Recently, in the City of Santa Monica, California, officials came up with a novel way to control the squirrel population in Palisades Park. County officials are concerned that the squirrels pose a danger to public health, but the city wants a more humane solution to the problem than the usual method of euthanasia. Instead, they are opting to give the squirrels a contraceptive vaccine.
Public officials in North Carolina figured out a good way to deal with this problem a long time ago. In the 1760s, the General Assembly passed a law requiring certain citizens to kill the squirrels and crows who came across their paths. The law, entitled “An Act for Destroying Crows and Squirrels in the Several Counties therin Mentioned,” put a bounty on the heads of these pests. North Carolina legislators figured that with a little financial incentive, they could get all citizens to help in the efforts to solve the squirrel overpopulation problem.
To provide proof that they had done their civic duty, plantation owners and overseers in certain counties were required to bring at least seven crow heads or squirrel scalps to a justice of the peace for each taxable in his or her household. The penalty for a householder not killing his or her quota of pests was four pence for each animal, and the reward for killing more than the requisite number was also four pence per animal.