Research in animal bounty records

Chippewa County, Minnesota has announced that it will again pay bounties for coyotes due to the damage they are doing to farm animals. According to The Board of Commissioners voted Tuesday to pay $10 for every coyote trapped or shot in the county and brought to the sheriff’s office from Dec. 1 through April 1 each year. Those that kill a coyote will be able to sell its pelt, which is worth about $15.”

Historically many towns and counties have paid bounties for such animals. If you have Minnesota ancestral ties you might find details of a bounty paid to an ancestor or other family members. Within the state archives collection at the Minnesota History Center in St. Paul researchers have access to bounty records from a variety of locations. These records put the person in a specific place at a specific time. They might even help to prove that a person was still alive in a given month and year. The information varies but usually contains the name of who the bounty was paid for and the amount along with details on the animal or pelt. A few examples from the Minnesota collection:

  • Wilkin County: wolf, fox, crow, lynx, bobcat, and bear bounties (1928-1965)
  • Rice County: wolf bounties 1897-1900
  • Eagan Township, Dakota County: wolf bounties (1889-1918)
  • Sherburne County: wolf bounty certificate books (1878/1879, 1893-1897; 1897-1899)
  • Bemidji Township, Beltrami County: gopher and wolf bounty records (1901-1960)

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