A Fraudulent Practice.
If there is a single underlying constant in bounty programs throughout history, it is the element of cheating--and it took many forms. In 1965, the Michigan Department of Conservation asserted, "There are as many ways to cheat the bounty system as there are people inclined to cheat." Swindlers were imaginative, and local clerks were often easily fooled.
Domestic dog and cat scalps were sometimes submitted in place of wild canines and felines. After pelts or heads submitted for payments were marked by clerks, often by punching holes in the ears, they were returned to the shooter, who could then repair or obliterate the marks and take the same animal parts to adjacent counties for additional payment. The state legislature tried to remedy that by requiring clerks to retain and burn heads and hides, but there was much opposition to that practice because the shooter often wanted to also sell the hide for its fur value. Clerks, too, were sometimes part of the fraud schemes.
Bringing in carcasses from adjacent states was also a fraudulent practice, be they foxes from Ohio or hawks from Indiana. Importing dead wolves from Wisconsin was a particular problem. The state of Wisconsin levied a wolf bounty 30 years later than Michigan, and that bounty was only $5 for many decades. As a result, many wolves killed in Wisconsin were brought to U.P. border counties for payments. It was quite common for that practice to involve friends and family members who killed targeted species elsewhere and shared Michigan's bounty payments. One man bragged about covering the cost of building his Wisconsin resort facility with Michigan bounties.
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|Title Annotation:||claiming wildlife bounties|
|Publication:||Michigan History Magazine|
|Article Type:||Brief article|
|Date:||Mar 1, 2019|
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