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Encyclopedia Dubuque


"Encyclopedia Dubuque is the online authority for all things Dubuque, written by the people who know the city best.”
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Affiliated with the Local History Network of the State Historical Society of Iowa, and the Iowa Museum Association.


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WOLVES. A bounty system was established for coyotes and wolves in Iowa in 1817. This was an attempt to eliminate these "vermin." This system, however, had a debatable effect. One pelt (ears, lips, scalp) could be good for several bounties if presented in different ways in different counties. Cub-hunting of wolves provided a living for many PROFESSIONAL HUNTERS. The female animal was tracked to her den. When attacked, she would usually flee leaving her young to be smoked out, dug out, or dynamited out of the ground. Knowing that the females returned to the same area to have young, hunters usually allowed her to escape providing future income for them.

Bringing wild animals close to the pioneer city of Dubuque were such businesses as that of William A. RYAN. Packing hogs on the levee resulted in sleigh loads of unusable parts being hauled out on the frozen MISSISSIPPI RIVER and dumped. These acres of entrails lay exposed to the air until the ice broke up in the spring and the rotting material was carried away by the floods. The smell of the rotting meat spread by the winds attracted animals for miles. It was considered dangerous for humans to attempt to cross the ice after dark. Many wolves were poisoned.

In 1876 a wolf killed two hogs within the Fifth Ward of Dubuque. (1) In 1878 the Dubuque Herald warned small children to stay indoors at night. Wolves were heard calling to each other at night. (2) Two residents of Durango on their way home were attacked by wolves in March 1891. (3)

Drastic habitat changes probably affected wolves the most. They were absent from the state by the 1910s. In 2010 reports of wolves in the state were still considered unusual.



1. "Caught on the Fly," Dubuque Herald, December 13, 1876, p. 4. Online: https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=uh8FjILnQOkC&dat=18761213&printsec=frontpage&hl=en

2. "Caught on the Fly," Dubuque Herald, December 11, 1878, p. 4. Online: https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=uh8FjILnQOkC&dat=18781211&printsec=frontpage&hl=en

3. "Municipal Molecules," Dubuque Daily Herald, March 278, 1891, p. 4