Following WWI there was an increasing concern about fast rising food prices. Everyone was having to "tighten their belts". Anything that affected the pioneer's ability to support themselves and their families became of paramount importance. In Alaska, fox farmers claimed that vast numbers of eagles were taking their young blue fox right after they left their dens. This would become a unsustainable situation if nothing could be done. The fishermen were submitting pleas for help with claims that the eagles were killing large quantities of spawning salmon. The State of Alaska agreed that the livelihoods of many of it's residents were being threatened.
In 1917 the Alaska Bounty Law was enacted which paid 50 cents for a pair of bald eagle feet. By 1923 the price paid to the homesteaders was $1.00 per pair. This was a significant amount of money that could supplement their very meager incomes and help reduce the numbers of eagles felt to be endangering their ability to farm and fish. Between 1923--1940 it is reported that over 80,000 eagles were killed.
Homesteaders would shoot the eagles and/or lay traps generally baited with rotting fish. Hank Johnson situated his trapping system on the top of a pole. When an eagle was caught he could easily dispatch it with a bullet. The feet would be preserved and sent to Juneau and payment would be received.
In 1953, the eagle (amidst rising alarm by conservationists across the nation) was declared a protected species and could no longer be hunted.
Many of the Gustavus homesteaders would continue to view the bald eagle for years to come as a pest and felt that elimination of as many as possible was warranted.