“The possession of ferrets shall be presumptive evidence of their illegal use.” – The Auburn Citizen, August 28, 1909
The practice of sending ferrets into burrows, to flush or “ferret out” the rabbits within, was brought to the U.S. from England circa 1880, but it sparked outrage and was eventually outlawed in most counties of New York State. However, in September of 1914, the Skaneateles Free Press reported:
“Hunters in this and other towns in Onondaga county are divided on the question of allowing the use of ferrets in the bagging of rabbits. Some declare this method is unsportsmanlike in the extreme—others claim it is the only way to insure a good bag after a hard day’s tramp. Farmers have made complaint to the State Conservation Commission that the animals [rabbits] have become so numerous that they are proving a nuisance which should be abated. Commissioner Moore had a hearing on the matter in Syracuse Wednesday and took under advisement the application of the Hunters’ Club for permission to use ferrets in this county. Such permission was given in several counties of the State last year. The rabbit season opens October 1st.”
In time, the more sporting individuals prevailed; rabbits were once more safe in their homes, and the practice of hunting them with ferrets is today illegal across New York.