As we’ve been reporting JK Rowling has been taking to Pottermore this week to help give background to the history of magic in North America. The point is to keep fans happy with new content and also give some important context before the release of the upcoming film, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Yesterday, the site tackled the the relationship between Native Americans and magic. Today, she’s teaching the dark truth behind the Salem Witch Trials.

As it turns out, life was hard for wizards in North America. One of the worst dangers that they faced were called the Scourers, magic bounty hunters who ran amok in the absence of an actual ministry of magic.

The greed and corruption among the Scourers led them to even paint no-mag’s as wizards, just to collect the extra bounty. It was this brutality that led to the Salem Witch Trials, and which in turn served as a catalyst for the North American Ministry of Magic.

As the wizarding community in America was small, scattered and secretive, it had as yet no law enforcement mechanism of its own. This left a vacuum that was filled by an unscrupulous band of wizarding mercenaries of many foreign nationalities, who formed a much-feared and brutal taskforce committed to hunting down not only known criminals, but anyone who might be worth some gold. As time went on, the Scourers became increasingly corrupt. Far away from the jurisdiction of their native magical governments, many indulged a love of authority and cruelty unjustified by their mission.

You can get the complete story over at Pottermore. Check back tomorrow for a recap of the next story.