Protestors again target ‘Squirrel Slam’ in HolleyBy Tom Rivers
HOLLEY – A “Squirrel Slam” fund-raiser that drew national attention, and a record number of participants last year, will continue this year with the event scheduled for Feb. 22.
This is the eighth year the Holley Fire Department has planned the fund-raiser. The first six years there was no controversy. Last year, the Friends of Animals organization made stopping the event a mission, sending letters to the editor and press releases to the media.
The group showed up in Holley to protest the event, and worked with state legislators to draft legislation to ban animal-killing contests, bills that haven’t passed the Legislature.
“This is the second year FoAis challenging the Holley Fire Department to cancel the violent, regressive ‘Squirrel Slam,’” said Edita Birnkrant, FoA’s NY Director.Â “Our experiences protesting the event last year showed a sickening, gun-worshipping culture of adults, teenagers and children who celebrated the violence of mass animal killingâ€”cheering on the hunters as they waved fistfuls of dead squirrels in our faces and in the air, even plastered them on their cars, before they entered the fire house to weigh the corpses and win cash and gun prizes.”
Orleans Hub has reached out to Fire Department officials for about two weeks for comments about the Squirrel Slam, but hasn’t received a return call or text message. The department doesn’t highlight the fund-raiser on its web site.
The Daily News of Batavia reports today that the department doesn’t want to comment on the event this year. (Click here for The Daily News article.)
Friends of Animals will press state legislators to support bills introduced in the Assembly and Senate that would ban wildlife-killing contests.
“Coyotes, squirrels and crows are frequently targeted in New York State in killing contests,” Birnkrant said. “The need to pass pending legislation to ban wildlife-killing contests in New York couldn’t be more urgent.”
In the Holley competition contestants pay an entry fee and then go hunting for squirrels. Hunters as young as 12 can win prizes for biggest squirrels shot.
Animal rights activists protested last year and urged Holley to cancel the event. The Village Board and Fire Department let it continue and participation surged from the usual 250 to about 700. Outside police were brought in to help manage the protest.