Senseless, Defenseless Squirrel Slaughter In Holley, New York

“Wild animals never kill for sport. Man is the only one to whom the torture and death of his fellow creatures is amusing in itself.”
(James Anthony Froude)

 They walk amongst us.  The misguided, the anthropocentric, the insufferably insecure and therefore immeasurably cruel.  But while one of the last places one would expect to find them is in a firehouse, it has come to light that just such evil lurks inside the fire hall in Holley, New York; a tiny village located west of Rochester, not far from the cold winds and waters of Lake Ontario whose apparent pasttime during these long winter months is inbreeding.

On February 16th, these so-called lifesavers are holding a fundraiser in which the goal is to head out into the winter woods and blast as many squirrels as possible out of existence.  Ticket purchasers may enter as many as five squirrels for the weigh-in at the end of the day and there are prizes for the most weight murdered, as well as other drawings, including raffling off some pretty nice guns.  Not only is this slaughter needless and senseless, all of it disturbingly includes and encourages participation by children.

An enormous outcry is now taking shape.  There is a page on Facebook against it and a petition at  The following is my own letter to the mayor of Holley, a copy of which is also going to both the governor and head of wildlife of the state of New York.

Mayor John W. Kenney Jr.
Village of Holley
72 Public Sq
Holley, NY 14470

Dear Mayor Kenney,

I write you today as a concerned citizen.  Not of Holley, New York but simply of the United States, a country that currently finds itself in the midst of an extremely divisive political climate in which our very foundation finds itself under attack.

It is no secret that I am a Constitutional conservative and support the 2nd Amendment as it is intended.  But this also means I am pro-life.  That means ALL life and when I was notified that your local fire department hosts a fundraiser that sends children out with guns to slaughter squirrels, well, frankly, I couldn’t quite get my head around how that puts any “fun” in “fundraiser”.  As a state-permitted wildlife rehabilitator who specializes in tree squirrels, while my job is saving the lives of orphaned, abandoned and injured wildlife, I also understand the need for and the role of wildlife management and have reconciled with hunting both for that purpose and for sustenance when these activities are performed cleanly and humanely.  As both a wildlife rehabilitator and president of our state wildlife rehabilitation organization I work closely with my own state’s Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Division, as well with as our Natural Resources Commission so therefore I am familiar with the delicateness often required to balance conflicting interests.  In my inner circle I count a former California Fish & Wildlife USDA large predator nuisance control expert, as well as a former City of Detroit firefighter now working down in North Carolina.

It is from this perspective that I must state this fire department fundraiser is simply wrong – on multiple levels.

First of all, your own state laws clearly state that “Minors under the age of 12 may not obtain a hunting license or hunt wildlife.”  Yet the Holley Fire Department is including a “14 years and under” category.  While your state laws do provide for children ages 12-15 to hunt (only) small game, there are multiple requirements:

 •Youth must have completed a course in Hunter Education.

•Youth must have a Junior Hunting license.

•12-13 year old youth must be accompanied by a parent, legal guardian, or a person who is 21 years or older and is designated in writing on the Mentored Youth Hunter and Trapper Permission Form (PDF) (24 KB). Adult mentor must have a license to hunt small game.

•14-15 year old youth must be accompanied by a parent, legal guardian, or a person who is 18 years or older and is designated in writing on the Mentored Youth Hunter and Trapper Permission Form (PDF) (24 KB). Adult mentor must have a license to hunt small game.

Exactly how are these requirements being met for the fundraiser?  A mere disclaimer on the website saying “All NYS hunting and licensing rules are to be followed” means nothing without enforcement.  How are you to determine if the so-called “winner” is a legal winner?  Frankly, you can’t.

Second, the current political foray attempting to curb our Second Amendment right has been spurred on by so-called mass murders committed by what are essentially children.  Please take a good look at this sad list:

    • Eric Harris (17), first on Zoloft then Luvox, and Dylan Klebold (18) killed 12 students and 1 teacher, and wounded 23 others, before killing themselves during the Columbine school shooting in Littleton, Colorado. (Klebold’s medical records have never been made available to the public.)
    • Jeff Weise (16) had been prescribed 60 mg/day of Prozac (three times the average starting dose for adults) when he shot his grandfather, his grandfather’s girlfriend and many fellow students at Red Lake, Minnesota. He then shot himself. Ten dead, 12 wounded.
    • Cory Baadsgaard (16) Wahluke High School, Washington, was on Paxil (which caused him to have hallucinations) when he took a rifle to his high school and held 23 classmates hostage. He has no memory of the event.
    • Chris Fetters (13) killed his favorite aunt while taking Prozac.
    • Christopher Pittman (12) murdered both his grandparents while taking Zoloft.
      Mathew Miller (13) hung himself in his bedroom closet after taking Zoloft for 6 days.
    • Kip Kinkel (15), on Prozac and Ritalin, shot his parents while they slept then went to school and opened fire killing 2 classmates and injuring 22 shortly after beginning Prozac treatment.
    • Luke Woodham (16), on Prozac, killed his mother and then killed two students, wounding six others.
    • A boy in Pocatello, Idaho had a Zoloft-induced seizure in 1998 that caused an armed standoff at his school.
    • Michael Carneal (14), on Ritalin, opened fire on students at a high school prayer meeting in West Paducah, Kentucky. Three teenagers were killed, 5 others were wounded.
    • A young man in Huntsville, Alabama went psychotic while on Ritalin, chopping up his parents with an ax and also killing one sibling and almost murdering another.
    • Andrew Golden (11), and Mitchell Johnson (14), both on Ritalin, shot 15 people, killing 4 students, 1 teacher, and wounding 10 others.
    • TJ Solomon, (15), a high school student in Conyers, Georgia on Ritalin, opened fire on and wounded 6 of his class mates.
    • Rod Mathews (14) beat a classmate to death with a bat while on Ritalin.
    • James Wilson (19), from Breenwood, South Carolina, on various psychiatric drugs, took a .22 caliber revolver into an elementary school killing 2 young girls, and wounding 7 other children and 2 teachers.
    • Elizabeth Bush (13) was responsible for a school shooting in Williamsport, Pennsylvania in 2001 while on Paxil.
    • Jason Hoffman (18), taking Effexor and Celexa, was responsible for a school shooting in 2001 that injured 5 people in El Cajon, California.
    • Jarred Viktor (15), after five days on Paxil he stabbed his grandmother 61 times.
      Chris Shanahan (15) while on Paxil, walked up and shot a woman in the back of the head with his rifle during a robbery attempt in Rigby, Idaho, killing her.
    • Jeff Franklin (17), taking Prozac, Ritalin and Klonopin, killed his parents in Huntsville, Alabama in 1998 as they came home from work using a sledge hammer, hatchet, butcher knife and mechanic’s file; he then attacked his 6-year old and 9-year old brothers and 12-year old sister and left them to bleed to death.
    • Kevin Rider (14), was withdrawing from Prozac when he died from a gunshot wound to his head. Initially it was ruled a suicide, but two years later, the investigation into his death was opened as a possible homicide. The prime suspect, also age 14, had been taking Zoloft and other SSRI antidepressants.
    • Alex Kim (13) hung himself shortly after his Lexapro prescription had been doubled.
    • Billy Willkomm, an accomplished wrestler and a University of Florida student, was prescribed Prozac at the age of 17. His family found him dead of suicide – hanging from a tall ladder at the family’s Gulf Shore Boulevard home in July 2002.
    • Kara Jaye Anne Fuller-Otter (12) was on Paxil when she hung herself from a hook in her closet. Kara’s parents said “…. the damn doctor wouldn’t take her off it and I asked him to when we went in on the second visit. I told him I thought she was having some sort of reaction to Paxil….”
    • Gareth Christian, Vancouver (18) was on Paxil when he committed suicide in 2002.  His father could not accept his son’s death and later killed himself.
    • Julie Woodward (17) was on Zoloft when she hung herself in her family’s detached garage.
    • Matthew Miller was 13 when he saw a psychiatrist because he was having difficulty at school. The psychiatrist gave him samples of Zoloft. Seven days later his mother found him dead, hanging by a belt from a laundry hook in his closet.
    • Kurt Danysh (18) killed his father with a shotgun while on Prozac. He is now behind prison bars, and writes letters, trying to warn the world that SSRI drugs can kill.
    • Hammad Memon (15) shot and killed another student at Discovery Middle School in Huntsville, Alabama in 2010.  He had been diagnosed with ADHD and depression and was taking Zoloft and “other drugs for the conditions.”
    • Matti Saari, a 22-year-old culinary student, shot and killed 9 students and a teacher, and wounded another student in 2008 before killing himself. Saari was taking an SSRI and a benzodiazapine.
    • Steven Kazmierczak (27) shot and killed five people and wounded 21 others before killing himself in a Northern Illinois University auditorium. According to his girlfriend, he had recently been taking Prozac, Xanax and Ambien. Toxicology results showed that he still had trace amounts of Xanax in his system.
    • Finnish gunman Pekka-Eric Auvinen (18) had been taking antidepressants before he killed eight people and wounded a dozen more at Jokela High School – then he committed suicide.
    • Asa Coon from Cleveland (14) shot and wounded four before taking his own life. Court records show Coon was on Trazodone.
    • Jon Romano (16) on medication for depression, fired a shotgun in Columbia High School, East Greenbush, New York in 2004, wounding a teacher.
    • Adam Peter Lanza (20), killed 26 and wounded 2 in Newtown Connecticut; allegedly autisitic, no records of medication have yet been released.

This is horrible, incomplete yet still much too long.  Now ask yourself this:  exactly how many of the children being taken out to indiscriminately slaughter another sentient creature simply for the sake of so-called “sport” in the guise of a fundraiser are taking some kind of psychotropic drug (or drugs)?  Truth is you have no way to know this due to medical privacy laws.  Then ask yourself how many of them are allowed to spend a large part of their time playing violent video games, too?  Again, you can have no idea.  The only honest answer is that another Sandy Hook incident is merely a matter of when, not if – and it is being actively encouraged by your fire department’s fundraiser.

Last but certainly not least, there are those oft-inconvenient moral implications.  Whether you believe in God, Buddha, Mohammed, plain old garden-variety karma or the Great Pumpkin, premeditated, deliberate cruelty is never condoned.  If we are to be truly considered “enlightened” as a species, it behooves us to teach our children by our words and most importantly by our deeds that life is sacred and is never to be taken without very good reason.  Certainly those first responders in the Holley or any other fire department believe this and they walk the talk every time the alarm sounds.  How many photos have been circulated about a brave, kind firefighter carrying someone’s beloved animal out of a burning building?  Such is the “picture worth a thousand words” of selfless compassion and mercy.  Why then – and how then – can those who willingly risk their lives to save lives even consider, let alone condone, plan and actively encourage the needless, senseless taking of lives that is your so-called “Squirrel Slam”?

For those of us most familiar with those furry denizens of the trees, it is not merely a matter of the taking of a few squirrel lives that causes our disgust and outcry but the exponential amount of suffering that inevitably follows.  Of all the mammals, the squirrel is an amazing survivor and, notwithstanding countless bad shots that send a wounded squirrel off to suffer and eventually die a slow, painful death from infection, every single nursing mother coldly blasted into the fur-filled hereafter leaves behind babies who will, unlike their helpless human infant counterparts, do whatever they can to find her.  If they do not succumb to the cold and exhaustion from calling for their mother, even naked, blind and deaf neonates will make their way out of their nest in order to seek out their life-giver.  Inevitably they fall and the lucky ones end up in hands like mine that become their foster mother and provide them with a second chance to live as Nature intended.  The unlucky are killed by predators but the most unlucky of all die an excruciating death from exposure – starvation, dehydration and hypothermia – with each second of their final moments filled with fear.

If you would not throw your own child down a well in the middle of winter and walk away to let them die a slow, painful death; if you would not throw your cat or dog down a well in the middle of winter and walk away to let them die a slow, painful death, then why in the world would you set out to cause essentially the same horror to any other living creature?

If your answer is you simply did not know or understand, you may be forgiven.  But with knowledge comes responsibility, so I am asking that you please shut down this fundraiser.  There are many other ways in which to raise money; there are a myriad of things to do to raise money that will also teach children a proper respect for life and the responsible use of firearms.

Thank you,
PJ. Garner

CC:  NY Governor Andrew Cuomo
NY DEC Commissioner Joseph Martens










  1. says

    I come from upstate New York and began learning about the beauty of nature in Rochester’s Highland Park. At a camp on Lake Ontario I shared 12 idyllic summers with deer, squirrel and unforgettable uncatchable (didn’t have a gun) chipmunks. No doubt this cherished interaction with wildlife informed my later decision to become a licensed wildlife rehabilitator with the department of fish and game in the state where I now reside.
    Of course I signed the petition against the ill considered Holley Innocent Squirrel Slaughter. This would be a deplorable proposal from any origin but coming from my home turf it’s particularly bitter. I’ve alerted all the Fairport, Pittsford, Palmyra and Brighton friends and relatives to add their support to the local protests .

    • Livein Orleans says

      First off I live in Orleans county and work in Holley, NY. This is not a senseless slaughter of squirrels. This event has taken place for more than 7 years. The volunteer Holley Fire dept. took over financially 7 years ago. We hunt, fish, and raise our own food in Holley. The children 12+ years are licensed hunters who go out with family member to hunt. They take gun safety courses and come from families who hunt for food. We eat all the squirrels that are killed, nothing goes to waste even the tails are made in lures for fly fishing. I truly wish the self appointed would get their facts straight before you condemn something you know nothing about. And if you truly want to “help” as you so rightly point out, send a donation to the Holley Fire Dept. We currently need three fire suits ($7500.00), a new rescue vehicle is needed. Yes, we save lives in Holley. Rescue vehicles run over 100K. Do not tell us to have a bake food sale, it’s illegal to sell bake foods in NYS without being made in a commericial kitchen… so much for grandmas homemade pies. So all of you, get a life and leave the residents of Holley alone.

      • PJ. Garner says

        So apparently if all your friends jump over the side of the cliff you’ll go along with them, eh? Just because we can has never and will never be an excuse to do something that is morally and ethically wrong.

        I and many others would gladly send a donation to the Holley Fire Department if they would stop teaching children it’s ok to go out and slaughter sentient beings for sport. No matter what spin you try to put on it there isn’t anything the least bit noble about the “Squirrel Slam” and my points remain. You have absolutely no way of knowing who actually murders any of the squirrels turned in at the end of the day and you have no way of knowing just how many of the children out shooting are on psychotropic drugs and therefore at risk and creating potential risk for others. The only guarantee is the totally unnecessary and exponential amount of fear and suffering being created deliberately.

        The hypocrisy here is outstanding and only reinforced by the fact that you choose to come here to scold but don’t have the decency to sign your name, Jane Murray, Clerk Treasurer at Village of Holley.

        • Olga says

          Thank you for the letter! This is unconscionable!!! Who came up with this idea and why? If they refuse to take the money in place of organized murder than it’s not about raising money, it’s about promoting cruelty and this is got to stop immediately!

      • Olga says

        You eat 1500 squirrels at your fire house, really? “Sporting” finches yet? How many of those will it take, till you kill every one of them in a 50 mile radius? Nobody who really prides themselves on saving lives would ever run a contest taking them. By the way, what is your kill to save ratio? Is divided by zero? If people offered you money to stop the massacre and you turned it down then you love taking lives far more than you care to save them. Formula for ultimate hypocrisy! Sorry, not leaving you or your blood thirsty buddies alone till you stop!

  2. Sherry S says

    Great letter — let us hope that it penetrates the heart and mind of the mayor and he stops this hideously sickening event. Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein wrote a wonderfully wise song “You have to be carefully taught” — it’s about hate and cruelty and the fact that children have to be taught those things and the ulgy lesson of disrespect for living creatures being taught by this event is unmistakable.

  3. Micah Stiffler says

    When the hunt goes on there is no nursing squirrels. Therefore no poor baby squirrels end up on the ground “as nature should have it.” Second the only baby squirrels that you find are squirrels that their parents died from NATURAL causes. Also because of development of houses, I assume you live in a house squirrels have less and less habitat. I know you see them in your backyard but trust me there was a lot of squirrels where your house used to be. Oh and all the wood in your house. You paid people to go cut down the trees that they live in with no regard to the squirrels nests, and that is done when they may have babies. So next time you find a baby squirrel, don’t blame hunters, you have no one to blame except anyone who has wood somewhere in their house or mother nature. One more thing mother nature is cruel. More animals die long starving deaths every year because of lack of food than anything else, including hunters. My last note, squirrel moms kick their babies out around 12 weeks after they are born, so don’t compare humans to squirrels because you don’t kick you baby out of the house at 3 months old.

    • PJ. Garner says

      While your point about habitat destruction is true, you obviously have not studied the natural history of Sciuridae and therefore are clueless about their reproductive habits. I strongly suggest some time spent studying before you try to lambast someone again (a course in remedial English wouldn’t hurt, either).

  4. Suzie Saliga says

    LiveinOrleans, Let me start out by saying you’re obviously ashamed of what you’re supporting or you wouldn’t use an alias to hide your name. Playing the hunting and gun ownership card doesn’t work with me. I understand hunting being a viable alternative to cruel factory farming. I am not anti hunting and I am not anti gun ownership. Let’s get that straight from the get go. On rare occasions I do eat meat that is free range. People in favor of “the slam” (even the label is an insult to hunters!) try to steer attention away from the real issue here by claiming we’re anti hunting and are going to take your blessed guns away. The point is that ethical hunters do not do a fund raiser just for the “fun” of it, and include children as participants. THAT is the issue here. This event is promoted as a contest…a game that includes kids. The fact that a Fire Department is supporting this event is despicable and an insult to the profession. A responsible parent teaches their kids to research other ways to raise money and to use their creativity. I’ve worked for many organizations…small and large and they don’t put guns in the hands of kids to raise a large sum of money. I will agree with a couple of points that you made. A bake sale isn’t going to raise enough money. And developers and tree cutting does unfortunately orphan not only squirrels but other wildlife as well. We can’t do a whole heck of a lot about that. But you can do something about this contest. So find out how other organizations raise funds. Can you answer this: What do other small organizations do to raise a large sum of money? Do they need to have a “slaughter”? If killing is the best method that you can come up with, you haven’t done your research. And no Micah, mothers do not merely kick their babies out at 12 weeks (by the way, at 12 weeks the juveniles are still weaning and dependent on the mother for adequate nutrition). As a rehabber I am well aware that squirrel juveniles are still weaning at 12 weeks and stay with the mother after they leave the nest in order to learn survival skills.

  5. Notta Liberal-Whiner says

    “So God blessed Noah and his sons, and said to them: ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth. And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be on every beast of the earth, on every bird of the air, on all that move on the earth, and on all the fish of the sea. They are given into your hand. Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. I have given you all things, even as the green herbs’.”
    – Genesis 9:1-3 NKJV

    Given that the final, authoritative word on this subject has now been posted, this should end any further discussion of this matter.

    • PJ. Garner says

      Wrong, THIS was the last word: “Whatsoever you have done to these the least of My brethren you have done unto Me.”


      “For every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills. I know all the fowls of the mountains: and the wild beasts of the field are mine.” Psalm 50: 10-11

      “And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree in the which is the fruit of the tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat.” Genesis 1:29

      “And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb FOR MEAT: and it was so.” Genesis 1:30

      “Flesh shall ye not eat.” Genesis 9: 4-5

      “I will make for you that day a covenant with the wild animals. I will abolish the bow, the sword, and war from the land. I will make you lie down in safety.” Hosea 2:28

      “Though they offer choice sacrifices, though they eat flesh, the Lord does not accept them. Now he will remember their iniquity, and punish their sins …” Hosea 8:13

      “Whoever slaughters an ox is like one who kills a human being; whoever sacrifices a lamb, like one who breaks a dog’s neck; whoever presents a grain offering, like one who offers swine’s blood; whoever makes a memorial offering of frankincense, like one who blesses an idol. They have chosen their own ways and in their abominations they take delight.”
      Isaiah 66:3

      “If I were hungry, I would not tell you, for the world and all that is in it is mine. Do I eat the flesh of bulls, or drink the blood of goats?”
      Psalm 50:12-13

      “A righteous man regards the life of his animal, But the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel.” Proverbs 12:10

      “Be not among the winebibbers nor the riotous eaters of animal flesh.” Proverbs 20: 23

      “I came to end the animal sacrifices, and if you do not stop making sacrifices, the wrath of God (the law of cause and effect) will not leave you alone.” Jesus, cited from Epiphanius, Panarion 3:16