By Jim Krencik
Lockport Union-Sun & Journal
Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — HOLLEY — Everyone involved with the “Hazzard County Squirrel Slam” seems to have gotten what they wanted out of the event.
The Holley Fire Department, which puts on the annual squirrel-hunting derby as a much-needed fundraiser, saw a boom in interest from prideful local hunters Saturday.
Animal advocates, who charged that the event represented an indoctrination of children as young as 12 years old into a barbaric slaughter of the rodents, raised attention to their cause with a much publicized protest.
The magnification of the previously unnoticed event continues as locals and those from across the country weigh in. After a meeting of the committee overseeing a Brownfield Opportunities Area grant program Monday, Clerk-Treasurer Jane Murray’s desk had a stack of mail an inch-think. The village office’s dedicated “Squirrel Line” had eight new messages.
’Slam’ chairperson Tina Reed, whose phone number was posted on the event’s flier, said the calls and emails from those angered by the hunting event have continued to pile up.
”People haven’t given up,” Reed said Tuesday.
But the Slam’ raised twice as much as last year, when the event went largely unnoticed outside of the village. The funds from $10 tickets for the hunt, dinner and raffle will go towards the purchase of equipment. Reed noted it costs thousands of dollars to outfit a single firefighter.
”I’m very proud of our community for stepping forward ... they didn’t back down,” Reed said.
The animal rights supporters who came to Holley for a peaceful protest have received a barrage of coverage.
Friends of Animals President Priscilla Feral disputed the Associated Press’ estimate of the crowd’s size, tweeting that “50, not 30 protesters braved the ~elements~” in Holley Saturday.
Regardless of the total crowd size, the larger impact came from the half-dozen camera crews on hand to highlight the occasion, who amplified shouts of “Shame on Holley” far beyond the village’s Public Square.
A posting on Friends of Animals’s Facebook page said they will produce a film shot at the “squirrel-killing protest” on Saturday. The group’s aim is to stop animal-killing contests through legislation.
”We opposed and challenged what Holley is doing,” New York State Friends of Animals Director Edita Birnkrant said during the protest. “(The group) is getting attention to our message.”
During the protest one man was charged with second degree harassment. According to the Holley Police Department, Gregory Roth, 64, Hilton, was a pro-hunting protester at the demonstrations surrounding the Squirrel Slam. At 1:50 p.m. Roth began to throw items and make verbal threats of physical violence against the animal rights advocates who protested the event. Roth is scheduled to appear March 14 in Town of Murray Court.