Updated: 02/22/2014 8:44 PM
Created: 02/22/2014 10:58 AM WHEC.com
The annual hunting contest that has drawn criticism from animal rights activists was underway on Saturday.
Hunters were out in Holley to take part in the 8th annual Squirrel Slam. The Squirrel Slam is a hunting contest that awards prizes for hunters who bring in the heaviest squirrels.
Members of the Animal Rights Advocates of Upstate New York and Friends of Animals protested the event Saturday afternoon. Those activists say the event "glorifies the slaughter of innocent animals." They also have expressed displeasure that hunters as young as 12-years-old are allowed to participate in the hunt, claiming it teaches violent behavior to young adults.
But participants and supporters say squirrel hunting is allowed in New York State and the event serves as a great fundraiser for the Holley Fire Department. Last year, the Squirrel Slam broke an event record with more than a 1,000 hunters taking part. It was also the first year that activists protested the hunt.
"I think it's a really destructive thing, especially for a fire department, to create an event where children and adults are rewarded for killing mass amounts of squirrels,” said Edita Birnkrant, Friends of Animals group.
“Nothing we're doing here is illegal. Everything is within legal standards. We would never break the law for that. There's a reason we have those laws,” said resident Laura Kendall.
The event is sponsored by the Holley Fire Department and the money raised supports the town's volunteer fire operations.