Unwarranted killing of animals is bad enough, but holding an animal killing contest – that’s just wrong! A tiny rural town in upstate New York has been doing just that for the past seven years. They have no plans to stop, either. The next “Squirrel Slam” –created as a fundraiser for the Holley, NY Fire Department — is scheduled to take place this year on February 22nd.
When this atrocity became known by animal advocates last year, Friends of Animals (FoA) initiated a campaign to stop it. Bringing much needed attention to the event in hopes of educating an uninformed public, FoA organized a demonstration in Holley, NY. Local residents showed up to counter-protest and their participation became derisive. Watch the mini documentary produced by FoA to get a first-hand view of the reactions.
Edita Birnkrant, NY Director of FoA, actually received a death threat by local Hilton, NY resident, Gregory Roth, who was promptly arrested on charges of second degree harassment. This violation carries a maximum penalty of 15 days in jail. It is undetermined what, if any, punishment Roth received.
Squirrel Slam Defined
Tickets are sold to squirrel hunters for $10 to a maximum number of 1,000. Anyone from the age of 12 or older can participate. Prizes include three amounts of money ($200, $100 and $50) to the hunter team with the highest weight of any combination of up to five squirrel corpses. In 2013 an added prize of $50 in the 12 – 14 year old category for the heaviest single dead squirrel was created. There were also drawings for five different guns. Hunting is a big part of the accepted culture in Holley. So, the Holley Fire Department creating a killing contest to raise money is viewed as “normal” for the small upstate town.
The fire department chief, Peter Hendrickson, refused FoA offers to assist in establishing non-violent fundraisers. The town’s mayor, John Kenney Jr., refused to even meet with FoA. “Holley has been unchallenged for so long,” reports Birnkrant “and the residents are indicative of what this [hunting] culture produces.” Birnkrant also told Care2 at last year’s demonstration she was surprised but delighted to find a few local residents actually come out to demonstrate with FoA.
As reported in cnhi news:
The fury over the event brought out villagers who sat on both sides of the issue, many who said they’ve never noticed the occasion in past years. Bonnie Fleischauer, who lives four blocks from the fire hall, said she thought the postings from her friends were a joke.
“I’ve supported the fire department, they’re a good group of guys … always helping people,” said Feischauer, an avid animal photographer and former wildlife rehabilitator, who spoke from the main protesting area. “This is so in opposition to what they represent the other 364 days of the year.”
The counter-protestors outnumbered animal advocates by more than 2 to 1 and included children and teenagers cheering and screaming as the hunters carried dead squirrels to the fire department to be weighed. Some attached the squirrel corpses to their trucks and autos while others hung them from their belts and jackets, waving the dead bodies at FoA protestors and taunting them with lines like “squirrels taste good.”
A massive social media campaign last year created the awareness of this killing contest. FoA worked in conjunction with New York legislators to create bills banning killing contests in New York. The Daily News reported Hendrickson received about 3,200 emails against the squirrel slam and 500 in support.
What You Can Do
If you feel this “Squirrel Slam” is an atrocity that needs to be ended:
- View the mini documentary to learn about the barbaric event.
- Sign the Care2 petition.
- Contact Holley Fire Department online and ask they stop the egregious killing of animals. Request they plan a non-violent fund raiser. Calls can be made to 585-638-6884.
- Email Mayor Kenney to request he stop the killing at: Mayor@Villageofholley.org
- New York residents can contact their legislators to seek support of Senate Bill 4074 and Assembly Bill 03661 by checking here.
Photo credit: Thinkstock