Protestors of Squirrel Slam say hunting contest 'is a crime against nature'
Photo from Friends of Animals Facebook page
Protestors were in Holley last February for the seventh annual Squirrel Slam.
They will be back again on Saturday.
(This article was updated from an earlier version that stated Friends of Animals
isn't against hunting. The group is opposed all hunting, said director Edita
By Tom Rivers, editor Posted 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
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
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
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
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
"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
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