Mr. Olney to Sir Julian Pauncefote.

No. 344.]

Excellency: In connection with previous correspondence upon the subject, I have the honor to advise you of the receipt of a letter from the Acting Secretary of the 6th instant, wherein he states that according to the last annual report of Mr. J. B. Crowley, special agent in charge of the Seal Islands, it appears that by actual count 28,000 seal pups died on the Pribilof Islands during the past season from starvation, their mothers having been killed at sea. A careful estimate based upon a partial count places the number of pups which died from starvation during the season of 1894 at 20,000. The count for 1895 was carefully verified by an agent of the North American Commercial Company upon the Pribilof Islands.

Mr. Crowley’s report, with other papers, was recently transmitted by the Secretary of the Treasury to the Senate in compliance with the resolution of that body, and is now, I understand, in the hands of the Public Printer, its publication having been ordered. I shall request [Page 256] Mr. Carlisle to give me copies of this publication when printed, and shall send you, if possible, copies thereof at the earliest practicable date.

I desire also to call your attention to the unprecedentedly large catch of seals in Bering Sea during the past season. The total was 44,169, as compared with 31,585 during the season of 1894. This is by far the largest catch ever made in Bering Sea, and it is believed that another catch of similar size for the coming season will almost completely exterminate the fur-seal herd. I am advised that the greater portion of the seals killed at sea were females.

The total catch during the last season in the North Pacific and Bering Sea from the American herd was 56,291, as compared with the total for 1894 of 61,838, the small failing off being due to the inclemency of the weather between January and May along the northwestern coast, and also to the diminution of the seal herd. On the other hand, the catch in Bering Sea increased very largely, as the figures herein referred to will clearly indicate.

I have thought it advisable, therefore, to bring these facts to your attention, in the hope that Her Majesty’s Government will realize the absolute necessity of consenting, for the coming season, to some further regulation regarding the fur-seal fishery, to the end that the valuable herd may be saved from total extermination.

Asking that this matter may be proudly laid before Her Majesty’s Government, and that I may be advised of the conclusion reached thereon without unnecessary delay,

I have, etc.,

Richard Olney.