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Holley Fire Department’s “Squirrel Slam” Makes Monsters of Heroes

Photo by Jeff Kubina

Photo by Jeff Kubina

HOLLEY, NEW YORK, IN THE NOT-TOO-DISTANT FUTURE – What began with firefighters in cities around the world labeling their counterparts in Holley, New York, “monsters” has led to the improbable reinvention of a once shamed and bloodstained village.

“Firefighters are supposed to be heroes,” one disgusted Seattle-based fireman told The Daily Maul in an e-mail. “We’re the men and women neighborhood kids look up to. We’re the compassionate civil servants who help get cats out of trees and pull dogs from freezing waterways. We’re the kindhearted folks who rescue animal companions from burning homes. We don’t turn into savages when we’re off duty.”

Controversy has surrounded the Holley Fire Department since its personnel started promoting an annual fundraising event called “Squirrel Slam,” an unconscionable squirrel-slaughtering competition whose prizes included cash and guns.

The Holley Fire Department, which is located in Orleans County, New York, expanded this year’s contest to include murderous 14-year-olds and those even younger.

“Encouraging savagery among younger generations is totally unacceptable,” an area parent named Lou Hobogden said. “And rewarding such barbarism with more killing tools is absolutely insane.”

In addition to cash prizes ranging from $50 to $200, the fire department gave away rifles to the contest’s most successful murderers. Squirrel-slaughter participants paid $10 each for the chance to kill for cash and guns.

Local public-school history teacher Moe Nosrung expressed concern about “cultivating bloodlust among the area’s students.”

“If today they’re murdering squirrels, tomorrow they’ll be killing other species and one another,” Nosrung said. “And they’ll be doing so with weapons we gave them.”

It was local high-school student Kip Tollings who made Holley an all-but unlivable place, and a village in which doing business was all-but impossible, for members of what he calls the “drooling class.”

In protest of this year’s “Squirrel Slam,” Tollings organized a simultaneous event in which animal advocates left acorns and wrote, in red chalk, “SS” (an abbreviation for “squirrel slaughterer”) on the doorsteps of Holley Fire Department personnel and “Squirrel Slam” participants.

“When I was in elementary school,” Tollings said, “a local fireman talked to my class about his job. It was like having a real-life superhero tell us that we could someday be just like him. And I wanted to, for a while – until I got older and thought about the fire department raising blood money to save and improve lives.”

In advance of his protest event, Tollings created a Facebook group called “Acorns for the SS,” whose membership soon included like-minded people from all over the world. An “Acorns for the SS” event page registered hundreds of committed attendees in just a few days, and those who couldn’t make the trip to Holley sent Tollings an estimated three million acorns. Among those who joined Tollings’ Facebook group were thousands of firefighters – some from as far away as New Zealand.

International media attention soon triggered a tipping point, and the otherwise unknown Village of Holley quickly became the epicenter of a global movement called “Occupy the Drooling Class,” which is dedicated – according to its Twitter profile – to creating “a vegan majority whose collective voice rails against those who seek spiritual and financial reward through the exploitation, torture, and murder of other species.”

“Historians, I believe, will someday refer to what’s going on here as the ‘Holley Enlightenment,’” Nosrung said. “The history of Holley will certainly not be kind to the drooling class.”

A spokesperson for the Orleans County Chamber of Commerce told The Daily Maul that “the movement, which is being driven by young people, has changed the culture of Holley. We’ve become the first all-vegan village in the United States. Holley no longer has a drooling class.”

The village’s schools, restaurants, businesses, and even its fire department, have all gone vegan, as have the town’s residents. And while members of the drooling class have relocated to more bloodlust-full communities, Holley’s population is expected to grow exponentially.

“Holley is going to become something of a vegan mecca,” the Orleans County Chamber of Commerce spokesperson said, proudly. “We expect to enjoy a booming economy that will be the envy of towns and cities everywhere.”

Tollings, who was recently elected mayor of Holley and serves as a volunteer firefighter, said he can’t imagine living anywhere else.

Nor can anyone else whose worldview was forever changed as a result of what Nosrung dubbed the “Holley Enlightenment.”

Support and participate in Friends of Animals’ efforts to stop “Squirrel Slam,” and urge local and state officials to do the same. Holley Fire Department personnel can be reached by telephone at (585) 638-6884. Holley’s mayor, John W. Kenney Jr., can be reached by telephone at (585) 638-6367 and by e-mail at The Orleans County Chamber of Commerce can be reached by telephone at (585) 589-7727. And New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo can be reached by telephone at (518) 474-8390.


  1. maria dale c wrote:

    well i am appalled that firemen can do this they are suppose to help and save not learn to kill especialy defenceless animal’s well i think all these firemen are ajoke x

    Monday, February 11, 2013 at 4:04 pm | Permalink
  2. susie wrote:

    This is outrageous!!killing innocent animals!and firefighters that are supposed to saves lives!Stop the killing contest!Shame on you!

    Monday, February 11, 2013 at 4:17 pm | Permalink
  3. sharon scott wrote:

    This has to be one of the most apalling things I’ve ever seen! I have a pet squirrel who is the light of my life. Yes, the ones in the wild aren’t the same, as they are WILD, but this uncalled for massacre is shameful, disgusting and pathetic. Do something to get this stopped. I used to have respect for, not so much.

    Monday, February 11, 2013 at 4:24 pm | Permalink
  4. Squirrelly Article wrote:

    I don’t get this article … The thought process in explaining this ‘SS Event’ is clunky and there’s really no information worth sharing w/friends that are firefighters or anti-animal exploitation. I hate the idea of slaughtering squirrels for a fund raising event for the fire dept. period.

    Monday, February 11, 2013 at 4:37 pm | Permalink
  5. SANDY DOLLARD wrote:

    Barbaric morons. Men always wanting to lord over anything weaker than them. Humans will never learn to comune with nature as long as we allow this to continue. I can’t believe the city/state allows this! It’s no different than seal clubing!

    Monday, February 11, 2013 at 4:46 pm | Permalink
  6. Carrie Best wrote:

    Can this get any sicker??? Giving guns as prizes while teaching cruelty to animals? Serial killers in the making here. Who are we supposed to call now when we need help?

    Monday, February 11, 2013 at 5:09 pm | Permalink
  7. Katherine Shepherd wrote:

    This is shameful. We need to have compassion for all animals. The Holley Fire Department needs to set a positive example for it’s citizens, especially children. The unnecessary killing of innocent animals is not the way to do it. This is wrong. I hope they stop this so-called contest!

    Monday, February 11, 2013 at 5:11 pm | Permalink
  8. robin mccaffry wrote:

    yup….pretty barbaric…those fireman aren’t heroes…i hope the citizens of this red neck town dont look up to them….what a terrible place to raise children. when one of those kids storms his school and murders his classmates and teachers with the gun he “won”…is anyone going to be surprised??????

    Monday, February 11, 2013 at 7:24 pm | Permalink
  9. stephanie beaton wrote:

    This event needs to be stopped they are killing innocent squirrels that did no harm to anyone and the ones who dont die will have to suffer a long painful death that is so sick. They are not doing it for the money either because someone from california said they would pay them the amount of money that would be raised for the event & they still said no on top of that they are teaching young kids its ok to use guns and kill innocent animals first they start killing animals by the time they are 16 they will be shooting people and the guns raffels are the kind that were used in the connenticut elementary shooting thats so fucked up so many innocent children died not so long ago that was a horrific thing that happened imagine if you were one of the parents who child died and then find out that the guns being raffeled was the same kind that killed their child now that is really sick they must not have a heart at all or care about any of those young children that lost their lives that day.

    Monday, February 11, 2013 at 11:19 pm | Permalink
  10. Tikipoo wrote:

    We are proud to live in an era of love & caring for our earth. Let the children learn to respect & enjoy the nature around them. Teach them about gardening, teach them about birds & wildlife, most of all to love themselves. Not to kill for pleasure. I am a much loved unreleasable house squirrel. I thank my wonderful family for saving my life & in return, fill their days with love, affection, & laughter. There are no “tree rats!” Sincerely, Tikipoo

    Tuesday, February 12, 2013 at 12:45 am | Permalink
  11. From heroes to villains, how disgusting this is to think that these grown men who have dedicated their lives to protecting and saving lives would embark on such a shameful & cruel path. And how can those in power allow such a thing to happen !? Shame on each and every one of them !

    Tuesday, February 12, 2013 at 7:14 am | Permalink
  12. Richard Hurtz wrote:

    I think the contest is fine. Squirrells are little more that tree rats, and their population needs to be controlled

    Tuesday, February 12, 2013 at 8:01 am | Permalink
  13. Kathy wrote:

    Mr. Brensilver is living in another universe…or perhaps he is another resident of that enlightened city of New York. There is no mention of who the contact person is from the chamber of commerce. Perhaps the person is afraid to give their name. The LAST THING that Holley will ever be is vegan. This whole thing is a farce to further scare the good people of Holley to stop the event and it won’t work. Give it up folks. Two weeks from now you will be on to the squirrel slam event coming up in another state as they are in many states around the country. At least this time you will have more time to plan as the next one isn’t until September.

    Tuesday, February 12, 2013 at 8:23 am | Permalink
  14. Kathy wrote:

    In case you would like to know the real David Brensilver you might check out
    It is curious that he likes to celebrate animal-on-human attacks. It sounds like he should raise pit bulls to get a feel for exactly what that is like. He could let them run free in his new neighborhood and see how many children those cute little animals attack. Then he could take a picture of the attack and publish it along with his other great works.

    Tuesday, February 12, 2013 at 8:32 am | Permalink
  15. Don Parnell wrote:

    Kathy, you are just too ignorant to even waste time on. Just know you are the epitome of the “drooling class” referred to in the story. Off to kiss my pit bull, who has killed zero children, squirrels, or fire fighters.

    Tuesday, February 12, 2013 at 5:52 pm | Permalink
  16. Don Parnell wrote:

    David, I don’t know if you saw this but it’s disgusting:

    Tuesday, February 12, 2013 at 5:55 pm | Permalink
  17. Dr. Mary T. wrote:

    I have spent years researching volunteer fire departments and always found the members to be respectful of living creatures. It is very disappointing to see a volunteer fire company encouraging violence in any form.

    Wednesday, February 13, 2013 at 2:08 am | Permalink
  18. Deanna Adams wrote:

    The slaughtering of squirrels to fund-raise is disconcerting and provocative. And what is most disturbing are children involved in pulling the trigger killing to fund-raise. The pleasure is in the kill, the thrill and the torture. Furthermore; the catch is the prize, a win for the Holley Fire Department. The act of killing desensitizes and true emotion evolves into cruelty. And when cruelty is engaged then one becomes a slave to society. What happens to the senses when someone experiences the sight, sound, smell, and touch before and after the kill? In the modern world, we are desensitized and lost connection with our senses. And do we really understand the word, “feeling,” not emotionalism, not thrills, nor excitement, but the quality of perception, the quality of hearing, listening, and feeling. When was the last time we heard a bird sing and the rustle of a leaf? And how do we feel when we glimpse at the studded-gold-rays of the Sun. Equally important, how do we perceive a squirrel, his dance, his wit, his swiftness, and thick coat and stretched-out tail? And to feel deeply, penetratingly to see the beauty is very difficult for most of us because we have lost the capacity to be truly human. The state of ectasy and joy cannot be experienced unless we put aside the pleasures of the world. And during the squirrel-slam watch every thought, feeling, and emotion when you hold the gun and touch the trigger. And look very deep at the dancing squirrels and everything that nature has created. Can you pull the trigger and take a life that you have not designed and created in the utmost beauty? Holley Fire Department would do well to set an example and offer an alternative to fund-raise. I propose to draw landscapes of the squirrel habitat. In addition, write songs about squirrels, sketch squirrels, and sway like a squirrel. And equally important, the engagement not be in the kill but in celebrating life and embrace the squirrel as our own. The Holley Fire Department can set an example of good stewardship and become a friend of animals. The investment of befriending is great because of the insight into sensitivity and that all life has value. This will mitigate future violence and people who are in tune rarely engage in crime.

    Thursday, February 14, 2013 at 10:32 pm | Permalink
  19. Susan wrote:

    As this squirrel slam unfolds today,
    let’s put the same energy we all put on trying to stop it, on advocating for a state wide ban on such hunting contests
    and prizes, especially where kids are concerned.
    Holley is a hotbed of ignorance.
    I hope we can all keep moving ahead and
    at least put this sad day to future termination of their bloody festivities.

    Saturday, February 16, 2013 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

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