A fire department whose motto is to “save lives” is hosting a shocking event to end them.
On February 28th, the Holley fire department in upstate New York is hosting its ninth annual “Squirrel Slam,” a squirrel hunting contest that raises funds for the fire station. Hunters who kill the heaviest squirrels win cash and other prizes.
The “Squirrel Slam” is nine years old, but animal right activists only learned about it two years ago. In 2013, Friends of Animals (FOA) offered to host an alternative fundraiser that would raise more money that the squirrel hunt, but the fire department turned them down. In 2014, FOA staged a demonstration that attracted 60 people. Video shows hunters and their supporters taunting, harassing and, in a couple of cases, threatening the protesters.
Activists have also been working to cancel the hunt online and in court. For the Love of Alex, a charity that provides veterinary care to pets in urgent need, sent a letter to the Mayor of Holley offering to pay the fire department to call off the hunt:
“We, as citizens, look to our government, police and fire officials to set examples of conduct and decency, of fairness and compromise. For a fire department to sponsor and organize the mass slaughter of innocent living beings in the name of fun is really the wrong message to send your constituents and our children, who you have invited to participate. We implore you to consider permitting our 501c3 org to donate to the Holley Fire Dept. the amount equivalent to last year’s net proceeds from the event, which we understand to be the sum of $4,000, in exchange for cancellation of the event.”
On the legal side, an area resident filed a lawsuit to block the hunt on the grounds that it violates the State Environmental Quality Review Act, which prohibits the destruction of large quantities of vegetation or animals in a confined geographic area. On February 19th, a county judge heard arguments and dismissed the case.
When activists brought the squirrel hunt to the attention of state lawmakers, several introduced legislation to outlaw all killing contests in New York. At a press conference announcing the bill, Senator Tony Avella said, “Running a contest in which participants must kill as many small and defenseless animals as possible to win prizes, including guns, is a disgrace. What kind of message are we sending to our youth, especially in light of the increasing gun violence in this country.”
1. Sign the petition to the Mayor of Holley and to the Holley Fire Department asking that they cancel the 2015 “Squirrel Slam”
2. Sign the petition to State Lawmakers to support the legislation to end wildlife killing contests in New York.
3. If you live in New York, please ask your state legislator to support the legislation prohibiting wildlife killing contests.
4. Call the Mayor of Holley, NY and explain why the “Squirrel Slam” should be cancelled. Dial 585-638-6367 and press 5 to reach a live person or leave a message.