Tuesday, March 8, 2011

No Laughing Matter

(About the Photos - a stock photo of a Peregrine and the picture I took of the wounded bird in the floor of my car.)

Monday morning, March 7, 2011, started with me driving Fonzy to Carlton to have his stitches removed. But what happened along the way to Carlton made the rest of the day surreal.

Traveling along Hwy 240 in the morning at 8:15 am one must be alert. Travelers who obey the speed limit will be passed by cars in a hurry.

About 200 feet past Williamson Road I saw something small standing by the side of the road. Releasing my foot from the gas pedal I slowed down and saw a Peregrine falcon wobbling on the edge of the pavement.

With Wade's wise words ringing in my ears (Don't kill yourself trying to save an animal.) I made my way to the first driveway where I could safely turn around.

My mind was racing with plans as how to safely capture him without getting injured. They have sharp talons and beaks, and even though my intentions were honorable, he wouldn't know that.

As I approached the bird's location another car was speeding along. As the car approached the birds location the bird began to walk into the road.

Screaming for the bird to stop the car's momentum caught the bird and whirled it back onto the gravel where the bird lay still. Turning around at Williamson Rd. I inched myself back to the scene and saw this beautiful bird laying very still.

It was obvious from what I first saw that this bird had been injured. By what I was not sure. But the final blow surely came at the hands of that unsuspecting (and rather dull) driver.

Determining that death was certain, I made my way to my destination, Carlton Veterinary Clinic.

As I drove I thought of my friend at George Fox University, Don Powers. I was pretty certain that he could find a use for this bird and that perhaps it's death could be used to educate the students in his classes.

I called Don's assistant, Jane Sweet. She returned my call while I was in the vet's office, affirming my assumption that Don would like the bird.

Now my mission was not a rescue mission but rather a, what do they call it? Recovery mission.

I made my way into Williamson Road where road workers were setting up shop. I turned around and put my car on the side of the road. Gathering a few newspapers that happened to be in my car, I made my way to the lifeless bird.

As I got closer I realized that death had not made it's final sting. This gallant fellow was breathing. "You're alive!" Tears came to my eyes as I reached down with my hands, letting the newspapers fall to into the ditch. I carefully picked him up and made my way back to my car.

The remaining newspapers that were on the floor of the passenger seat served as a resting place. I took one of the pages and laid it over the top of his body to provide a barrier to the light and my presence.

Recovery mission urgently becomes a rescue mission. My first thought...where do I take a federally protected bird of prey?

I called Jane Sweet. She became my ally in this quest.

Two of the veterinary offices she called (not the one in Carlton) in Newberg were unhelpful. While Jane was on the phone with her calls I was calling 411 to call the Fish and Game department in Salem. After several recorded messages I finally left one.

My next call was to Newberg-Dundee Police - NOT 911 - but the business office.

Finally a helpful person gave me the phone number for the Audobon Society in Portland.

Nancy, a volunteer, agreed to meet me in King City for the exchange.

Although she suggested that I put 'Perry' in a box, I couldn't find one so I settled on a large towel. I dropped Fonzy off at home, grabbed the towel, and headed out to King City.

When I gave him to Nancy the brave bird was still alive. The rest of the day was a blur as I couldn't get this animal out of my mind.

As promised, Nancy phoned later that afternoon with an update. Sadly, our little fellow passed away soon after arriving in the parking lot of the rehabilitation center in North Portland. Nancy indicated that a post-mortem exam would be performed to determine cause of death. Again the tears came, softly. If only I had been able to rescue him before the car hit him.

Around 5 pm I received a call from someone else at the Audobon Society. The results from the exam were in. Not only did the bird have several injuries from blunt force trauma (the car) but he had also been shot. Murdered. Senselessly killed by someone. A human.

I am pretty sure that most of you don't even know what a Peregrine Falcon is! Read this!

This afternoon I received a call from an officer with the Fish and Game department. Since Peregrines are federal protected, this bird's death becomes a legal issue.

Peregrines are protected under the Federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

If we find the person(s) who shot this bird they could face a fine of $100,000.00 and up to six months in jail.

With my 'critical incident response training' from work I was ready to give this officer details. Time of day, exact location, state of the bird prior to the car hitting it, geographic area and who lived in the area (Oakhurst Farms) that might have seen or heard something.

In my minds eye I see this beautiful creature soar and dive. I see him flying high and catching a thermal as he hoovers over the trees and fields looking for food. His love and care for his mate and young as he brings food back to the nest.

has a huge investment in this lovely animal.

I keep in mind that humans too are murdered and mistreated all over the world. This fact keeps me looking at this bird's demise in perspective. The fact remains that many humans do not value life.

I believe that God is the creator of human and animal kind. God made me to care about both. I can't help it.

Perhaps heaven will be a place where we all can enjoy rather than destroy God's creation.

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