New York fire department's squirrel-shooting competition draws criticism from animal rights groups

HOLLEY, N.Y. - A New York fire department’s annual squirrel-shooting competition is drawing criticism from animal rights groups and politicians.

State Sen. Tony Avella, of Queens, and animal-rights activists are among those urging the Holley Fire Department to call off its annual "squirrel slam" fundraiser, scheduled for Saturday.

The Humane Society's New York director, Brian Shapiro, has written a letter suggesting the fire department west of Rochester find an alternate way to raise money.

Neither the fire department nor members of its board of directors have returned telephone and email messages from The Associated Press.

A flier on the department's website promoting the contest lists a youth category for those 14 years old or younger. It also promotes a gun raffle and cash prizes for the largest squirrel and for the heaviest group of five squirrels.