NY Times does feature on Squirrel Slam

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 27 February 2017 at 10:23 am

Provided photo: Richard Brummel, an environmental activist from Long Island who opposes the Squirrel Slam, was in Holley on Feb. 18, holding signs in the Public Square against the hunting contest.

The New York Times has a big feature story today on the Squirrel Slam hunting contest, profiling environmentalists who oppose the annual hunt and also including the perspective of local hunters.

Click here to see “Squirrel Hunt in Western New York Draws Ire of Animal Lovers.”

The controversial hunting contest has been sponsored by the Holley Fire Department in recent years. The hunt was back on Saturday, but this time the Holley Fire Department wasn’t part of the Squirrel Slam. The Elks Lodge in Brockport hosted the event.

Dennis Bauer of Hamlin has organized all 11 of the Squirrel Slams, beginning in 2007. He was interviewed by The New York Times.

Bauer has previously told the Orleans Hub he puts on the Squirrel Slam as a motivation to get friends and family out together on the last day of the hunting season.

“My thought was it was one more time to get buddies and families out together,” Bauer told the Orleans Hub for an article on Feb. 28, 2015. (Click here to see that article.)

A lawsuit about the hunting contest was given new life in December when an Appellate Court reversed a decision by James Punch, acting Supreme Court justice in Orleans County. Punch on Feb. 19, 2015 dismissed a lawsuit “in its entirety.”

The case was formally brought by a Wayne County woman, Lauren Sheive, who said the “Slam” wiped out thousands of local squirrels. The lawsuit contended the event required an environmental impact review to assess the impact on the squirrel population.

Punch on Feb. 19, 2015 compared the Squirrel Slam to fishing contest. He said no laws were being broken.

The Appellate Court on Dec. 23 reversed Punch’s decision, and sent the case back to Orleans County. The Appellate Court didn’t give an opinion on the “Squirrel Slam” itself, but said Punch should have allowed the case to be presented in court instead of dismissing it.

Associate Anup Misra from Winston & Strawn, a New York City law firm, is leading the legal effort. The firm is taking the case pro bono.

The Squirrel Slam attracted a media frenzy in 2013, drawing national and international attention from animal rights’ activists. But by last year, environmental activist Richard Brummel of Long Island was one of the few protestors in the Public Square when hunters brought their bags of squirrels to be weighed. Brummel was back in Holley on Feb. 18 to protest the slam, which didn’t occur that day.

The hunting season for gray, black and fox squirrel runs from Sept. 1 to Feb. 28 and there is a daily bag limit of 6. Red squirrels may be hunted anytime and there is no limit, according to the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

Brummel has said the hunt happens at a time when many squirrels are pregnant. He said thousands of squirrels are eliminated with the Squirrel Slam and that kind of environmental impact should be addressed.

Arguments in the case are scheduled for today at the Orleans County Courthouse.

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