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Volume 3January-February, 1934Number 1


Captain Rodney Sadler of Bar Harbor, well known as an observant and capable mariner in these waters, tells me that some 35 or 40 years ago a group of about two dozen Passamaquoddy Indians would leave their homes above Eastport, Maine, and journey by canoe to Heron Island, 10 or 11 miles southwest of Mount Desert Island, where they would spend the entire summer shooting gulls. In those years there were no laws protecting these common birds of the ocean front, and the feather trade heaped great sums of money at the feet of an army of bird-butchers. The white-feathered breast of each mature gull, skinned and tanned, would be cut up into three pieces which, on the market, sold at four dollars per dozen pieces - hence one dollar per gull. After the skinning of the breast portion, the Indians discarded all that remained. At one time the Captain saw a pile of these discarded carcasses which he and his companion estimated as being "as big as five cords of wood."

Our herring gull is a bird which ranges far and wide. It is the commonest wintering gull along the coast of the North Atlantic states, and one of the most abundant of gulls in the Puget Sound region of the Pacific. It is also found in Europe. Here along the Maine coast it is steadily increasing in number and is extending its breeding range.

Like the common rat, the bear, the crow, and a few other animals, this gull has a great range of diet and for that reason is able to prosper, whereas somewhat similar forms of wild life whose diets are more or less restricted tend to occur in lesser numbers. As a result of our severe winter the favored hunting grounds of these birds has become an ice-armored barrens, and for that reason they continue to invade the towns, settling in snow-covered lawns and clearings close to the habitations of mankind. When the bountiful harvest of the sea becomes closed to them man, who in times gone by has been a dreaded foe, has a chance to redeem himself and to become the gulls' best friend.

- Arthur Stupka

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