The real losers on Saturday were the sacks full of dead squirrels in the small upstate Orleans County, New York community where the Holley Fire Department hosted their 7th annual "Hazzard County Squirrel Slam." One thousand tickets were sold at $10 each which entitled hunters to shoot those menacing little squirrels hiding in trees who surely must have been found guilty of raising havoc stealing too many fallen acorns.
According to the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, Holley Police Chief William Murphy stated the FBI was investigating death threats against some of the townspeople and fire department officials. Over 40,000 people signed petitions demanding the squirrel massacre be canceled, however hunters arrived early Saturday morning with their rifles in hand.
About 100 protestors showed up to peacefully demonstrate. According to a Facebook reporting of the event, some abusive and threatening remarks allegedly followed. One Facebook poster stated:
"After cars covered with dead squirrels drove by, other hunters arrived with children, carrying bags of dead squirrels. Some held them in their hands and waved them around the protesters -- walking through the protesters while cheering... Some hunters were drunk and mocked the protesters, assailing liberals. And another was dressed in a skunk costume and did hip hop."
So why did squirrel hunting massacres for the past six years go unnoticed? Perhaps social media has made people much more sensitive to the plight of animal cruelty. Perhaps more people are offended by this year's participation offering children as young as 12 years-old being allowed to compete for cash prizes in the killing of defenseless animals for sport? Even more troubling this year however, could have been the notion of raffling off guns and rifles after the most heinous crime against young children in the United States occurred so recently in Newtown.
Animal rights groups called the squirrel slam a "sadistic form of entertainment." Edita Birnkrant, director of the Friends of Animals who attended the event contends the event is "teaching children gun violence."
Some local people and hunters of Holley used Twitter to tell the rest of the world to leave them alone. Cathy Williams of New York City stated it was sad that the squirrels weren't able to tweet the same message.
No one from the Holley Fire Department would comment on today's event.
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