Thursday, October 27, 2011

So Bizarre As To Be Nearly Unbelievable

 A white-tailed buck in the natural area fitted with a radio collar
For the last three years, we have been working cooperatively with a wildlife biologist at a local college to track the movement of radio-collared white-tailed deer inhabiting the natural area preserve.  We provide the land and part of the financial support, and the college provides the know-how and labor (in the form of students).  It's a nice synergistic relationship because we get to learn about the movement and population size of the herd, the biologist gets publishable research data, and the students get some exciting hands-on experience tackling deer (in a trap) and fitting them with the collars.

Over the three years, the college has trapped and monitored 33 deer.  Each collar transmits data for about three months until its battery is nearly exhausted, and then the researcher drops the collar off electronically.  Once retrieved and fitted with a new battery, the collar can then be placed on a new deer.

Yesterday morning, I came to work and found one of my employees gutting a newly-killed doe in preparation for taking the deer to a butcher for processing.  Though a little disconcerting first thing in the morning, such a scene is not at all unusual here.  What was unusual was that my employee told me that the deer had been found dead in the parking lot that morning, and that it had been shot with a 22-calibre handgun.  Although we're in the midst of hunting season, it's not legal to hunt with a handgun.

Later in the day, the wildlife biologist telephoned to fill me in on details.  It seems that around midnight, the biologist and his students captured a deer.  After fitting the animal with a collar, they released it and it sprang away into the woods (as they all typically do upon being released).  Then, before the biologist and students could even clean up and get ready to go home for the night, they head a shot that came from the direction of one of the roads adjacent to the woods.  The group turned on its collar-locating electronic device and soon found the just-collared deer, dead in the parking lot.  The unfortunate animal, traumatized by the capture and collar fitting, had been shot dead minutes later by some yahoo (a kind term) with a handgun cruising along the road after midnight.

On a personal note:  I used to run along some of these same roads, and my runs were often after dark.  This incident made me realize that some yahoo could just as easily have shot me, left me to die alongside the road like this deer, and no one would ever have apprehend the perpetrator.  It gave me pause.   

10 comments:

John Gray said...

The obsession the us has with hunting always baffles me

Tom said...

I am glad that the investigators were't caught in any cross-fire. Did you alert your local game warden? Hopefully the yahoo can be caught red-handed. I wonder if the person who shot the deer was out for meat, and then saw the collar and ran? Or was the yahoo just out for target practice?

Scott said...

John: If this were a case of hunting, it would almost be acceptable. (We have so many deer, a poached few would be a help rather than a crime.) However, this was just a case of wanton vandalism against a living creature; the fact is, the shooter was just a complete "a-hole" with a gun. Incidentally, the doe's two fawns, while weaned and old enough to fend for themselves now, are wandering around aimlessly.

Scott said...

Tom: We didn't call the wildlife control officer (i.e., game warden). There are so many similar incidents around here it wouldn't be worth his while. Personally, I have no doubt that the shooter just saw an opportunity to shoot something--anything--and fired away. The roads around the woods are pretty deserted after midnight; there's no chance of an apprehension.

Carolyn H said...

Scott: Yes this is a story that's just about unbelievable. After dark, from a passing car, a handgun. That's a lot of violations. Two years ago the twin fawns of a legally shot doe spent the winter eating my juniper bushes. Both survived the winter, and I believe at least one of them, now a grown doe herself, still lives and rambles around my cabin, totally unafraid even when I have Dog with me. She had twin fawns of her own this year.

John "By Stargoose And Hanglands" said...

There was a story - probably an urban myth - that a goose fitted with a tracking device was tracked doing 70mph down the motorway. The poacher was easily apprehended at the next motorway service area when he called in for a coffee.

Scott said...

Good goose story, John! Our deer collars only transmit by GPS, though, not by voice.

Scott said...

Carolyn: I didn't even think about the "hunting after dark" aspect of the whole incident; thanks for adding that to the list of wildlife violations. I'll bet that these two fawns survive the winter. There's a small group of females in the woods that will "adopt" these fawns and mentor them through the changing weather and food availability.

Gail said...

Hi, and oh my, what a tragic story, and ya. big yahoo idiot,
nice to have you stop by my place.

Love Gail
peace.....

packrat said...

This is the kind of heartbreaking story that leads me to concur with the conclusions Mark Twain reached in his essay "The Lowest Animal."