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Cape Cod Wolves, Fifteen Shillings Each

Wolves were a problem in the early days of Cape Cod. Several of the towns paid a bounty for each wolf killed. In 1658 the Town of Sandwich voted that the Indians were to be paid 15 shillings for every wolf killed by them.

The first wolf bounty law was passed by the Massachusetts Bay Colony on November 9, 1630 in Boston. The law stated that every Englishman that killed a wolf would be given one penny for each one brought in as proof. In eighteen years, the bounty in Massachusetts changed twelve times and it ended up as the same amount as a full month’s pay for a common worker, per wolf.

Soon after colonies started bounties they realized there was a problem—fraud. Since some areas required a different part of the hide/skin as proof to collect the bounty, sometimes one skin would be used to collect several bounties. Other times it was not a wolf but a coyote, dog, or stretched jackrabbit hide.

The feelings of the Massachusetts colonists towards both wolves, and the native people, are well summed up in a law passed in 1638 stating ‘whoever shall [within the town] shoot off a gun on any unnecessary occasion, or at any game except at an Indian or a wolf, shall forfeit 5 shillings for every shot’—source

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Cape Cod
Posted by Cape Cod - (website) on 01/31/06
Categories: HistoryNature
Keywords: critters, history


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