Their Turn - The Social Justice Movement of Our Time Their Turn - The Social Justice Movement of Our Time

Archives

Fire Department To Host “Squirrel Slam” Killing Contest

February 20, 2015 by Leave a Comment


The News

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.

Hunter carries dead squirrels to the weigh in

Hunter carries dead squirrels to the weigh in

Hunters hang dead squirrels on hood of truck and out the window

Hunters hang dead squirrels on hood of truck and out the window

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.”

Squirrel_slam_2014_protest

About 60 people protested Holley’s 2014 “Squirrel Slam.” The 2015 slam is being held on 2/28

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.

Counter-protesters support the hunters during 2014 Squirrel Slam

Counter-protesters support the hunters during 2014 Squirrel Slam

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.”

FOA's Edita Birnkrant & State Senator Tony Avella announce bill to ban wildlife killing contents

FOA’s Edita Birnkrant & State Senator Tony Avella announce bill to ban wildlife killing contests

Your Turn

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.


Filed under: Entertainment, WIldlife
Tagged with: , , , , , ,

In Battle to Save America’s Wild Horses, Activists Engage in Disruption

January 26, 2015 by Leave a Comment


The News

The U.S. government is waging a war on America’s wild horses, and Friends of Animals (FOA) is getting increasingly aggressive in its efforts to stop it.

FOA asserts that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) – the federal agency charged with protecting wild horses – is wiping them out on behalf of powerful ranchers who want the public land to graze their cattle. The government either sterilizes the horses with PZP or uses low-flying helicopters to chase them into fenced-in traps which bring them – and their freedom – to a screeching halt.

Helicopters chase terrified horses into traps (photo: returntofreedom.org)

Helicopters chase terrified horses into traps (photo: returntofreedom.org)

“The BLM is exterminating wild horses because cattle ranchers regard them as pests,” said Edita Birnkrant, Director of Campaigns for Friends of Animals. “But we’ve reach a tipping point. To save those who remain, we must disrupt business as usual.”

At a recent BLM meeting in Nevada, Ms. Birnkrant seized control of the microphone and announced that the “BLM is managing wild horses to extinction through roundups and PZP” and “pimping our land out to ranchers.” Within minutes, she and her colleague Nicole Rivard, who filmed the protest, were escorted out of the conference room and expelled from the hotel, in spite of the fact that they were paying guests.

The Nevada disruption was not FOA’s first act of civil disobedience. In September, 15 protesters with FOA occupied the BLM’s Wyoming office and temporarily blocked the entrance to a nearby holding pen for wild horses.

Activists block entrance to horse holding pen

Activists block entrance to horse holding pen

In an effort to protect the remaining horses, FOA isn’t just relying on provocative protests. In June 2014, the organization filed a petition it with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to list North American wild horses as endangered under the Federal Endangered Species Act. They expect an answer within the next five months.

The BLM vehemently denies allegations by horse advocates and claims that it works to “ensure that healthy herds thrive on healthy rangelands.” But the “smaller print” on its website reveals the conflict of interest that FOA and other groups describe: “The BLM monitors rangeland conditions . . . to determine the number of animals, including livestock and wildlife, that the land can support.” Why does federal government allow privately-owned “livestock” on public land in the first place? Also, isn’t the BLM’s use of tax dollars to round up wild horses on behalf of cattle ranchers really just a meat subsidy covered in horse blood?

Cattle graze on public land (photo: thewildlifenews.com)

Cattle graze on public land (photo: thewildlifenews.com)

On it’s website, the BLM also states that it “gathers excess wild horses and burros from areas where vegetation and water could become scarce if too many animals use the area.” What it fails to mention, of course, is that private cattle who are brought onto the public land consume far more water and vegetation than the wild horses.

Before Ms. Birnkrant disrupted the BLM meeting in Nevada, she heard a cattle rancher tell a BLM representative that he “wants to open a horse butcher shop.” The two of them, she said, had a big laugh.

Wild horses in BLM trap (photo: equineink.com)

Wild horses in BLM trap (photo: equineink.com)

Your Turn

Please ask U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell to list North American wild horses on public lands as “threatened” or “endangered” under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). This designation represents their best hope for the survival. We can also help the horses by going vegan. If we put the cattle ranchers out of business, then they will no longer steal public land inhabited by the wild horses.


Filed under: Food, WIldlife
Tagged with: , , , , ,

Activists to Engage in Civil Disobedience

September 22, 2014 by Leave a Comment


The News

With the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) chasing and trapping horses on public lands and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service refusing to intervene, activists with Friends of Animals (FOA) will, on Monday, engage in civil disobedience to disrupt, protest and raise awareness of the government’s reckless roundup of America’s wild horses. The direct action will take place at a location in Rock Springs, Wyoming being disclosed only the media.

wild horse roundup

Edita Birnkrant, Friends of Animals

During the most recent roundup in Wyoming, the BLM kidnapped 179 horses, tearing apart families and killing three horses in the process. The government is clearing the land of horses on behalf of cattle ranchers, who covet the public land for grazing.

In addition to engaging in civil disobedience, FOA plans to sue the government for its failure to list the quickly vanishing horses as “threatened” or “endangered” under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), a designation that represents the best hope for their survival. Wild horses have already been exterminated in six states.


Filed under: Food, WIldlife
Tagged with: , , , , ,