Bounty Statements

Nora Radliff. Photo from the Mike Monte collection.

As residents in Milwaukee continue their lookout for the wild cat stalking their city, here at the Crandon Public Library a local history volunteer has completed an indexing project to a collection of county records that highlight a time in Forest County’s history when local residents hunted wild cats and wolves in return for bounties paid out by the Forest County Treasurer.

The collection includes over 150 certificates of bounties created by the Forest County treasurer’s office in the early 1900’s.  The documents acted as the official record allowing for the disbursement of county funds in exchange for the scalps of wolves and wild cats.

certificate of bounty
A statement that Chet Starks produced the scalpof two wolves killed inthe town of Laona andproduced the carcass tothe chairman in thepresence of ElmaDraeger.

While reading through the bounty statements in this collection it is important to remember to put the documents in historical context.  In today’s society reading about the bounty on wolf pups may be upsetting to some; however, according to L. David Mech, of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife, in the forward to the book The Timber Wolf in Wisconsin by Richard P. Theil, “Wisconsin settlers thought of the wolf as evil incarnate” (Mech, xvi) reinforcing the fact that our elected officials used tax payers dollars to pay for the scalps of wolf pups, wolves and wild cats not as a sport but rather as population control.

Descriptions of the records, including the names of individuals who received bounty payments, can be viewed online here.

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