Dakota Datebook

Coyote or Collie?

Monday, August 5, 2013


Since 2010, North Dakota’s coyote population has been on the rise. In 2011, the North Dakota legislature considered a bill to established a one hundred dollar bounty on the animals. The state has a history of offering bounties on the pesky predators, offering the earliest coyote bounty in 1896. However, the efficacy and logic behind such bounties remains hotly debated, especially given some problems bounties have caused.

In the early summer of 1922, J.W. Moore, a tractor salesman from Bowbells, North Dakota, took his Winchester rifle out to do some coyote hunting near town. When he saw a large coyote about fifty yards off, he was confident enough of his marksmanship to bring down the animal at such a distance. He also considered himself quite fortunate to have taken such a beautiful animal, and looked forward to claiming his bounty on the animal’s fur. After skinning the animal and preparing the fur, however, Moore received so many compliments on the skin that he decided to display the fur in front of his farm implement store in downtown Bowbells. As manager of the store and the successful hunter who brought the animal down, he received even many compliments on the fur throughout the summer.

When August finally came around, Mr. Moore decided to collect his bounty after all. He took the pelt down from the store display window and went to see the Burke County Auditor to turn in the fur. On this date in 1922, the Bismarck Tribune reported that Mr. Moore was not able to collect a bounty on the beautiful pelt, after all. When he presented the hide to the Deputy County Auditor, Lawrence Kopriva, Mr. Kopriva exclaimed, “That’s my dog!” Apparently, Mr. Kopriva’s dog had gone missing earlier that summer, and Mr. Moore had mistaken the purebred Scottish collie for a coyote. What’s more, nearly the entire citizenry of Bowbells had, for months, also believed the displayed fur to be that of a coyote. Sadly, the tale did not end well for either party, as Mr. Kopriva mourned his beloved pet and Mr. Moore realized not only that he had killed the poor animal, but that he would also not be receiving his bounty of two dollars and fifty cents.


Dakota Datebook written by Jayme L. Job



Fur News. Vol. 23, No. 10. October 1916: p. 34. U.S. Patent Office: Washington, DC.

Byrd, Klrak. “North Dakota Coyote Numbers Up, Hunters Happy, Hunting Allowed Year-Round, No $100 Bounty,” The Dickinson Press. September 14, 2011.

Gehring, Brian. “Coyote Bounties: Do They Work?,” The Bismarck Tribune. December 29, 2011.



http://www.infomercantile.com/dakota_death_trip/Thats_My_Dog_1343583547.html (Dakota Death Trip blog posted by D. Dahlsad, The Bismarck Tribune, August 5, 1922).


Tags: Coyote, bounty, Lawrence Kopriva, Bowbells, Job


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Dakota Datebook is a project of Prairie Public, in partnership with the State Historical Society of North Dakota, with funding from the North Dakota Humanities Council.

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