Salt Lake County used to offer a bounty on an assortment of pests – including sparrows and ground squirrels. To collect the bounty a citizen had to bring in sparrow eggs, or in the case of squirrels, their tails. However, over time people started cutting the tails in half so they could claim the bounty for two squirrels (2 cents each, with a minimum of 50 tails per payment). The county caught on and realized they had to come up with a new way to pay out the bounty for squirrels, so they decided to count heads instead. So people started collecting squirrel heads and pickling them in jars to take to the county.
This may seem like a gruesome and antiquated practice from the past, but it also offers some perspective. When you are having a rough day at work just stop and think, at least you’re not spending your day counting pickled squirrel heads.
Entry contributed by Dr. Michaele Smith, Archivist, Salt Lake County Archives.