GERMANTOWN — Germantown Sportsmen’s Association held its seventh annual Squirrel Scramble on Saturday.
The annual squirrel hunting event was held amid some outcry from the New York state Humane Association.
A spokesperson for the Germantown Sportsmen’s Association said Saturday’s event was a success despite the cold weather and snow.
“After a lot of anxiety over what may or may not have occurred, it went very well,” the spokesperson said.
He said the event typically has around 20 teams sign up, but this year he said about 60 teams participated. The attention and the publicity surrounding the event this year brought more teams than usual to participate, but many more people came out to offer support for the activity and the Sportsmen’s Association
In early February, the Humane Association sent a letter to the Germantown Sportsmen’s Association asking it to cancel the event, citing it as “part of a pattern of wildlife killing contests around the country.” The letter caught the attention of several major news outlets. A change.org petition calling for cancellation of the event received more than 26,000 signatures.
The Association spokesman said the organization, along with some of its members, received threatening phone calls and emails from people who wanted the event canceled. He said to his knowledge the threats stopped after the event.
“Some of them were very inappropriate, and maybe even illegal,” the spokesman said. “And we’re still talking with law enforcement about those.”
He said the Sportsmen’s Association plans to continue holding the Squirrel Scramble again next year as long as it remains legal to do so.
The spokesman said there were about seven or eight protesters Saturday who held up signs near the sportsmen’s clubhouse.
“They were very civil, appropriate, they stood on the side of the road opposite of the clubhouse and there were no incidents or no issues,” the spokesman said. “They were polite. We understand their feelings, and they are certainly entitled to them, but we feel we are entitled to our traditions also.”
The poor weather Saturday led to a smaller-than-normal number of squirrels.
“The ironic part is, as hunters know, you spend a lot of time in the woods,” the spokesperson said. “And most of the time you don’t really see game or you don’t really see game that is legal to shoot or you think is appropriate, and it was a terrible day. It was snowing first thing in the morning, where we had almost a whiteout, over an inch of snow. Then in the middle part of the day it was raining and drizzly. Even squirrels don’t like to go out in that weather, but the sun did come out towards the end of the day.”
An ipetition.com petition started last weekend in support Germantown Sportsmen’s Association. It has received 341 signatures.
The spokesman said the Sportsmen’s Association had nothing to do with this petition. He said it appreciated that someone felt that way, but that it is a little concerning because these types of petitions can sometimes ask people who sign them for funds.
“None of those funds go to the organization they are trying to support,” the spokesman said. “They just go to paying for the petition.”
The spokesperson said this year the winning team had 11 grey squirrels and two red squirrels.
“Most of the participants kept their harvest,” the spokesman said. “But there were a few squirrels that were left for us to harvest. And they actually went to local families that need food. We had hoped we would have a bigger harvest so that we could also donate to the wildlife rehabilitators, but they weren’t available this year because of limited harvest.”