Whether they fly, run, or climb, squirrels are one of the most common species rehabilitated in wildlife centers across the nation. They play an essential role in our ecosystem by helping establish root systems for indigenous plants and providing a food source for predators that also are essential to the ecosystem. Squirrels even help to reestablish lands that are overgrazed by domestic livestock. We, as wildlife rehabilitators, have the privilege to care for these animals and release them so they can assert their much needed presence in the environment.
However, not everyone values wildlife; specifically, the squirrels. On February 16, 2013, Holley, NY Fire Department held their seventh annual "Squirrel Slam" Contest as a fundraiser. This event was to sell 1,000 tickets and allowing each hunter to take up to five squirrels from the wildnerness. Potentially, 5,000 squirrels were at risk of losing their lives, many times not very quickly. Although many Holley residents look at this event as symbolic of their tradition in hunting, it is nothing more than a mass killing due to the ignorance of and outright lack of respect for this valuable species.
Many animal rights advocates convened on Holley, NY on the day of the killing in order to protest the event. They were met with rage, vulgarity, constant attempts to incite verbal & physical conflict as well as even a death threat by one of the hunters. In addition, Holley hunters and their supporters committed the grotesque practice of driving by the pro-wildlife protestors with cars covered with dead squirrels. Some of the protestors even had dead, bloody squirrels thrown at them in the center of the intersection where they stood peacefully and legally making their views known and demanding respect for wildlife.
The obnoxious and unwarranted behavior of the "holley hunters" and their supporters puts the killing contest on a whole new level of urgency in polictical circles as pro-wildlife advocates work to illegalize animal killing contests. The blatant backward thinking (or lack of much thinking at all) and obvious hatred of animals and wildlife is something many of us thought was almost eliminated in today's educated, environmentally-conscious society. However, since the Holley Protest, pro-wildlife advocates have uncovered a plethora of wildlife killing contests and trophy hunting, many times organized under the guise of a worthy cause and involving children. Reports of coyote mass killings in Wayne county as well as killing of crows, fox and even inappropriate killing of white-tail deer, have been uncovered.
We ask that every person who reads this summary to follow the link below and sign the petition that is going to end up at the White House. We also ask you to contact your legislators to express concern and advocate for our state's wildlife.