California Schoolchildren and the Great Squirrel War


A squirrel is seen eating a nut on April 17, 2016 in Bonn, Germany. Photo by Andreas Rentz / Getty Images

In 1918, as the planet was consumed by World War I, the government of California found itself combating an unexpected and catastrophic enemy: Ground squirrels. The rodents were wreaking havoc across the countryside, consuming crops left and right. State horticulture commissioner George H. Hecke proposed an unorthodox solution -- enlist schoolchildren in a statewide massacre of all ground squirrels. Oddly enough, it worked.