stefansson-wrangel-09-25-006-014

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- 14 -

which had attached to it a few Eskimos. From the zoological point of view
we had wanted foxes and these had been caught for us chiefly by the Eskimos
or by one or two old white trapers who were with us. I do not suppose that
either Knight or Maurer had ever set a trap. The theory was so simple,
however, that success might have been expected. But one peculiarity of the
Wrangell Island weather brought a difficulty which they do not seem to have
successfully solved. So far as we can judge from the diary, the traps seem
to have been set in such a way that would have been successful in a forest
where the snow lies soft on the spot where it falls. But in an open island
like Wrangell the wind will blow more or less almost everyday, the snow is
light and dry, and the wind will pack it into and over a trap set without a
cover. Even when a thin cover or snow is used, the location has to be care-
fully chosen to prevent more snow piling on top and making the cover so thick
that the light feet of a fox go over instead of breaking through. Although
there were a good many foxes actually caught, they were evidently only a small
fraction of the numbers that could have been secured. From the point of view
of the safety of the expedition and its success, this was really of no conse-
quence. As a safety factor the meat of foxes amounts to little. One bear is
worth a hundred foxes. As to showing the value of the island, the observa-
tions of the men while trapping were as valuable as the skins actually secured,
for what we wanted was information as to the abundance of animals that are
commercially valuable.

On November 7th: "Galle went to his traps and found two
gone (they had evidently been badly fastened and the foxes caught had carried
them off). He got one fox and coming home in the dark got slightly lost and
saw a bear while wandering around trying to find his way home. He did not
shoot it although we are rather short of dog feed. He says that he did not
know where he was, so he let the bear go." This was evidently felt by the
whole party as a misfortune, for the bears seen were much fewer now than they

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