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Owls bounce back from bounty-hunting days

"Kill them all," wrote the Rev. Noel J. Allen in 1920, regarding the incentive posed by a recently-increased bounty from the state for the destruction of hawks and owls.

"In a comparatively short time in Gloucester 227 men and boys and one woman have killed 983 hawks and 137 big owls, and the good work is still going strong," Allen wrote to the Mathews Journal.

He was a fierce advocate of eradicating the raptors in order to preserve chicken yards and the quail population. And in that distant time when Allen wrote, the Virginia Game Commission was matching each county-paid bounty of 25 cents or more a bird, with 25 cents from state funds.

The bounty lasted for some years but was gone by 1937, when Allen vented his frustration in another letter to the Journal: "The present statewide wail over the disappearance of small game and the reappearance of the scourge of hawks, owls, crows and other vermin shows a … despicable tolerance. The statewide bount...

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