I have two dilemmas to speak to in this post. First, I struggle about whether I should mention “sad” things in our posts. In our travels, we take lots of pictures of wildlife. Sometimes, the wildlife have issues. There are times we don’t notice until we review the pictures later. That occurs mostly when I use the 400 mm telephoto lens. I don’t always notice through the viewfinder. Then, I see it when I load the pictures to my laptop. We have never posted pictures of animals that have visible medical problems.
I’m wondering whether that is the right thing to do. Today has brought it forefront to my mind again. All the lovely pictures we see in magazines, etc. show us the beauty of the world around us. I think that is good. But, we don’t often see the other side.
We went for a 5 mile walk along the beach today. I saw a duck in distress next to the surf. My first thought was that this poor duck was exhausted from migration. I picked up the duck to place it above the wrack line to give it a chance to recover. It is then that I noticed the duck was bleeding and was the apparent victim of a gunshot wound. The stretch of beach we walk is next to a Wildlife Management Area that is now having hunting season. This duck was probably shot in the WMA and wound up at the beach. I was struggling to decide whether to take the duck to a vet (there is a local vet that saves wildlife), but it seemed so near death. It took a couple minutes and I decided to take off my sweatshirt and wrap the duck in the shirt and take it to the vet. Who knows, but maybe it would make it. By the time, I took off the sweatshirt and got back to the duck, it had died. I cried. If it had died from exhaustion, I could have handled it better. Since it had died from being shot, I had a hard time with it.
Later, we encountered a seabird on the beach that was clearly in distress. We try to stay clear of birds like this. If they are exhausted, they don’t need two people and a dog to cause them alarm. From the best I could tell, there was no obvious reason for the bird’s distress (e.g. fishing line). If the bird was exhausted, the best thing to do was let it be in this somewhat remote section of beach. If the bird had a man made problem, like being wrapped in fishing line, then I would feel more compelled to try to rescue it. I could not see any fishing line. The bird was well enough to avoid us and we were a mile and a half from our car and we had no net. Logically, we needed to let this bird try to recover on its own. It was in as good a place as any to do that.
Later, I was taking pictures of some seabirds and noticed that one bird was “missing a leg”. Often, birds hold their leg up while standing, so it isn’t always an issue. This bird was hopping in the surf with one leg. I saw that it did have a leg, but it wasn’t using it. Birds often lose their legs to fishing line.
Anyway, if you spend enough time outside in the natural environment, you will see some disturbing things. Some of it is life. Some of it are problems we cause. I hate to see any of it, but I particularly hate to see problems we cause.
The two dilemmas are: 1) should I post the whole of what we see and 2) when is it appropriate to try to save a distressed animal.
To end on a brighter note, I inserted a picture of Dart running on the beach. I promise to do a more upbeat post tomorrow for Thanksgiving Day in the U.S.