Friday, December 26, 2008

Ethics vs Laws

Snow covers the roads making for treacherous driving conditions, the emergency flashers from a pickup illuminate through the whiteout. Directly in front of the truck lays a yearling mule deer, her back legs are broken and repeated attempts to stand seem fruitless. I stop my vehicle and approach the pickup that is parked behind the wounded yearling. As I approach the cab a man steps from his truck, I ask if he hit the deer and if he plans to put the pitiful creature out of her misery. He announces through whisky-tainted breath that he did not hit the deer but was waiting for the local game warden to dispatch the animal. He then informed me that I would be breaking the law should I put her out of her misery myself. I turn and retreat to my vehicle with a now very angry demeanor; I recall the calf elk stuck in the fence along the Meeteetse highway a few years back. Her back leg was shattered and she was squealing in absolute pain. I called the game warden and waited while he came to end her suffering. After an hour and a half of waiting, he finally arrived on the scene and took several shots from his revolver to finally end her suffering. I as an ethical hunter, conservationist and lover of all things natural am appalled by the notion that only a police officer or game warden can legally make the call as to when and why a wounded animal may be put down. This fall a Bull Moose broke his leg and the officers took at least eight shots to end the animal’s life while a known hunter and marksmen with decades of hunting prowess was forced to stand by and watch. I do not condone people recklessly shooting animals or killing them along our roadways. But would like to see the laws fixed so wounded creatures need not suffer until the authorities see fit to show up. The wounded yearling was in the town of Cody Wyoming, and several people were witness to her long suffering while Cody game and fish officers took their time getting to the scene. Sometimes ethics directly contrast with man’s laws; however, the stiff penalties for taking the “good road” in such instances usually override commonsense and righteous behavior for fear of repercussion. I always offer up a prayer to those creatures who die on our roadways, and never accept their deaths as something expected. Each creature had a life before its death and deserves our respect even as a bystander after the fact. So next time you see that raccoon, deer or owl lying on the shoulder, offer up a prayer to them and honor their existence. Maybe the next time you meet up with one of their relatives in the wild, they will remember your prayers for the fallen and look upon you as a brother or sister, instead of as a threat. HAWK a/ho


Crazy Horse said...

Living in Pennsylvania I see the same type of ethical battles you describe. Common sense and ethics are not often considered when the game commission creates their laws. Sad to say that if I end an animals suffering here in PA, I am branded an outlaw. I honor my prey and my sport by hunting ethically and within the governing laws, but in the instance you describe, I would be equally proud to be an outlaw.

Brother of the bow, Crazy Horse

fishing guy said...

Hawk: I know there must be some good reasons for the law but I agree with you. When in a suffering condition the animal should be quickly dispatched.

I hope you had a neat Christmas with Stacey and the boys.

Sandy said...

It always causes me great anguish to see an animal fallen by the roadside. It always brings tears to my eyes and it is something that I will never be able to accept. If I see an animal trying to cross a very busy road, I always offer up a prayer that it either turn back or it will make its way safely.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful, thank you.