A "species of concern" Shot For The Fun Of It
X-ray of an injured loon that suffered 6 pellets to the under part of it's body. (Property of Tufts University)
More often than not I get that itch to sneak out of the office, drop whatever it is that's weighing me down at my desk and get out into the field to directly help animals. Every so often I get emails reporting on animal abuse, people asking for help, what should they do about their neighbor that's not feeding their dogs. Nothing else really seems to matter when I get those emails. Of course I try to help as much as I can and as much as my role as an emergency relief responder will allow.
So, when I'm not responding to disasters, or training to respond in disasters, the one commitment I do make a week is to volunteer at a wildlife rehabilitation center, just so that I can get that hands-on-saving-lives-experience (and get out of the office!). The center is called Wildcare, which is also sponsored by IFAW.
This past week at Wildcare the director, Lela Larned informed me of the recent rescue of a frost-bitten loon. (A loon is a federally protected bird species that inhabits the Cape.) The female actually appears to be doing well, and will most likely have a much happier ending than a loon that came into rehab several months ago...
Lela has seen just about everything possible in wildlife rehab, but there are still situations that hit hard and are difficult to grasp. One example is the morning an injured loon came into Wildcare that had been found and rescued on a local Cape Cod beach. What was so heartbreaking about this arrival was the fact the loon had been shot in midair...but was still alive.
A necropsy later on would report that the loon had been shot 6 times (X-ray photo). How was it possible that this animal was still alive?
This is the bitter reality of what careless hunting can lead to. All the steel pellets that were found in the loons body were located ventrally, meaning the loon was clearly shot while flying. The average individual, let alone the "professional" hunter would undoubtedly be able to identify a loon in the sky. It is unmistakable. This loon's life was taken for pure sport and humor.
Thanks to Tufts University and the Seanet Project, we have been given these necropsy results and are able to speculate on the cause of death. It's now up to us, the concerned audience to share these results.