Monday, January 11, 2010

Hoots, Howls, and Hollers 01/11/2010

I have spent the last two weeks obsessing on the five birds shot right after Christmas. I want to preface my thoughts on this subject with a personal revelation. I grew up in a hunting family. I was given a 4-10 shotgun for my 14th birthday. (I couldn’t even hit a clay pigeon….lack of motivation I think.) So, please know that I am not talking about hunters. We were taught what could be legally and morally taken and hawks, owls, and songbirds weren’t included….and we knew it! I will also say that my family passed down to me my love of nature and wildlife.

So, with that out of the way, I will continue with my thought process. It all boiled down to trying to understand what a person feels like when they selfishly, stupidly shoot a bird from a roosting spot (no challenge) or lumbering through the air (not much of a challenge).

Here goes: I imagine (Let me emphasize imagine.) the pumped up feeling of having a mechanism that from a safe distance with the pull of a trigger has power enough to knock a can off of a rock or drive a hole into a target taped to a wall. Then that gets boring….adrenaline begins to surge, and I see the Harris Hawk sitting atop a pole scanning the horizon for dinner. Hmmmmmmm. I sight; I shoot; I succeed.

It isn’t possible to be successful and not get a close up view of the conquest. So, I walk over to the spot where it plummeted from the pole, and pick it up for a closer look. As I grasp it, I can feel the blood on my hand seeping from the exit wound, and I watch in horror the gasping of the beak and the pumping of the lungs in a futile last ditch effort to fill. I look closer, just in time to see the life blink out of its eyes. I experience the disappointment of the neck muscle as the life energy exits allowing the neck and head to flop loosely to one side. I am feeling pretty sick about now. The hawk was exquisite, perfection, now wasted. And, what of the babies possibly left unattended in a nest to starve? There is nothing about this scenario that feels right or nothing that will be forgettable. I am forever impacted, touched, changed in a pointless partnership with the death of the bird. But, gratefully, my imagination is erasable.

I am reminded of the man who years ago brought a bundle into our facility which when deposited on the examination table revealed a great horned owl that was dying from a gunshot wound. As it gasped its last breath, the man, unable to fight back the brimming tears, said sadly, “I would never have shot it if I had known how beautiful it was. “ He was too late to help this owl, but his statement and action was the impetus for our educational program.

The shooters of the five birds mentioned earlier were more than likely uneducated. They weren’t aware of legalities, they weren’t familiar with the benefits, and they were certainly not tuned into the beauty of these animals. Folks, if you are participating in this “weapon giving rite of passage” please instill ethics, morality and compassion with your gift.


Anonymous said...

Megan,I wholeheartedly agree with your sentiment. It is incredibly sad when these innocent birds come to Liberty for help. I wish the shooters who caused the birds pain could be perched on the other side of the examination table, watching the trauma they caused. I will continue to do my best to educate the public about being responsible gun owners and respecting wildlife. Sincerely, Judy D. (Saturday Hand Feed & Ed Team)

zopeloti said...

I had a hard time reading this one. It is so very sad. Judy's idea of having some of them watch from the other side of the examining table is good. As for me, I would rather lock most of them in with Hogan for a while. Of course, woulof first have to bound the idiots hands and feet to render them helpless and vurnable.