By Kimberly Davis


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WINSLOW TOWNSHIP, N.J. (CBS) — A controversy is brewing in South Jersey over a hunting club’s “squirrel hunt” competition. Organizers are calling it a family-friendly introduction to a centuries-old tradition.

But animal rights activists say it is an abomination and they plan to protest.

It’s a family affair and whoever bags the fattest squirrel is declared the winner of the first annual Squirrel Classic in Winslow Township.

“There’s going to be a couple of guest speakers, and workshops, too, like how to skin a squirrel and how to prepare a squirrel,” Cody McLaughlin said.

McLaughlin is part of New Jersey Outdoor Alliance, a group in support of the Squirrel Classic.

“Squirrel hunting is a long-standing and time-honored tradition. It’s been around since humans have lived in New Jersey and everywhere else on Earth,” he said.

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But not everyone is in support of the family-friendly event.

“To make this a family-friendly event, to teach kids to be cruel to animals, I see a strong correlation between abusing animals and growing up to abuse people,” Jay Lassiter said.

Lassiter says he has no problem with the guns, it’s the hunt that’s cruel.

Lassiter will be one of the protesters standing outside of Inskip Antlers Hunting Club bright and early Saturday morning.

“These kinds of events, they tend to bait the animals for weeks in advance, to get these animals habituated into coming around. I suspect that’s what’s happening here,” Lassiter said.

Though McLaughlin says he can understand why some may not be in support of the hunt, they have organized this Squirrel Classic by the book.

“My dad said that the best squirrel call was 50 cents. Two quarters that you rub together not bait or anything of that nature. There’s no starving squirrels in New Jersey, there’s nuts all over the woods,”  he said.

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“There’s a better way to manage those kinds of nuisances without shooting it, and to teach a child to shoot it,” Lassiter said.

Teams will be made up of five people and there is a five squirrel limit per person.

The event starts at 6 a.m.

Kimberly Davis