Who Knew Ducks Were Rascist?

I could hear the ducks raising hell out in back and since the bobcat is loose in the house the doggy door is closed and Sophie is inside. (Not that Sophie has ANY inclination of going outside, in the dark, to investigate noises)
So I grab a flashlight with dying batteries, wake the dog and drag her outside. We walk all the way to the back fence and the ducks are indeed, raising hell about something. The flashlight is now down to the brightness of a wet candle, but I make out the source of their distress and the reason they are all pasted against the far side of the pen.
A turkey. A lone bronze turkey, smaller than most of the ducks and looking very confused is standing in the middle of the duck pen. The turkey pen and the duck pen share a common wall. It has taller fence and high bird netting on the turkey side. Somehow though, the little bugger had flown over, but instead of freedom, he found himself in the wrong neighborhood.
The ducks were livid. You would have thought he was a bird flu carrier or a rabid fox. They all shouted obscenities as I picked him up and carried him from the pen. Two of them demanded that I change their food dish and water pool, just in case he drank or ate from them.
I apologized to the turkey for their behavior and assured him that someday he would be 5 times bigger and prettier than them and face it, who the hell would want DUCK for Thanksgiving dinner? I’m sure he felt a bit better as I returned him to the pile of turkeys in the big pen. That’s when I noticed that there was even more segregation. The geese sleep in one pile, the chickens in the shelter and the turkeys way over by the gate.
Who knew.
On the way back to the house, the flashlight went out like a rejected firefly and Sophie and I were surrounded by darkness. Actually, it was nice. The gnats that had been madly pelting us in the face dispersed and it was calm.
We could hear crickets in the garden and somewhere a treefrog called out for rain. I looked up to see if he was succeeding and saw the brilliance of the stars. There was no moon to compete and they were almost as dazzling as I remember them from my childhood.
My father would spread a blanket out in the yard and we would lay with our heads on his chest or arm. He’d smoke his sweet smelling pipe and point out the Big Dipper, Mars and the Milky way. he used to say if you listened hard enough, you could hear them sing.
In the darkness tonight, I could almost smell his pipe tobacco and feel the rumble of his bass voice in his chest. The night chill was the same and I longed for the warmth of his arm. The milky way doesn’t seem as bright without him.
Oh I know, it’s light pollution and older eyes that don’t see in the dark as well, but I think it’s also that a bright star in my life is no longer there. No matter how old you get. You always miss your dad.
Sophie, unappreciative of the stars and longing for the couch, started to whine. I shook the flashlight, hoping to resurrect it enough to guide me through the minefield of deer poop. Sadly, it failed to shine again and I’ll be washing my slippers tomorrow. We came in the house and Sophie is now snoring at my feet.
The ducks have gone quiet and I can still hear the crickets and that lone tree frog calling for rain. I don’t know if he will get his wish or not, but we could use the moisture. It’s been a bit dry of late.
I think I’ll put the cat away and go to bed, but first……I’m going to go look up at the stars and listen to them sing.

Letting Go

The August moon is waning and the time of letting go has begun. Coons have been gone for weeks and the second batch of possums went tonight. Birds and squirrels are a constant coming and going, so there isn’t much angst involved.
Letting go of porcupines is another story.

I have begun to think that everyone needs a porcupine in their life. Like many people, they are sometimes sharp and prickly, but you love them anyway. When they are babies, they learn to trust you and you can handle them gently without gloves. They are vocal enough to let you know if you are late feeding and grunt happily when you appear with their bottle.

When you feed a porcupine, you can do nothing else. You can’t talk on the phone. You can’t eat your breakfast. You can’t even drink a cup of coffee. It takes two hands, one to hold the porcupine and one to hold the bottle. Sometimes they hum while you feed them. You can’t rush them either. They take their time and you have to go with it or end up with a hand full of quills.

Feeding a porcupine is a lesson in mindfulness. It’s total calm (or else). It’s my Zen. I will set the computer to “The Great Bell Chant” and we sit . Sometimes the porcupine finishes first…sometimes the chant, but no matter what else you have to do or how hectic your day, you have those moments to sit.

I miss those moments of calm and the chance to simply sit. When they are weened, it’s all too easy to skip my times of mindfulness. Sometimes in the evening though, after everyone is tucked in their respective beds, but me, I will sit in the chair and listen to the porcupine softly snore.

The time comes though, that even that ends. The porcupine moves to an outdoor cage or enclosure where he learns to climb and munch watermelon, corn, leaves and grasses and crisp sweet potatoes. I often wonder what they think when they get in the woods and there are no sweet potatoes growing in the trees.

Then in the waning moon of August, it is time for them to leave. It doesn’t always work on the first try. I was worried that tonight might be one of those nights when you bring them back home and try again in a few weeks.

We know of a perfect place at the end of a dead end two track. It was once a homestead and there are little bridges of rocks across the creek that winds through it. The orchard and house are gone, but a few wild apple and pear trees have grown to replace them. It is lush with ferns and thick with oak, pine, beach and cedar. In other words, it is porcupine heaven.
We took along the possums that were eager to run off into the woods when the cage was opened and they were encouraged to experience freedom. The porcupines take a bit more time.

I carried her along the stream bank, showing her the different plants, the crossings and the best trees. I found a beech with a low branch and allowed her to climb from my hands to the tree. She whined and clicked her teeth with anxiety. She nearly tumbled off the branch, so I put her on the ground. She quickly (as quickly and a porcupine can) came to me and started climbing up my leg.

Scooping her up, we walked some more. Her high pitched whine and teeth clicking gradually changed to a lower pitch of excitement and chatters. I found a big white pine with lots of thick low branches and let her crawl from my hand to the branch. At first she climbed away from me, then turned and started whining again and came back to my arm.

We just talked to each other (I talked, she whined) till she calmed down and we repeated the process. After two or three times, back and forth, she climbed higher in the tree away from me. She tasted the needles and bark and grunted happily. She had taken her choice. She was home and I could leave.

I admit. It was hard to walk away. I looked back several times to see if she was trying to reach me. She wasn’t. So in the gloaming dusk, I left her.

I hope she’ll be safe. I hope she’ll have enough to eat. I hope she finds a mate. I hope she has a long life with many babies.

I hope, that somewhere in that slightly primitive brain, she will remember me.

I know, I will remember her.

Cat’s, cats and more Cats.

Ok, so I took in my dead friend’s cats. Annie (AKA Annie Banannie) Is so cool. She is extremely over weight and cannot jump up on things (we are working on a weight reduction program) Even though she is in a mad house and not getting the food she likes, she is pretty content to sit behind and empty aquarium and watch the world go by. If you come near her, she rolls over and purrs. She even purrs for Sophie if Soph sits quietly.

Annie is the ultimate in cool, even if her extra toes do kind of creep me out.
The other one…..well, I always thought he ( she , whatever, there is so much fur on this cat’s ass I can’t tell) was the coolest. A Norwegian forest cat (we believe) showed up at her door already declawed (don’t get me started on that) and I assume, spayed or nutered as a small kitten. It has luxurious gray fur and the distinctive triangular face of the Norse cats.

I always liked him, because he was not an “In your face” kind of cat. He strolled through the room, nodding his approval or disapproval, would try to drink the foam off my coffee and then move along as if he owned the house and he allowed us peasants to visit.

He basically had a lovely “Fuck you” attitude and I like that in a cat.

It took two attempts for her son to get him here. Annie Bannannie, rode peacefully on on the floor of the car and wrapped her arms around me when she saw me. The other cat hissed and swatted (first time I’ve been grateful for declawed cats) when cornered and wormed his way out of the carrier and disappeared before he could even get to the car.. Dave was beginning to think we’d have to set live traps. But the desire for food won over distain.

He arrived in the carrier with a zip tie on the zipper so he couldn’t escape. I was cautioned that I might want to use a long stick to free him. I opened it next to Annie and backed away in case he attacked. He stayed in the carrier most of the afternoon hissing and growling at everything that ventured within 10 feet. (Sophie, Annie, me, flies, the wall…..)

After he ventured out, he still hated the world and all it’s breathing occupants. If I walked too close to the emperor, he swatted. If I looked at him without my head bowed, he hissed. You could hear his growls at regular intervals. I thought “Ok, Annie is for petting and this long haired harridan is for avoiding. This will work out.)
Then last night, he rubbed against my leg. I froze, petrified. He PURRED. Oh my God! He Purred. he jumped up on the table while I fed the squirrels and though he sniffed them thoroughly, he showed no indication that they might be a food product. (as the dieting progresses, I’m not that confident that Annie will share those sentiments). I shut the studio door to give them peace from Sophie and went to bed.

This mornings introduction to the bobcat kitten did not go well, so I put her outside early and went about feeding. Again, the cat jumped up on the table and watched me feed squirrels. He nonchalantly sniffed in the direction of the baby bunnies.

It wasn’t until I sat down at the computer with my coffee that I learned what I’d gotten myself into. It’s like the coffee triggered the memory of who I was. he was in my face. He was in my coffee. He was laying in the keyboard and generally demanding all my attention. It’s not easy with a big ball of floof in your face to use the computer.

HE WONT LEAVE ME ALONE. He’s like an adolescent boy with a can of AXE body spray. He is all over me. I am gagging at the cat hair in my coffee.

But…..I am loved. Hopefully not with this intensity as the weeks go by, but I am certainly loved.

Now, wait till he meets the tortoise.

Warning. Poop Story. Pretty Gross.

When the tortoise first came, she had been eating little more than lettuce, yellow squash and occasionally kale. She was only allowed to graze for about an hour a day. In the winter, she ate hay. Here, she is outside all day and I’ve introduced her to bananas, watermelon, clover, fresh garden vegetables and all kinds of fruit. She is allowed to graze all day. Her first poops were small white and liquid. I didn’t think it would be so bad. II could cope with that and a bucket of water.

Two days ago, I found a big, soft turd in front of the gate. I washed it away with some effort and the garden hose. I was stumped to discover it consisted of barely digested grass. I worried that one of the fawns was not properly ruminating and was ill, but everyone seemed fine.

Skip to this afternoon. A massive pile of poop in front of the gate again. I blamed Sophie and she looked at me like I was crazy. I went looking for the shovel and passed Roomba (the tortoise), just as she was ,I swear, smiling and letting go of another Poop. I couldn’t believe anything that big could come from a turtle! Sophie looked up at me waiting for an apology. My apology was indeed, profuse.

We have a new entry on the Gaskin poop scale.

Before I had time to remove it, Jamie came over with two of her Chihuahua mixes. Luna is a known shiteater (Like a sin eater, but worse breath). She prefers goose, but will settle for deer poop now that the geese are locked up. You can guess what happened next.

She thought he had hit the jackpot and dove into the pile. I didn’t know whether to laugh or gag, but Jamie shrieked as she ran for the nearest shovel. Not to be deterred, Bad Breath Betty, headed for the one on the other side of the yard where Roomba was digging in the fresh dirt. Jamie is not as fast as her dog.
But, in the end, Luna had to settle for sifting through the grass for deer poop with her teeth, like a lowbush blueberry picker with a shuttle as the rest of us giggled under our breath.

Then it hit me. If a 30 pound turtle can poop like a Labrador Retriever now, what is it going to be like when it is 75 to 100 pounds?

It also hit me….I’m babysitting Luna tomorrow. I wonder if tortoises poop every day…..

August Moon

The moon was spectacular last night. Her luminosity made my lantern unnecessary when I went out to feed the fawns. I watched a few stray clouds scuttle across the silver surface and noticed a tinge or orange on the very edges of those clouds. You don’t see that color in early and midsummer moons…but midsummer is past and that moon has become the Green Corn Moon.

I learned the names of the moons from an old Native American friend when I was a child. They often differ from the standard almanack moons of the white settlers. The Green Corn Moon was so named because the corn was ripe and juicy and sweet. Fresh ears were roasted in the fire and The People filled their bellies with it’s goodness. They knew that the winter would be long and there would be many nights of soup and succotash made with the dry corn of harvest. This corn was a treat and was celebrated with stories and songs.

I always feel a bit wistful at the August moon. It’s the last moon of summer and soon the light will change and the softness of the summer will turn to the sharp, crisp sky of Autumn. The moon will rise golden and her light will turn cold as she passes across the sky. The hectic time of harvest will be here and my arms will feel the itch and scratch of wool sweaters reluctantly pulled over my head.

I didn’t want to waste this moon. I took off my shoes to feel the dew and gave the deer their warm, sweet bottles of milk. This time too will come to an end. Some already turn their heads and reach for grass of the sweetfeed at their feet. Their spots are fading and they raise their muzzles to the wind. I wonder if they are smelling the fresh scent of freedom and are already thinking of forests and fields beyond the fence. My time with them is limited.

when they finished, I followed them out into the yard. We walked all the way to the garden and beyond. Every once in a while a cool nose pressed into my hand or against my leg. Sophie came to join us and that’s when the dancing began.
It started with a headbutt to the side of my leg, then progressed with a sideways shuffle to the side, soon all the deer and Sophie were running and jumping around me. The bucks would bow low and shake their heads, then race in circles around us. The does would raise up on their hid legs and then leap in a different direction.

They raced around the perimeter of the garden and then would come back to me, inviting me to run.
But I’m old and slow and not a deer. They are becoming aware of this now. I am not a deer. They long to have the company of other deer instead of old ladies. The tie that binds us will stretch and strain and finally break. Once the gates are lowered, I will see them less and less.

Some will return on a daily basis, still begging for that warm bottle of milk. I’ll indulge them, as much for me as them. Some will disappear within day and I’ll never see them again, not knowing if they have joined in a heard of wild deer or somehow died on the road or in the jaws of a coyote. The longest night of the year is the night that they do not return to the yard to sleep. I lay awake listening for the screech of brakes or the shrill cries of coyotes with prey.

Then there is always that one. The one who can’t let go. The one who will come back just to stare at the house or sleep in her familiar pen. The one that even years later, I will see in the field and it will turn and look at me and want and not want to approach me for a scratch.

I love it when that happens. I know that I succeeded at my work. I know that there is a healthy deer that would not have been there without me. It’s a little thing in the scope of the world, but it’s enough for me.

In the meantime. I have this moon, I have this night where lanterns have no need and I will dance with the fawns in the dew.

Sometimes it isn’t about the bird at all

Tonight was one of those nights that reminds me that it’s not always about the animal.

The day started out on a sour note. I’d been up all night prepping for a medical┬áprocedure in the morning and was tired, sick to my stomach and suffered from other induced maladies.

A man called a little after eight about a bird that hit his window last evening. he was arrogant and demanding and did not want to listen to my advice about the bird and not being able to repair it’s broken wing. he kept pushing. I told him that I was not feeling well and getting ready to leave for the surgical center and really couldn’t deal with it at the moment. Maybe he could call back in the afternoon. He became belligerent and told me , he didn’t care. He’d “Just kill the bird and I could live with that”.

Ok, I guess I have a lot of bird lives lined up in my karma.

I got a nap in this afternoon and was trying to get caught up on the 9 hours of work that didn’t get done today and the phone rang again.It was a woman with of course, another bird. This one had a broken leg from a cat. I started to explain to her about the bacteria in a cats mouth, but she interrupted me and said she’d do anything for this bird to help it. She just lost her dog of 19 years a today and needed to do something for this bird.
I knew I needed to take this bird, even if it was hopeless.

So we waited for her. We finally gave up at 7:30 and started eating dinner. She shows up on about the third mouthful.

She’s driving an expensive┬ácar. She’s blond, in her mid 50’s. She has cowboy boots and smells like horses. Now anyone that knows me well, understands how and why that is an immediate PTSD trigger for me. I put my dinner down and let her in anyway.

The bird was hopeless. I could see the puncture wound when the cat broke it’s leg, but I fed it and made it cozy anyway. I knew I couldn’t do much for the bird, but I could for her.

We looked at the animals inside. I let Sophie lavish her attentions on her. I took her outside for a tour and asked her to tell me about her dog. We pet baby bunnies, watched the bob cat, played with Crow and the Blue Jay Brothers and then took her out to find the fawns. Red of course, figured if she was with me, she was OK with him and came to her for scratches and nuzzles.

She was here for about an hour and a half. She smiled the whole time. My diner was coagulating on my plate, I was still tired and worn out, but she was feeling better. That’s all that mattered. She was feeling better.
When she finally left around 9, I ate my cold chicken. After that I went in to check the bird. I dressed the wound with antibiotic powder, just in case it’s a claw wound and not a tooth and set the leg. It doesn’t look hopeful, I don’t think I can do anything, but make it comfortable and watch it die.

But you know what? It isn’t about the bird. It’s about the woman who lost her best friend of 19 years today and the fact that she smiled for an hour and a half.

I feel bad for the man this morning. He couldn’t see beyond his own immediate needs. He could have called back later in the afternoon. He could have explained why it was so important that I take the bird. Instead, he reacted with anger that his needs couldn’t be met immediately.

He couldn’t see that sometimes…. it isn’t about the bird at all.

Blackberry Bunny

Yesterday, as hot as it was, I went out and picked the black berries. In this heat they don’t hold long and if I want black berry jam and a pie for Jimmy, it needs to be done.

The heat was shimmering in the air and I could smell the chlorine of my little blow up pool that was my incentive to finish the job. I could almost feel the cool water close over me as I picked.

Of course Crow and at least two deer accompanied me, along with Sophie, my lab. My bucket didn’t fill very fast as it was “Pick two for the bucket, one for the crow, two for the deer and don’t forget Sophie”. Luckily the heat was a bit much for them in the sun and all but Crow left me. He moved up into the mulberry tree and contented himself with dropping mulberries into the pool below. (Now you know why I have a slight lavender cast to my skin).

I have a milk crate, one of the old sturdy ones) out there to reach the berries on top of the little arbor, but I still fall a few inches short, so there are plenty of prime berries for the other birds to eat. My young robin, came and did exactly that. After about an hour, I moved over to the other side of the fence.

Levi doesn’t mow as much as we do and the grass along that side fence and berries is long and tangled. There is a deep pink rosebush that rambles along and through the fence and I had to tread carefully to avoid it wrapping around my ankles. (A 1oo year old rose has very long thorns)

My flip flops kept getting caught in the long grass, so I left them behind as I kept picking. Being in the brush like that, not all the berries make it to the bucket tied around your waist. Every so often, you hear the soft plop as one hits the ground, but who wants to search through the weeds for one berry.

Sometime, I became aware of something occasionally tickling my feet and ankles. I has seen a little deer mouse scurry through the fence when I began and I knew that there was a grass snake that lived in that comer, so I really didn’t think much of it. Then something definitely sniffed my ankle.
I looked down and there was a tiny brown bunny at my feet. Every time I would drop a berry, he would sneak in to eat it. I laughed out loud and it scurried away.

It was too hot to continue and my bucket was heavy around my waist and the call of the pool was irresistible. I left a handful of berries on the ground where the bunny could reach them and climbed back through the brambles and richly scented roses.
I fell into the pool and let the cool water envelope me. I lay on my raft with the current from the filter swirl me around. I watched clouds, then trees, clouds then trees, pass through my vision.

Crow came down to join me and I was nearly asleep when he started dipping his beak into the pool and spitting water on my head. I figured this meant he was ready to go inside and I knew everyone’s feeding time was coming up. (Including my husbands)

As I passed back through the arbor, I noticed the pile of berries was gone. Happy bunny. Happy me.

One more time for the masses

Cat’s have filthy mouths. Besides their foul language, their filthy mouths are filled with bacteria that is FATAL to small animals, ie…birds, squirrels, rodents BUNNIES. If a cat even breathes on one of these small animals (Even if the bunny IS bigger than the cat, trust me on this one), the animal will die of sepsis within 24 hours. TWENTY FOUR HOURS OR LESS.

Do not tell me that it is a small wound or that the cat only used it’s claws. DO not bring me a bunny that half the skin is ripped off or a leg has been chewed and say that you are sure it wasn’t in the cat’s mouth. DO not bring me a bunny or anything but a child over 4 years old that a cat has dragged in for 24 hours. Not 10, not 18. 24. Got that 24 hours.

You have no idea how many people have insisted that it’s been 24 hours and drive out her only to open the box and it’s a dead bird, or bunny, or squirrel or toad. Yes, it did look perfectly healthy an hour ago, but it’s not now. (Once someone had the balls to ask for gas money reimbursement because the bird was dead. I laughed. I laughed a lot)

TWENTY FOUR HOURS. Believe me, I have tried every antibiotic, short of a 24 hour IV drip, and nothing works. Cat bite = Death.

What do you do then when Fluffy brings you a present? Three things. 1. You can either give it back to the cat (hopefully you avoid a disposal process, unless your cat is a puker) 2. You can put the animal in a box in a quiet place and not open it for 24 hours. If it makes you feel better, you can put some water and food in with it. 3. If the animal is badly injured, put it down, either manually or back to solution 1.

NOW. On the off chance that Fluffy had no teeth or didn’t like the taste of fresh meat on the paw or was just using the animal for batting practice and you open the box after 24 hours and the bunny, squirrel, toad, mouse, bird or toddler is still alive and looking at you, THEN you can call me. It can probably be released back outside or in the case of an injury, I can see what I can do.

But if you call me? Daylight hours only. I’m getting pretty damn crabby in my old age.

Wildlife are Not Cats or Dogs

Today can be summed up with “Wild animals are not cats and dogs”

Cats and dogs are fairly predictable. Most of the time you pet them and they are happy, you feed them cat and dog food, when they are sick or hurt, you take them to the vet.

People see the pet possum or the house raccoon or even the deer with a party hat watching tv on the internet and they forget that these are wild animals. In the 30 seconds or few minutes of the video, it seems as though they are really not much different than dogs and cats. They love you as their masters and they appreciate your help.

It doesn’t always work that way.

Wild animals, even most very young wild animals are exactly that. Wild. They fear humans. The don’t like anything that doesn’t fit in with their world and mostly, that is humans.
The day started with the woman picking up the young bobcat after it was hit by a car. Instead of calling a rehabber or the DNR immediately for advice, she put the unconscious cat in a dog crate and took it to a vet.

First of all, very few vets treat wild life. Most won’t even allow them in their clinics. All understand that a scared wild animal is dangerous and will lash out. The cat was awake when it got there and scratched the woman who picked it up.
To make a long story short, the vet called the DNR and by Michigan law, the cat had to be put down and tested for rabies. No way around it. Once it breaks the skin, the animal is doomed. People pick them up anyway.

This is one of the biggest reasons I do not allow people to touch the animals in my care. Yet still, they will walk in and the first thing they do is stick their fingers into the cages. My eyes are rolling right now.

Next, came 5 baby possums. Two severely injured with limbs or tails “Degloved”. (that means, the skin is torn away leaving nothing but raw muscle and nerves. It is extremely painful and takes a long time and lots of treatment to heal. I put the healthy ones in a cage and the other two in a darkened basket to be dispatched when they left.

The wife demanded to know how I was going to treat it. Then showed me photos on her phone of a kitten she rescued from a fire. One ear was burned off and a foreleg degloved. It has a large, raw burned patch on it’s side. The photos were gruesome. Then she showed the after photos of this cat, now mostly blind and said it took over 40 vet visits and surgery to save it.

All I could think of is “why?. Was the pain and suffering that kitten went through really worth the outcome? Animals don’t cling to life like we do. They don’t experience angst about death. They do experience pain….but….since this was a domestic animal, the vets could treat it. They could relieve much of it’s pain. It could take comfort t in the touch of human hands.
If this wasn’t bad enough, about 9:45 tonight a woman called and wanted me to come get an adult raccoon that had been hit by a car. She said it was trying to get up but couldn’t. She stated that it got nasty when she tried to move it out of the road. She wanted me to do something. NOW.

I tried gently explaining that there really wasn’t a lot I could do for a coon in that state (trying to handle an injured adult coon is a lot like juggling chainsaws. It aint gonna work for long) I told her that there aren’t any vets who would even look at the coon, let alone treat it and I am not a vet, there is only so much I can do with my limited resources. I told her that the best thing for the coon was to either put it down or simply leave it alone to expire in relative peace.

She would have none of it. She cried and whined. She demanded that I come help the coon. She got really upset when I told her no. I value my fingers. I have scars running up and down my arms from raccoons, and am not in the market for more. I was not going to drive 30 miles to Mancelona and pick up the coon.

She hung up on me with a few choice words including “Heartless, lazy and bitch”.
What she didn’t know is that I felt bad when I put the phone back in the charger. I felt bad for her. I felt bad for the coon. I hate feeling so helpless. But I can guarantee that if I HAD gone to rescue that coon and it was still clinging to life when I got there, it would not have been happy to see me. It’s fear of me would have far outweighed any comfort I could give it unless it involved a quick end to this life.

Not 15 minutes later, a young girl arrived with a fledgling robin. She said it was acting funny and it’s mother threw it out of the nest. When I looked at it, I could tell that it was ready to leave the nest anyway. but it’s head was shaking, it was staggering and the mouth was partially open with it’s tongue forward and raised. All are classic signs of poisoning. Someone treats their lawn or garden or sprays for mosquitos and the mother bird either ingests the bugs or worms and dies or feeds it to her babies and they die.

She did not want to hear this. She wanted me to DO something. Couldn’t I pump it’s stomach or give it something to counteract the poison? No. It’s a bird. All I could do is put it in a dark basket, so it would be calm as see what happens. I’ll know by morning.

I am not going to hold it as it dies to comfort it. It would bring it no comfort. It is not a beloved cat or dog. It is a wild bird, never touched before by human hands. It does not want to be in those hands now.

It is frustrating. Most of the time I can bring them no comfort other than trying to relieve pain or ending that pain forever. They are not cats and dogs. They are forever wild.

Laws are laws

I got a pretty frantic call this morning. A woman was at the vets. She had a full grown bobcat in a carrier in the back of her car. The DNR was on it’s way.

She saw the cat get hit on the road and it was unconscious. She stuffed it in her dogs carrier that she happened to have in the back of her car. She rushed it to a vet.

The vet agreed to come out to the car, but by now the cat was fully conscious and mad. It was spitting and growling, but the woman opened the cage anyway. The cat scratched her and drew blood.

The vet called the DNR.

The woman was frantic and angry that the DNR officer said they would have to put the cat down to have it tested for rabies since it drew blood. The woman was furious and wanted me to do something.

There is nothing I can do. Both the DNR and I are bound by laws. The law states that all wild animal wounds require the animal in question to be put down, the head removed and sent to Lansing, where it will be opened and a black light shined on the brain. If it fluoresces, the rabies virus is present. In Northern Michigan, it rarely fluoresces. The DNR knows that. I know that. Still, it is the law.

She said she would just open the door and let the cat out. (A bad idea in town). She said she’d take it back to where she found it, but that might lead to even more trouble and possible charges being brought against her. Not only that, but she would have to go through the rabies anti toxin injections. (Not as painful as they used to be, but very expensive.)

There really wasn’t going to be any way out of this for the cat. Hopefully, it was not a female with kits.

There is a lesson here. Wild animals are just that. They will fight back, no matter how cute or helpless they may seem at the moment. Always, always, always use precautions. Anticipate that the animal will bite or scratch you. In the case of an adult animal, call the DNR or a wildlife rehabber BEFORE you try to move it.

It’s sad, that this animal will have to be euthanized. It’s not the first time that I have had to deal with this. It won’t be the last.

Maybe though, if people use a little more caution, there will be less of it.