VANCOUVER, May 15, 2003 - The Humane Society of Canada (HSC) is disgusted and appalled that there will be a second annual slaughter of Richardson’s ground squirrels in Saskatchewan. Last year’s cruel "event" reportedly resulted in the deaths of more than 60,000 ground squirrels. The death of the animal is verified when the animal’s tail is cut off and sent in to be counted.


The Saskatoon Wildlife Federation, according to their spokesman Len Jabush, organizes the event; the companies Winchester and Browning donated prizes of guns and ammunition.

"Killing animals for fun is simply wrong," says Al Hickey, HSC Western Regional Director.

"What a sad example of how far removed from nature we have become," says HSC Executive Director, Michael O'Sullivan. "Instead of being called The Ken Turcot Memorial Gopher Derby by organizers, in my view, ‘Slaughter in Saskatchewan’ is a better description for this sad and pathetic event."

Besides the pain and suffering inflicted on these innocent animals, The Humane Society of Canada is also concerned about the effect it will have on the balance of nature.

Richardson’s ground squirrels are an important source of food for such animals as owls, hawks and coyotes. These ground squirrels also eat many insects including caterpillars, crickets and grasshoppers. O’Sullivan also says that nature does not like a vacuum and moves to fill it quickly. The availability of food, water and shelter, means that the area will only be more attractive to more ground squirrels who will move in to fill the gap, and the females will respond by having larger litters.

O’Sullivan whose father was a farmer, and whose has himself worked on farms, says he has little time for farmer’s complaints about wildlife. "To listen to some of these gun toting people talk, they make it sound like this defenceless little animal is Public Enemy No. 1. What absolute nonsense," he says.

"The young are born in May and begin foraging with their mothers in June. Orphaned young will die slow, painful deaths," says an angry O’Sullivan. "Imagine killing adults and letting the young starve simply to amuse yourself. What kind of people think this is sport? "It sure doesn’t take much courage or brains to blow away an animal that can’t fight back."

The Humane Society of Canada is asking everyone who opposes the recreational killing of wildlife to contact Saskatchewan’s Minister of the Environment, Saskatchewan’s tourism industry and other appropriate people and let them know of your concerns.

For more information contact The Humane Society of Canada, toll free, at (800) 641-KIND (5463).

CONTACT: Michael O'Sullivan by toll free 1-800-641-KIND or Michael on his cell phone (416) 876-9685 or at via twitter at and on Facebook at:

[For more than 17 years, Al Hickey was the Chief Executive of the BC SPCA and before that headed up the Alberta and BC Chambers of Commerce, and was the Executive Director of the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Vancouver. He has been The HSC Western Regional Director for over 12 years. He has 4 children and 6 grandchildren. For his lifetime of achievement dedicated to helping people, animals and the environment, we have bestowed upon him our prestigious Heroes for Animals Award, shared by only a handful of people and organizations.

A father with two children, and a houseful of dogs and cats, Michael O'Sullivan has worked across Canada and in over 110 countries during the last 40 years helping people, animals and nature.]

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