The Vermont Crow Shoot: Is It Really Cancelled?
On March 16, we alerted our supporters about a horrific crow shoot planned for next Saturday, April 7, in Williamstown, Vermont, organized by the hunting club, the Boonie Club. The event was a pure killing contest with entry fees and cash prizes awarded to the most bloodthirsty team which was able to shoot the most crows. Over 10,000 of you contacted the Club's President, Mark McCarthy, by phone and through our alert. On Wednesday, March 21, the Boonie Club posted a notice on its Facebook page that the hunt was cancelled, but then took the whole page down the same day.
Articles that mentioned local criticism of the hunt and the backlash against McCarthy's business, Lenny's Shoe and Apparel, a chain with three stores and an online business, first appeared in the Burlington Free Press and US News & World Report on March 13 and 14 respectively. After the cancellation notice, more articles appeared in USA Today, US News & World Report, Fox News, and Animals 24-7 which were all based on an initial report from the Burlington Free Press.
While we're thrilled about the announcement, we're troubled by the feedback our supporters have given us. People who have spoken with Mark McCarthy let us know that he claimed that crows would get shot anyway, and possibly more would die now since the controversy than would have died if his hunt had proceeded. If that is the case, we will blame McCarthy for both his attempt to resurrect an unappealing hunt that garnered very little support in years previously and for his wording of the cancellation which says that the Boonie Club is hosting an "AMERICAN CROW FIELD DAY" where it "invites all outdoor enthusiasts to gather with friends and family for a day afield enjoying whatever outside activities you like to participate in. No admission fee required, and no prizes awarded for having a good time in the great outdoors of Vermont."
We called and corresponded with McCarthy, offering to pay for as many clay targets (up to $1000 worth) as his club could shoot on that day, rather than risk people gathering to kill crows. We asked him to put a notice on the Boonie Club website that the hunt was cancelled, and we asked that he promise no further crow shoots would be organized by the Club. Of all our requests, the only one that was honored was that a notice was put on the Boonie Club website, and McCarthy denied any hidden meaning in his post.
We're awaiting response to our last correspondence where we ask for either a public posting from the Club asking that no crows get shot or a confirmation that none of the nine members of the hunt club including McCarthy or employees of his store, participate in a crow hunt on that weekend.
We hope we can trust McCarthy's announcement and that he's only trying to deny responsibility for any crows who may get shot to protect his business, and that he isn't secretly organizing a hunt anyway. We urge those of you who care about crows who live in the state to get out there to document what happens next weekend. Please bring recording equipment. If we hear that any crows were killed, we'll ask for a boycott of McCarthy's business.