Rural PA fire company's groudhog hunt raises ire of animal

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June 03, 2002

Fire company, animal rights group clash over groundhog fundraiser

By Eric Mayes, Milton Standard-Journal writer

MILLMONT - The second fundraising hunt sponsored by the West End Fire Company in just a few months has raised the ire of animal rights advocates.

The fire company, based in Millmont, is hosting a groundhog hunt to help defray costs. The event comes after a coyote hunt the group held in March. That event went so well that organizers decided hunting style fundraisers were a good idea.

"We did excellent compared to places around us," said Jack Plotts of the coyote hunt.

Despite threats of protest, the hunt was dubbed a success by members of the fire company and spurred thoughts of another fundraiser. Although, Plotts admitted, the idea to go after groundhogs was mostly a joke.

"The little guys (groundhogs) don't do much harm to anybody," said Plotts. "It kind of started as a joke, but there seems to be a tremendous amount of interest."

He added that enough hunters have already signed up to cover the cost of posting the prize money.

Joke or not the idea of killing for money angers Rolf Helbig of Lewisburg.

Helbig was a vocal opponent of the coyote hunt and is just as mad about the groundhog hunt.

"It just bothers me that they are using this method to raise money," he said. "It's absurd it doesn't matter that whether its a groundhog or a coyote."

He is aware that groundhogs don't have quite same cachet a coyote does, but he would like to see the killing end and money raised in a different way.

"It's not just a groundhog it's a living animal that deserves to live out its life," said Helbig.

The Fund for Animals, a New York based group that advocates animal rights, has put out an alert notifying members of the event which is scheduled to take place Saturday. The animal group was very active in stopping the Hegins Pigeon Shoot.

Plotts said the protest has actually raised interest in hunting events.

"I think if they (the protestors) would just sit back and let it alone they would probably be better off," he said.

Helbig just wants the killing to stop.

"If the farmer has a problem that's one thing, but to have a hunt to raise money these guys are painting a terrible image of themselves and I'm not sure they even see it," he said.

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To comment on this story, contact Eric at eric@standard-journal.com.
 
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