the distribution and relative numbers of birds and animals was worthy of further comment.  In the thousands of miles of wilderness surrounding Lake Superior, the conditions were better for its wildlife than before the coming of the white man centuries ago.  There was a larger and greater variety of food and better shelter than ever before – two great factors in a suitable habitat.  Another factor of importance was the stable climate caused by the Great Lake; its temperature stayed at 39 degrees year-round.  Once, unbroken evergreen forests covered much of the land.  In those primitive forests there was little food or shelter.  In the early lumbering operations, only the largest trees were cut, hardly leaving a trace.  Few animals other than a porcupine, a red squirrel, or a woodpecker were seen.  Finally came the period of intensive lumbering where trees of every kind were cut down.  Those cut-over land seemed sterile, but in a few years, fire or decay prepared the devastated areas for new growth.  Where once stood solid forests of pine; cedar, balsam, and hemlock grew.  Their low branches sheltered animals from the wind, and from the eyes of the hunters.  They also put food within easy reach.  Later came the removal of mature hardwood maples, in hundreds of tracts of twenty to forty acres.  In the large clearings they created, the succeeding deciduous growths differed greatly from the original stock.  It consisted of rapidly growing trees, such as, poplar, white birch, cherry, alder, and mountain-ash, interspersed with a great variety of berries and low-growing plants, including clover and timothy.  There went the deer, rabbits, bears, grouse, and hundreds of berry and insect eating songsters, while the beaver took possession of streams and lakes bordering those new growths.  In that region, Nature, despite man’s grasping ways, provided more abundantly than ever, food and shelter for the birds and animals.  They should be appreciated and valued.



The second (and last) article in this month’s issue is entitled “Protecting the United States from Plant Pests”.  It was written by Charles Lester Marlatt, Chairman, Federal Horticulture Board, U. S. Department of Agriculture.  The article contains sixteen black-and-white photographs from the U. S. Department of Agriculture, none of which are full-page in size.  Some ten years prior, this magazine published an article on “pests and parasites”.  [See: “Pests and Parasites; Why We Need a National Law to Prevent Importation of Insect-Infested and Diseased Plants”, April 1911, National Geographic Magazine.]  The article aided in securing passage of a national law to prevent the importation of insect-infested and diseased plants.  This article, and photos, indicate the character of plant pests which were being intercepted by that law.

Prior to 1912, there was no authority in law to protect the United States from the entry of new plant enemies, or to control and prevent the distribution within the U. S. of any such enemies which may have gained a foothold.  Nurseries and florist could import plants without regard to disease or infestation.  That freedom of entry had resulted in the establishment in the U.S. of an enormous number of foreign plant pests.  They were a tremendous burden on the garden, field, and forest productions of this country.  In 1904, the Department of Agriculture published an examination of the losses to those pests and inflictions, showing those losses amounted to upward of a billion dollars (two billion in 1921 dollars).  It was roughly the same amount as the federal budget of the time.  Those estimates related solely to the insect pests and took no account of the loses to diseases such as grain rusts, smuts, mildews, blights, and other disease affecting crops and trees.  The losses from those diseases were probably fully comparable to those due to insects.  Those loses were caused by a number of pests, insects, and fungous, but more than 50% of those losses were due to insects and diseases which had come from foreign lands.  Insect examples included the Hessian fly, the boll weevil, the alfalfa weevil, the Japanese beetle, and the San Jose scale.  Diseases included the wheat smut, pine blister rust, citrus canker, potato wart, and chestnut blight.  The full list included upward of 100 important plant enemies, and many hundreds of lesser importance.

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The San Jose scale, which was introduces with flowering peach from China some 40 years prior, was costing the country at least $10,000,000 a year for the expense of spraying and in the reduced crop.  Similarly, the citrus canker, introduced with Japanese trifoliate orange stock some 13 years prior, Federal and State costs of control work were $2,130,000, while the value of the orchards burned to the ground came to $11,063,000, for a total expense of $13,193,000.  The oriental fruit worm, brought to this country with flowering Japanese cherries about 1911, when a widespread popular demand for that beautiful flowering tree developed.  It threatened our common deciduous fruits – peach, plum, prune, apple, pear, etc.  It was firmly established in six eastern States, and probably was more widely distributed.  That insect will, in a few years, cost fruit production millions of dollars.  The Japanese beetle was another pest of wide range of food habit, and likely to cause tremendous annual losses to all kinds of fruits including not only apple, pear, and plum, etc., but also grape and small fruits.  It was introduced, as a grub, in the soil with an importation of Japanese Iris roots about ten years prior.  Those hundreds of foreign pests had become permanent factors in American agriculture and horticulture.  They ought to have been kept out, but late as the action was taken, it was still an opportunity.

The Department of Agriculture compiled and published a catalogue of the more dangerous insect enemies of plants in foreign countries which, for the most part, had not yet gained entry into the U. S.  The catalogue was issued as a handbook for plant quarantine inspectors, Federal and State.  In it was listed some 3,000 different foreign insect pests.  A similar manual was being prepared listing the known foreign fungous diseases of plants, describing and cataloging probable as many diseases as there were insects in the insect catalogue.  Many of those insects and diseases were known to be as serious enemies as many of the worst of those already introduced.  Those catalogues listed only the known plant enemies.  Unfortunately, Enormous areas of the old world had been little, or not at all, explored with respect to such plant enemies, particularly China, Africa, and even much of Europe.  Many pests had already come from those area, including; the San Jose scale, the Oriental fruit worm, the citrus canker, and the chestnut blight.  They were not known to be pests until after their importation.  Most of those introduced plant enemies had come to this country in connection with living plants and many of them with florist and ornamental stock.  The alfalfa weevil was imported, hibernating in soil, the only means by which it could get its first foothold in Utah.  It was currently affecting six States in the middle West.  Other weevils of foreign origin, affecting clover and other plants, undoubtedly were similarly introduced.  The Japanese beetle was a recent instance of such introductions.  The European earwig was also introduced in soil with imported plants.  It had been very troublesome to ornamentals in the estates of Newport, where it got its first foothold.  It was a notable pest of garden and ornamental plants, and a very obnoxious house pest.  Some of those foreign pests had come in in other ways: the Hessian fly with straw; the Argentine ant as a stowaway in cargo arriving in New Orleans; and the corn-borer with imported broom-corn.  The latter two also might have come in soil or living plants.  In fact, records dating back to colonial times showed that 90% had come in with living plants.

For some 30 or 40 years prior to 1912, the more important exporting European nations were prohibiting entry of living plants from the U. S.  Those prohibitions, first based on the grape phylloxera, were later made more extensive due to the San Jose scale.  No living plants from America had, for many years, been permitted to enter France, Germany, or Holland.  Similar restrictions had been long enforced by other European countries.  The need for national quarantine legislation for the protection of farm, garden, and forest interest of the country was obvious, but took an earnest effort over an extended period.  Toward the end of that period, the legislation was hastened by the increase in numbers of the gypsy and brown-tailed moths found on imported plants during the years 1909-12.  The entry of the citrus canker, the Japanese beetle, and the European corn-borer all occurred during the last years of the effort to secure the legislation.  The Plant Quarantine Act of 1912 was the final outcome of that 14-year effort to secure authority to protect the U. S. from further entry of plant pests.  The law had broad quarantine and regulatory powers, specifically on the entry of nursery stock and other plants.  During the first seven years of enforcement of the act, an effort was made to prevent the entry of new plant pests through foreign inspection and certification.  Those were made in the countries of export, and as an additional safeguard, provision was made for reinspection in this country, either by Federal or State inspectors.  Under this system, the best skill, both abroad and at home, was employed, and the imported plants were as free of pests as humanly possible.  However, the record of seven years of pest interception indicated that numbers of injurious insects and plant diseases were brought into the U. S. every year.  Many of the States were unable to inspect all of the shipments, and no inspection, however expert, could discover all instances of infestation and contagion.  During the seven years, 1912-1919, there were 1,051 infested shipments from Holland, involving 148 kinds of insect pests; 1,306 infested shipments from Belgium, involving 64 kinds of insects; 347 infested shipments from France, involved 89 kinds of insects; 154 infested shipments from England, involving 62 kinds of insects; 291 infested shipments from Japan, involving 108 kinds of insects; and 12 infested shipments from Germany, involving 15 kinds of insect pests.  Those records were by no means complete.  Some of those interceptions included the European tussock moth, harmful to forest and ornamental plants, which was found in 67 shipments from Holland, involving 16 different ornamental plants.  Another example were the gypsy and brown-tailed moths, found respectively, in the egg and larva forms, on 63 different shipments of plants.  Practically all of those injurious insects were found on the plants, and not in the soil.  If any of the often more dangerous species hibernating in the soil, they were not examined, and it was impossible to disinfect the soil without killing the plant it held.

It was even more difficult to exclude plant diseases then it was insect pests.  Inspections for such diseases were next to useless.  Many of those diseases did not develop to a visible stage only after a period of months, or even years, after the plant was imported.  The pine blister rust could not be determined for five or six years.  Other similar diseases remained undiscoverable by any method except for planting and growing for a long period in quarantine.  Two of the three serious diseases of forest trees – the white pine blister rust and the European poplar canker – came from Europe.  Both diseases were well known and, in spite of protections, they still were imported.  Likewise, the citrus canker came from Japan, but it was not recognized prior to it gaining a foothold in this country.  Some twenty-two restrictive orders were applied under the Plant Quarantine Act, mainly in a piecemeal fashion.  They were only taken against enemies that were known.  It offered no security against such unknown and unanticipated enemies such as the San Jose scale, the Oriental peach moth, the Japanese beetle, the chestnut blight, and the citrus canker.

After studying that subject for many years, the Department of Agriculture, and several States, decided the only solution was to ban the import of all plant stock not absolutely essential to the horticultural, floricultural, and forestry needs of the U S.   Ample provisions had been made for the importation of any plant whatsoever.  In other words, no plants are absolutely denied entry into the U. S.  In addition to those imports deemed essential, some 650 permits were issued for so-called “prohibited plants”.  Under those permits, entry had been authorized of upward of 16,000,000 of those plants involving 5,000 different kinds of plants.  Those imports were propagating and reproducing in hundreds of establishments in some 25 different States.  It was the Departments intention to continue to permit such entry of necessary plants until such time as we were self-sufficient.  Then, with no plants entering the country, it would greatly lessen the risk of entry of new plant pests. The existing restriction had been modified several times, and would be modified further in the future.  It was sensible to restrict, as far as possible, importations of plants which, in the past, proved disastrous to the country.  No one wanted to go back to the way it was. The plant life of America merited the same protection that was given to animals and man to ward off foreign scourges.  If the average American knew as much of plant diseases as he did of human and animal diseases, the necessity of a quarantine against infected plants would not need to be sustained by argument.



Tom Wilson



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