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Published: August 24th 2010
Tonight I saw the worst thing I've seen since I got here: A fawn hit straight the head with a golf ball that is unconscious and seizing. There's a meeting in the workshop, which has the enclosure where he should go but can't due to the noise, so he is stuck in his kennel and there are only two options:
A) Move him into a padded enclosure and, knowing the odds are not in his favour, see if he survives the night, and take him to a vet in the morning if he does, with hopes of rehabilitation and then release to his mother.
B) Recognize that the odds are not in his favour and end his intermittent seizures with euthanasia.
It's a really hard decision to make. There are those one-in-ten cat-attacked birds who due survive the first night and go on to be released, but it's hard to put an animal through a night of suffering based on that chance, especially when you see, and can't help but feel, the pain it is in.
Black-tailed deer are not endangered and do not have any kind of species-at-risk status. Whether this one lives or dies doesn't
affect the species' population, won't emotionally scar its mother, and only costs time and money from humans. An advocate for species-at-risk-only rehabilitation would say either to euthanize it or just leave it where it was and let nature take its course. That's a lot easier to say without seeing the deer, though.
This is one specific deer that would be healthy and wandering the forest if it weren't for a direct human impact. One human hurt it; many humans created the conditions that enabled this, and innumerable other animal casualties, to happen.
It's the Pacific Slope Flycatcher who, while chasing its prey (flies) flew into fly-catching tape put up in someone's backyard to help them enjoy their patio without bugs and dies overnight; the Peregrine Falcon who flew into a building; One of the many loons who thought the shiny, hot asphalt was a lake and had a brutal landing; The five Bald Eagles with barbiturate poisoning from improperly buried euthanized pets; the mother deer hit straight on by a car who we at least used to feed our eagles but has left her fawn early; and on and on.
I don't really have a strong opinion
about where rehabilitation money should go. But if we hurt an animal and can help it recover, or at least end its pain, shouldn't we? If we're responsible, we should be held responsible. If we want to not put effort into rehabilitation, we shouldn't injure the animals in the first place. Since I've been here I've learned: don't allow your cat outside, pay attention to wildlife-related driving signs, allow a veterinarian to dispose of your pet, put up window treatments that prevent bird crashes, and don't interfere with wildlife without asking a professional!
Being here and spending weeks caring for one small sparrow, or spending one night hoping a warbler will still be alive in the morning, reminds me of the value that each animals has, regardless of its species.
Edit: I just found out the deer died. We did our best to give it a shot at life, and now the suffering is over.
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