Protestors of Squirrel Slam say hunting contest ‘is a crime against nature’

By Tom Rivers, editor 19 February 2014

HOLLEY – Edita Birnkrant doesn’t want to take away anyone’s Second Amendment rights. But she does want to make shooting animals illegal when it’s part of a fund-raiser.

Birnkrant is director of Friends of Animals in New York. She will be in Holley on Saturday for the 8th annual Squirrel Slam. She may be joined by hundreds of FOA supporters from several states.

“We share the landscape with wildlife,” Birnkrant said by phone this afternoon from New York City. “I see this as a crime against nature.”

Friends of Animals plans a peaceful protest near the Holley Firehall from 4:30 to 6 p.m. on Saturday. Birnkrant was in Holley last year for the Squirrel Slam and she said some of the hunters taunted her with dead squirrels, holding them out towards her as they passed by for the weigh station at the firehall.

Police have told Birnkrant the Friends of Animals will be separated from the hunters on Saturday. Police don’t want the hunters walking through a pack of protestors.

This year’s event has the added dimension of the New York Revolution, a group that formed last year after the state passed the controversial gun control measure known as the SAFE Act. The group is expected to be in Holley on Saturday, showing its support for the Second Amendment.

Birnkrant said she doesn’t want to infringe on the Second Amendment.

“We’re not trying to take guns away,” she said. “We think wildlife killing contests should be unlawful. As a society we have to evolve from this.”

The Holley event isn’t the only fund-raiser where participants hunt wildlife. Other events target crows and coyotes. But Birnkrant said Holley’s Squirrel Slam is unusual because it has a fire department as its sponsor and
welcomes children as young as 12 to participate.

Participants bring up to five squirrels to the weigh station and prizes go to the heaviest cumulative entry. The event on Saturday, despite little advertising, quickly was a sellout and capped at 650 participants.

The Squirrel Slam generates about $6,500 in revenue for the Fire Department. After it pays out $1,500 for prizes, $500 for food and $440 to Holley for police overtime, Fire Department President Fran Gaylord said the event nets about $4,000.

Friends of Animals plans to present a petition to village and fire department officials, asking that the event be cancelled in the future. Friends has offered to make up the fund-raising loss for the fire department, Birnkrant said.

Bills in both the State Assembly and Senate call for banning wildlife hunting contests. That doesn’t include fishing derbies. Birnkrant said that her goal is to stop the contests that call for killing of land animals. She
doesn’t see the contests as hunting in the traditional sense.

“Most people would be horrified by a dog or cat killing contest because they are pets,” Birnkrant said. “I’m horrified by a squirrel killing contest. They feel pain.”

Friends of Animals is actually against all hunting, but the group’s immediate goal is to see state legislation approved to ban wildlife hunting contests.

Birnkrant said her group hopes to show its opposition to the Holley event on Saturday, and doesn’t want to get into any confrontations with supporters of the Squirrel Slam.

“I would hope it would be pretty uneventful,” she said.

Holley police expects to have at least five officers on duty Saturday afternoon with additional support from the Albion Police Department and New York State Police.

Photo copyright Jim Robertson

Photo copyright Jim Robertson

9 thoughts on “Protestors of Squirrel Slam say hunting contest ‘is a crime against nature’

  1. Pingback: Protestors of Squirrel Slam say hunting contest ‘is a crime against nature’ | GarryRogers Conservation and Science Fiction: #EcoSciFi

  2. On Saturday, Feb. 22nd, Holley, NY was the worst place in America. Thanks to everyone at Friends of Animals for putting their boots on the ground in Holley to challenge the worst, foolish ideas and vile conduct. Animal killing contests are a blight on humanity; the work ahead seeks to outlaw them. Thanks to thousands across NY and the nation who offered kindness to protesters and got out of their own way to object to hunting squirrels. Indoctrinating children to be so insensitive — to frame animal cruelty as a sporting event to which prizes are awarded should send shivers up any decent person’s spine.

    • “Sporting” events like the “squirrel slam” are an embarrassment and adds to the perception that this is an inherently violent country. How can kids be expected to know the difference between officially sanctioned animal cruelty and acts of cruelty they come up with on their own.

      Thanks for the inside scoop, and for standing up to these kind of atrocities. Let’s make them a thing of the past!

  3. Pingback: Protestors ‘Squirrel Slam is a crime against nature’ | GarryRogers Conservation and Science Fiction: #EcoSciFi

  4. Pingback: The Animals Support Gun Control | Exposing the Big Game

  5. Absolutely disgusting and although this article states that this particular contest is unusual because it raises money for a local fire department. I have found that many of these killing contests are held across the country to raise money for fire departments.
    One would think that fire departments would be more responsible in their fund raising techniques.

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