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Wolf Bounty

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On this date in 1910, an article appeared in the Oakes Times regarding the State Auditor’s view on the state wolf bounty, which had been in place since 1897. The auditor, D.K. Brightbill, was of the opinion that the bounty should be repealed as it was no longer practical for the state to hold such an act.

The state wolf bounty allowed $3 to be paid to anyone who killed a wolf. This had been created to control dangerous wolf populations that once roamed North Dakota, wreaking havoc among livestock throughout the countryside. Each county would pay a tax into the state to fund the bounty, and the state auditor ultimately signed off on the payments to hunters. This meant that auditor Brightbill saw all bounty money going out and knew how wasteful the bounty had become for some counties.

A different bounty had been passed in 1901, requiring the counties themselves to offer a $2 bounty on wolves, but the state bounty still remained in place. Brightbill was frustrated at the contradiction between the bounties, stating that the state bounty was no longer needed now that the counties offered one.

The wolves killed in 1909 alone numbered more than 11,000, and the kills had averaged 1,000 wolves a month over the previous five years. And the bill for that added up. In the last thirteen years, North Dakotans had been taxed over $400,000 dollars for the bounty, but it didn’t benefit the counties equally. For example, Grand Forks County paid more than $2000 dollars into the fund in 1909, but had only awarded $225 to hunters in the area. As the auditor pointed out, many people were paying far more then was needed, and since a county bounty was in place, the state bounty seemed wasteful. Thanks to the efforts of those against the state bounty, money from the fund was returned to the counties in 1911.

Today, wolf sightings in North Dakota are quite rare.

Dakota Datebook by Katie David

Oakes Times, Dec. 29, 1910

Dakota Datebook is made in partnership with the State Historical Society of North Dakota, and funded by Humanities North Dakota, a nonprofit, independent state partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in the program do not necessarily reflect those of Humanities North Dakota or the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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