By Kath Rogers
Sent by Brian Pease

“Bring your guns and a trash bag” were the instructions from resident organizers in rural Auburn, New York in anticipation of an event they called their “annual crow shooting contest.” The event organizers planned the contest for the weekend of February 1st, and recruited hunters from the surrounding areas from local “bird watching” and “sport hunting” lists. The organizers jokingly admitted in advertisements for the event that the hunt was “just for fun!” despite their own attempts to legitimize the contest by claiming a goal of “crow population control,” which, as wildlife advocates explained to Auburn residents, is the opposite effect such an event would have on the crow population in the long term. In reality, when hunters temporarily lower the number of animals in a certain population, it decreases competition for food which has the effect of inversely raising procreation levels. The increased procreation levels result in more offspring and a higher overall population the following season. The organizers faced vehement opposition to the event, which was scheduled to eradicate as many crows as possible, collect the dead birds in trash bags and count the bodies at local sports bars, where awards would be given to those with the most.

KS-Redwing blackbirds have a peace fight for people and crows.
Photo by Suzi Dobbelaere

The weeks leading up to the event gained the attention of national animal rights groups, activists and Auburn citizens alike. The mayor of Auburn and other local officials posted their public opposition to the contest on the Auburn county official website, which had a full page condemning the event. Animal advocacy groups such as the Fund for Animals, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and the Humane Society of the United States tried without success to have the event cancelled through attempts to impose restraining orders on the hunters and withdraw local support from the contest. As the event drew nearer, Auburn residents, horrified by the proposed massacre in their town, collaborated with animal rights activists to do whatever necessary to stop the brutal event.

Protestors held signs with messages such as “Shoot Pool, Not Crows” and “Live and Let Live: Stop the Slaughter.” When groups of activists found the hunting sites, they began leading the crows to safety with the “danger calls” to warn the birds of peril and other loud devices to frighten them from the areas. They were met with defensive hostility from hunters, who had four activists arrested on the charges of “interfering with the lawful taking of wildlife” and “trespassing”. Bryan Pease (24) Buffalo, NY, Laura Carver (24) Ithaca, NY, Tim Slate (24) Boston, MA, and Milo S? (21) Ithaca, NY were all arrested and taken to the Niles county jail. They were released later that day on $100 bail. At the end of the day, Auburn citizens and activists felt a bitter- sweet victory, as they grieved the loss of 151 crows, but celebrated the thousands anticipated to be killed that had been saved by their actions.

The activists went out again on February 2nd, the second day of the contest. Again they drove the span of the county to find hunting sites. Activists had encounters with hunters as they protected crows on the second day of the contest as well. Four activists were arrested at the request of two angry hunters and charged with “trespassing,” even though they had not warned them that they were on private land.

197 crows were killed on the second day of the contest. Between both days of the event, 348 crows were killed in total. The crow advocates, although saddened by the news of the lives lost that weekend, considered their actions to have been a huge success for the tens of thousands of crows the hunters had planned on eradicating.

[Editor’s Note: After it was announced that the crow-killing contest would be officially called off for all future years, the organizers of the crow contest changed their minds (or whatever you would call it) and will continue these contests due to encouragement they received from out-of-state killers. Animal groups are working on stopping it legally, and activists promise to return to save the crows once again. Thank you to everyone who worked so hard to stop the insanity. ]


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Committee to Abolish Sport Hunting / C.A.S.H.
P.O. Box 562
New Paltz, NY 12561