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Sen. Avella, animal rights' group, calls for end to squirrel killing fundraiser

February 11, 2013

Gazette staff writer

Sen. Tony Avella, D-Whitestone, along with animal advocacy group Friends of Animals, spoke out against a competitive squirrel shooting fundraiser in the Village of Holley, Orleans County, that involves children using guns to shoot as many squirrels as they can.

Sen. Tony Avella, D-Whitestone, along with animal advocacy group Friends of Animals, spoke out against a competitive squirrel shooting fundraiser in the Village of Holley, Orleans County.
Avella said he is not against hunting or breaking tradition, but the competition cannot be considered hunting since no one uses the squirrels after they are shot.

"I understand that hunting is a very important part of upstate New York and part of the culture," said Avella. "But this goes way beyond, this is just insane."

The competition, called "Squirrel Slam" is held by the local fire department as a fundraising event. Those who wish to participate in the event sign up for a small fee and are then divided into age categories where individuals will compete against each other. Prizes include cash and a rifle, according to Friends of Animals.

Though the judges of the competition weigh the largest of five squirrels, there is no limit on how many squirrels they can shoot and there is no attempt to clean them up from the area they are competing in, according to information presented at the anti-Squirrel Slam press conference.

Edita Birnkrant, director of the Friends of Animals New York chapter said the competition is inhuman and only encourages kids to practice violence.

"How atrocious that 12-year-old children are indoctrinated to treat animals like inanimate targets and be rewarded with money and firearms for such violent aggressive behavior?" said Birnkrant.

Avella pointed out certain guns normally used and awarded in the event are now illegal under the recently enacted NY SAFE Act.

Some opposing the Squirrel Slam started an online petition intended to raise money and promised to donate to the Holley Fire Department if they put a stop to the event. The petition also offers new alternatives to the competition to raise money in the future.

"What we want to see is that these kinds of killing contests are made illegal in New York State," said Birnkrant.

Though the hunting of small game is legal in New York, Avella said, the law requires the hunter make use of the game in order for it to be considered hunting.

So far, the squirrel shooting event has gained 4,000 participants and is scheduled to take place Feb. 16.

"I hope the [village] recognizes the fact that this is not a proper way to raise money," said Avella. "This is just encouraging children to kill defenseless animals. I can't tell you how disgusted I am with this."

  1. print email
    Squirrel slam
    February 11, 2013 | 05:13 PM

    They don't want to break tradition in the wake of so many shootings and hearings on gun control? They have a hunting period and probably a bag limit. This is not that. The Bible says 'train up a child ...', well look at our schools. Look at all of the mass killings. Yes, I love squirrels but that is not the main reason I write. The children should not be allowed or encouraged to enter this entertainment!

    Margaret Rigsby
  2. print email
    February 11, 2013 | 05:18 PM

    I can't believe this takes place in the United States - it sounds like something that would happen in some barbaric, third world country. ALL those children should be taken away from their UNFIT, SICK parents. Then we wonder why our country has the most mass shootings - we are training CHILDREN to have no empathy or compassion! It literally makes me SICK to think anyone would do this let alone a FIRE DEPARTMENT!

  3. print email
    Killing of the squirrels
    February 11, 2013 | 05:27 PM

    Please stop this barbaric event, if you do not those kids may eventually end up killing people.

    This is just encouraging children to kill … defenseless animals. I can't tell you how disgusted I am with this."

    Carlos Rodriguez
  4. print email
    Holley Squirrel Slam
    February 11, 2013 | 05:50 PM

    I would recommend a petition started for the removal of Sen. Tony Avella from NYS Senate. He based his statements on activists and not facts.

    Anyone who enters the Holley Event must have completed the New York State Hunters Safety Course.

    Every hunter must obtain a current up to date New York State Hunting License.

    All hunters must follow NYS DEC rules and guide lines for hunting.

    In the NYS DEC hunting guide and regulations there is a limit and that is Six.

    Hunters will be taking their game home for food and if they want they can donate to a charity for needy family's.

    12 yr old's can hunt in New York State small game which includes "Squirrels" and ONLY if they have completed the NYS Hunters Safety Course.

    Gun's will only be used under the rules of the NYS DEC.

    Holley Fire Department also stated that after the event the Gun Raffle is only for adults. It also stated on the flyer "Substitute guns may be necessary do to Federal and State gun law changes.

    Sen. Tony Avella should have taken the time to investigate the facts before jumping to "Hear Say"

    Steven Gergely
  5. print email
    February 11, 2013 | 06:51 PM


  6. print email
    Squirrel Slam
    February 11, 2013 | 10:24 PM

    I am the daughter of a caree life fireman and I am also a wildlife rehabilitator for small mammals. It sickens me to see a fire department taking part of such a horrendous event. Also, let me add that the heaviest of the squirrels will be pregnant or lactating... babies will starve to death then mom does not return to feed them. Please stop this while you can.

    Connie Hiebert
  7. print email
    Squirrel Slam
    February 11, 2013 | 11:05 PM

    Before anyone takes part in the slaughter of squirrels, maybe they should have to raise one. Squirrels remain with and nurse from their mothers for up to 3 months. As a wildlife rehabilitator who has spent countless hours raising and rehabbing these amazing little animals, I cannot imagine that someone who has the opportunity to hold one in their hands would ever want to blow one away.
    I am also an elementary school teacher. What, exactly, are you trying to teach your children? How does this make them a better person? There are hundreds of better ways to raise money that are less dangerous.

    Suzanne Johnson
  8. print email
    February 12, 2013 | 02:33 AM

    I killed 160 woodchucks, squirrels, chipmunks and rabbits last year all so you could eat your corn/wheat flakes cereals etc and keep your car running on your green fuels by keeping from eating the crops. So fuck off!!! Every time I read something stupid like this I donate another $100 to the NRA and going to track another rabbit in the snow tonight. And Avella not even in this district. So he can fuck off as well. But thanks for letting me know about the fund raiser(I never knew about it) I plan to donate now.

  9. print email
    Stop this madness
    February 12, 2013 | 04:54 AM

    this event is morally wrong... one day those who kill will experience the pain they have inflicted on the helpless creatures.... I pray that an act of God closes down this cruelty.

    Julie Gallagher
  10. print email
    PLEASE-STOP Killing Innocent Animals!!
    February 12, 2013 | 10:28 AM

    DISGUSTED!! No 'being' deserves to be killed-period! Species, size, color etc. does not matter. To say its 'ok' to KILL one being over another is ridiculous. Would it be 'ok' to have a Dog Slam? Cat Slam? NO! So many people are stuck in their own little, selfish, ignorant worlds and totally lack compassion! Hopefully one day these people can see the bigger picture, with an open mind. No 'being' is superior! We all must practice love and compassion for ALL!! The world would be a much more pleasant place!!!

  11. print email
    Sen. Avella, animal rights' group, calls for end to squirrel kil
    February 12, 2013 | 11:07 AM

    I don't want to insult anybody. But reading about canned hunting that is permissible in some of the states; dove and squirrel shootings just for fun; and wolf, bear, and wild boar hunting with the aid of dogs, it sounds to me as if the U.S. is a very barbaric country. Nowhere else in the fully industrialized world do citizens kill with such gusto. It is very disturbing indeed. And training kids to enjoy random killing of innocent animals? Wow, that's something to be proud of (not).

    Phoebe S.
  12. print email
    Shame on you Senator!
    February 12, 2013 | 11:26 AM

    Senator Avella, you should ashamed of yourself to make the types of remarks you've made in this "press conference" based on out and out garbage fed to you you by a radical animal rights group. Yes, we did notice you looking over at her to make sure you said the "right" things. So...the NYC rats are ok to exterminate because they're not cute fuzzy squirrels???? According to the animal rights folks, sentient (definition: responsive to or conscious of sense impressions )beings shouldn't be hunted because they have "feelings". And according to them, all beings except for insects and other lower life forms aren't sentient and are, therefore, exempt from the same rights. Since squirrels and rats are in the same rodent category, then rats are sentient beings according to the FOA definition. But, I didn't see the animal rights folks pipe in and point out your error. Their body language spokes volumes, was an "oh crap" moment for sure! Perhaps you should just stick with the script and not try to freelance next time!

  13. print email
    Unsavory tactics
    February 12, 2013 | 12:11 PM

    Among the many unethical and unsavory tactics being utilized by the various animal activist groups is a petition to cut off FEMA funding to our 100% volunteer fire department. This should display without a doubt what lengths these groups will go to to "win". They obviously have no qualms about seeking the removal of a fire department from a community, leaving that community's residents at risk. Let properties burn leaving families homeless; let childrent be injured or killed in a fire...but that's ok as long as rights of rodents are defended!

  14. print email
    February 12, 2013 | 08:43 PM

    Maggie, there is absolutely nothing wrong about making a condition of receiving federal tax dollars that these types of contest kills are prohibited. It's all of our money and we have every right to have a say in how that money is spent.

  15. print email
    Squirrel Slam
    February 12, 2013 | 11:15 PM

    You animal rights freaks really need to have your heads examined!!! How in one breath can you say we Holley residents are barbaric and unethical for killing squirrels and then in the next breath say you are going to kill our village officials for letting the squirrel slam continue? How does this make any sense?
    Anyone who has actually looked at the facts of this event knows that the Holley Fire Department is doing nothing illegal or unethical. The whole event is based on NYS DEC hunting laws of which there are bag laws, (6) per day. So the gibberish he was speaking about people killing all the squirrels they want is again a false statement.
    Senator, shame on you for basing your press conference on hear say from an animal rights group rather than facts. I am glad I am not from down state and that my Senators actually look at facts before running their mouths on stuff they have no clue about.

  16. print email
    February 13, 2013 | 10:20 AM

    Marisa, with all due respect, you may want to actually READ the contents of the Stafford Act. It has to do with emergency preparedness for natural disasters. It references pets and service animals, not ALL animals.

  17. print email
    Squirrel Slam - Saturday, February 16th.
    February 14, 2013 | 07:05 AM

    Nothing wrong with fund raisers ... but please pick a different way to do so. One that's cruelty free! There are so many other choices this community/Fire Department could have made.

    Robin Boynton
  18. print email
    February 14, 2013 | 10:40 AM

    Actually, the Holley FD has other fundraisers throughout the year! One being a chicken bbq. Shall we let you animal rights folks know when that'll be so you can wail about the "senseless slaughter" of the "defenseless" chickens?

  19. print email
    February 14, 2013 | 02:02 PM

    Margaret, I don't need your feigned respect. I never mentioned anything about the Stafford Act. I have read it, and I have read the petition. I was referring to non-disaster grants awarded to fire departments every year by FEMA. You might want to READ about that.

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