Pat yourselves on the back, Care2 members who signed the “Stop the Holley, NY Squirrel Slam!” petition. Your efforts have made a difference.
On February 22, 2014, the eighth annual Squirrel Slam was held in Holley, N.Y., and Friends of Animals (FoA) was again present having organized a protest. Edita Birnkrant, N.Y. Director of FoA, personally handed the petition signatures — in excess of 5,500 — along with your comments to Fire Chief Peter Hendrickson (pictured below). The petition currently has more than 6,200 signatures.
“The Fire Chief was very respectful in taking the petitions and said he would read through all of them and the comments and share them with all the other fire officials,” said Birnkrant to Care2. “I think he was shocked that people from ALL over the world had signed.”
According to an FoA report, “Holley Fire Chief Pete Hendrickson admitted that the Fire Department is divided over whether or not to host another ‘Squirrel Slam’ after FoA’s New York director handed more than 5,500 names of people from around the world who opposed the event in an online petition.”
It was only last year that this peculiar killing contest came to the attention of FoA. The organization is determined to not only get it stopped but has helped introduce legislation that would ban killing contests in the entire state. New York Senate bill #4074 and Assembly bill #03661 were introduced last year and are winding their way through the legislative process.
Killing contests are controversial even among hunters. While many local residents support the Squirrel Slam as a way to teach children responsible gun safety, others are ashamed this is what’s putting Holley, “on the map.”
You may recall in Holley, children as young as 12 are allowed to participate in the annual Squirrel Slam. “Squirrels are like the gateway drugs for young hunters. This type of contest desensitizes kids to killing and then they move on to larger animals like deer,” said Priscilla Feral, president of the international organization, Friends of Animals.
This year an estimated 400 hunters participated in the Squirrel Slam. The maximum squirrel corpses allowed for each entrant was six; this extrapolates to a potential of 2,400 squirrels killed in that one day. Animal cruelty isn’t the only consideration in this killing contest. The local ecosystem is being affected as well. In the FoA news alert on the recent Squirrel Slam in Holley, author Richard Thorington Jr. is quoted:
In his book, “Squirrels: The Animal Answer Guide,” Richard Thorington Jr. admits to being asked why squirrels are important, and replies: “We scarcely know where to start. We have an impressive list of answers to present them,” including squirrels as prey items and as ecosystem engineers, playing a significant role in the regeneration of forests around the world as agents of dispersal. Squirrels are considered key dispersers of at least nine genera of nut bearing trees and at least one species of conifer.
What You Can Do
1. New York residents can contact their legislators to seek support of Senate Bill 4074 and Assembly Bill 03661 by checking here.
2. Write a letter to the editor of one of New York’s larger newspapers expressing support for Senate Bill #4074 and Assembly Bill #03661. Example: The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, New York Post, Daily News.
Photo credit: Thinkstock
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