A Town in New York is Having Its Annual Squirrel-Killing Contest Soon

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.”

Screen shot from FoA documentary video

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:

Photo credit: Thinkstock


Jim Ven
Jim V2 years ago

thanks for the article.

Carrie-Anne Brown

signed, thanks for sharing :)

Elke Hoppenbrouwers

I don't like squirrels because they keep the birds from my feeders by eating seeds themselves. But hunting squirrels and making it a fundraiser is not right. The town should stop rewarding the killing of wildlife. There are many other ways to raise funds much less lethal.

Cathy Scilin
Cathy Scilin3 years ago

Hey, lard butt firemen. Instead of killing these poor, defenseless animals, why don't you have a contest, to see which one of you fat fu- - - - -, could lose the most weight ? Most of you lard butt, beer belly gutted hogs, have to lose at least 50 pounds.

Sheyla V.
Sheyla V3 years ago

Really? That's disgusting. It's especially disgusting that they are using this event to fundraise for a "good cause" and offering cash incentives... how low can you go?
They should be doing some sort of fundraiser in which it has an actual purpose , maybe promotes the fire safety... this is just so senseless.

Ruhee B.
Ruhee B3 years ago

Disgusting - these lowlife are sick.

Jennifer H.
Jennifer H3 years ago

This is repulsive that a fire department would condone, let alone conduct, an animal abuse contest. Entertainment by killing. Why don't the just watch a few houses burn instead? It makes about as much sense. Why don't the just have an annual boot drive like other communities have and that are well supported?

Marcia Moore
Marcia Moore3 years ago

I am shocked that a Fire Dept would want to be connected in any way with an event that has to do with taking life. Most life saving entities want to be associated with fundraisers or events that are above reproach and certainly any that would bring so much tension and division to a community. I live down the street from our communities EMS. My dog was choking and would never have made it to the emergency clinic across in the next town over. She was near death when ran into their building with dying in my arms. They had me sit down, holding her upright and with an instrument was able to push the treat down into her stomach. We all had tears in our eyes as she took a deep breath. I will never forget their comforting words to me as I sobbed..."A life is a life to us"! Life saving professionals don't get any better than that! That's the example we need in our communities for our children!
Any contests that involves taking the breath from a living soul is despicable and is sending the wrong message to children. I used to live in upstate NY, if I were still there I too would have been with the Friends of Animals, who show a respect for life.

Ken W.
Ken W3 years ago

Maybe we could go back to stoning people when there bad after animals kids are next !!!

Kathleen R.
Kathleen R3 years ago

Petition signed