In April 1918, during World War II, California children planned to slaughter 100,000 squirrels regularly. They were considered a pest by the state because of California’s habit of consuming about 30 million worth of crops every year. After years of farmers trying to drive them away, such as Elmer Foods, but failed to bring them under control, the state took action with its own idea: to kill children at every end of the adorable little irritating torment.
As you can imagine, removing a species from the face of a planet is not the easiest thing on Earth – even in the days before PS5 and Shrek. As well as trying to get them out, try telling a child “here’s a list of the creatures I want to kill you” and see how you look. Fortunately, the state had a plan. They will only start a $ 40,000 campaign against squirrels, comparing them to top-ranking Germans.
The operation, which involved creating competition among schoolchildren for what could kill the most critics, was kicked out by state commissioner George H. Heck, who called on children to form an “army of soldiers” so that they could attend and Destroys “squirrel army”, an unusually belligerent term for “squirrel”
Lectures were given to assemble the soldiers, and some of the most outrageous posters you would sometimes see (perhaps quite upset) distributing to children. The squirrel wore Kaiser Wilhelm’s costume as well as drawing squirrels as greedy fools under catchy slogans like “Kill the squirrels” and “Kill the mother squirrels during the breeding season”.
The killings took place after the propaganda. Called “Squirrel Week” – it was more of genocide than an adorable name – it was asked to bring tails to schools as evidence of the killing of children and its subsequent isolation. This is because, before the leadership of Squirrel Week, they were instructed to send directly to the Horticultural Commission, which began to cause death due to the “accumulation of groundwood tails” in the office.
The methods of killing range from poison to shooting and everything in between. “All killing devices in modern warfare will be used in an effort to eradicate the squirrel army, including gas-poisoned barley and other destructive agents,” a news release said at the time.
“A huge amount of this supply is being attacked on fronts where the fighting will intensify. Days today the fighting will intensify with the war and will be at the height announced by the governor from April 29 to May 4 during the state” Squirrel Week “on 4 May.
The leaflet promotion was clearly effective, as the week-long frenzy brought a staggering 104,509 tails. The Commissioner congratulated the children in the local newspaper for giving them “patriotic service” and encouraged them to do it now in their spare time for entertainment rather than end the competition, instead of trying badminton. A week later, and even after the rewards, the killings continued unabated in several counties, with one apparently terrifying baby bringing in 3,780 dead squirrels, which I guess helped at least his math.