Bounty Check

The Outdoor Journal by Kyle Carroll

Coyote bounties and predator control in Missouri

I don't remember how I acquired the coyote. I don't remember if I took in the whole carcass or just the ears as was optional. Whatever evidence I had, I took to the County Clerk in Caldwell County where I lived. I do remember the check. It was probably three or so by eight or nine inches, fairly large. It looked like it was right out of an old western movie. It had bank note style design and was hand signed by Mayo J. Anderson, County Clerk, Caldwell County for the sum of $5.00. It was an official bounty paid by the county for one dead coyote. Mayo had excellent flowing penmanship, even though he was missing fingers on his right hand as the result of corn picker accident. I'd give more than $5.00 to have that check today just to have it framed. My best guess on the year was 1969 or 1970, when I collected my one and only bounty check.

Since 1825 the State of Missouri had been waging war against wolves,

coyotes and bobcats by allowing county courts to pay bounties on these species,

with financial help through legislative appropriations. In 1936, the Missouri Department of Conservation was created. Wanting to base wildlife management decisions on science, the furbearer research biologist began his annual survey of bountied animals.

By 1973, the State had spent over $2,000,000 to kill slightly more than 200,000 coyotes, without causing any apparent decrease in the overall coyote population. Between 1973 and 1976, the Missouri legislature failed to appropriate funds for bounties, and all but a relatively few Missouri counties had by then discontinued bounty payments for coyotes and bobcats.

So bounties failed to reduce the number of coyote damage complaints or even slow down the growing number of coyotes in the state and faded into history when the legislature stopped funding them. But coyotes were still around, still killing pigs and chickens and sheep.

For 14 years starting in 1923, the US Fish and Wildlife Service funded a government trapper program. As with most government programs, it ran out of money and was too slow in assisting with problems. We will continue with Missouri's history of predator control next week.

The Caldwell County News

101 South Davis
P.O. Box 218
Hamilton, MO 64644
Phone: 816-583-2116

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