Squirrels are at the center of a big controversy in Holley, in Orleans County. A squirrel hunt fundraiser benefiting the village fire department has people across the nation up in arms.The issue has struck a chord with those on both sides of two hot button issues, gun control and animal rights.
The typically sleepy village of Holley is anything but these days.
At the center of all the noise...squirrels. For the seventh year in a row, the Holley Fire Department held its "Squirrel Slam" fundraiser.
"Yes, I'm all for it. It's uh, it's a way of life out here, ya know?" Holley resident Kenneth Swanger added, "That's the way we live."
Hunters as young as twelve years old can enter up to five squirrels for weighing. The biggest wins the prize.
But not everyone thinks the fundraiser is a good idea.
"It is wrong. I'm against the gun laws. They shouldn't have a gun until they are at least 21 or so," said resident Al Share. "When they are well in their mind about what they should do and shouldn't do. I think they're wrong."
Holley fire officials would not say how much they even raise from the Squirrel Slam and whether or not they'll consider a different fundraiser next year.
"Everybody has their freedom of speech. And have their own opinions and that's what our country and government is founded on," said Pete Hendrickson, Holley Fire Chief.
You didn't have to be in Holley to hear of the Squirrel Slam or the controversy surrounding it. Online petitions and opinions circulated quickly.
Despite the protests, the hunt went on, and so does the debate.