Photo by Inga Smith

The Great Squirrel Hunt of 1822

When the pioneers arrived, Clinton Township was a thick wilderness filled with deer, wolves, bears and squirrels. The task at hand for the pioneers was to convert the wilderness of the Northwest Territory to productive farmland. As crops were planted, it was determined that the squirrel population would need to be culled. In 1807, pioneers were required to pay taxes and to turn in a designated number of squirrel skins. The number ranged from 10 to 100 per citizen. Those who found themselves short were required to pay 3 cents per missing skin. Those who were more zealous in their efforts were rewarded 2 cents per excessive skin. In 1822, the squirrel population was deemed to be so large as to put the crops at risk. A general plea was made for hunters-at least two in each township. During the Grand Squirrel Hunt of 1822, more than 19,000 pelts were collected.

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