Page:The Passenger Pigeon - Mershon.djvu/93

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The Passenger Pigeon

flight, according to the testimony of many reliable observers, was a large one, and the birds must have formed a nesting of considerable extent in some region so remote that no news of its presence reached the ears of the vigilant netters. Thus it is probable that enough Pigeons are left to restock the West, provided that laws sufficiently stringent to give them fair protection be at once enacted. The present laws of Michigan and Wisconsin are simply worse than useless, for, while they prohibit disturbing the birds within the nesting, they allow unlimited netting only a few miles beyond its outskirts during the entire breeding season. The theory is, that they are so infinitely numerous that their ranks are not seriously thinned by catching a few millions of breeding birds in a summer, and that the only danger to be guarded against is that of frightening them away by the use of guns or nets in the woods where their nests are placed. The absurdity of such reasoning is self-evident, but, singularly enough, the netters, many of whom struck me as intelligent and honest men, seem really to believe in it. As they have more or less local influence, and, in addition, the powerful backing of the large game dealers in the cities, it is not likely that any really effectual laws can be passed until the last of our Passenger Pigeons are preparing to follow the great auk and the American bison."

In order to show a little more clearly the immense destruction of the Passenger Pigeon in a single year