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Heart’s unEase

Heart's unEase

The great blue heron in the picture, if you look closely, is dragging it’s right wing. The picture was taken two days ago, on the shoreline at Canton Lake, Oklahoma. The bird’s wing is broken. The photographer watched as the bird came out to pick up dead fish along the lake’s edge, and saw two coyotes simply pass by the bird. At dusk the bird was seen to enter the nearby treeline to take refuge for the night. She saw the bird again the next day, in the same location. Upon seeing the picture, which was posted and identified on a website, my heart sank and I felt a great sorrow. The question immediately came up – what can be done for this beautiful, wild creature so obviously in distress? Several viewers of the website upon which the picture was placed expressed sympathy for the bird. Knowing that there is a wildlife rehabilitation center in the state, over 100-miles away, I went online hoping to find a representative closer to this location. Luckily, there is. That person is located in a town only 45-miles away. When I reached only a phone-message machine, I became a bit discouraged, imagining what the heron was facing that night. At daybreak this morning, I received a call from the rescue person, and she too expressed great concern for the welfare of the bird. We both had to face the stark and unwelcome reality that there wasn’t much to be done for a bird whose wing had been in a broken state for an extended period of time – at least one day, and probably more. It is possible to rehabilitate some birds found in such a state, but it is extremely difficult to safely catch such a large bird without causing extreme distress to the animal and/or more physical damage. We were willing to try, but first put in a call to the local game warden. He advised that we not try to catch the bird, but promised to call the game warden who is responsible for regulating the area around Canton Lake, since it is in another county. That was done, and now I’m left with only questions – Should I have done more? Should I have tried to capture the bird and brought it to an avian veterinarian? Could they have done anything for this injured animal? I’ll probably never know for sure and it leaves me with a deep feeling of unease. What I do know is that, in response to the experience, I’ve set in motion the process of becoming a licensed wildlife rescuer myself. In Oklahoma one must have a state license to practice wildlife rehabilitation for small furry animals and small birds. In order to work with big animals and birds, one must have a federal license. First things first – we’ll begin with the smaller creatures.

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