Squirrel-killing contest is totally nuts - OPINION
blog by S.J. Velasquez • February 15, 2013 @ 9:42am
About an hour outside of Buffalo, children are invited to shoot live squirrels for fun and prizes.
Yes, children with guns.
Yes, these tots with weapons will be killing squirrels for sport.
Oh, and contestants can win prizes, such as guns.
The annual Hazzard County Squirrel Slam, scheduled for Saturday near Brockport in Holley, N.Y., is a fundraiser organized by the Holley Fire Department. The event is a contest that challenges participants to shoot and kill the heaviest squirrel(s). Cash and gun prizes are awarded to teams with the heaviest pile of dead squirrels (maximum of five squirrels per pile), and the individual who kills the single heaviest squirrel of the lot.
Children ages 14 and younger are invited to partake in the individuals portion of the contest.
Descent human beings, of course, are apposed to the woodland creature-killing hootenanny. New York State Sen. Tony Avella, a Democrat from Queens, met with animal advocates Monday in Albany to protest the squirrel shootout.
“It’s bad on so many levels,” Avella told Albany’s Times Union. ” ... A poor little squirrel getting a nut and probably coming up to the individual to try and be friendly—and then the kid pulls out a gun and shoots it.”
Hunting in Western New York is not unusual, nor is the practice of teaching children how to handle guns. I come from a family of hunters, and among our households, there’s a lot of venison-filled freezers (mine excluded), but I’ll never fully understand killing as a sport. Avella seems to echo my own concerns:
“I understand that hunting is an important thing for upstate New York and is part of the culture,” Avella told the Albany newspaper, “but this goes way beyond that — it’s just insane.”
The Humane Society of the United States has also taken notice of the inhumane event, writing a letter to Holley Fire Department Chief Pete Hendrickson.
“The Squirrel Slam has attracted significant attention with hundreds of letters, emails and phone calls being directed to your attention from concerned citizens worldwide,” the letter, partially printed in the Daily News, states. “We were recently contacted by members of the Holley community who were upset about the event and requested that we contact you directly. The HSUS shares their concerns; we believe that a contest kill for cash or other prizes is not a sensitive way to raise important funds for the Holley Fire Department and negatively reflects on the life-saving services that your department provides to the community.”
For the record, squirrels are my favorite animals.