Dear tourists: the bison calf is not cold and it is not lost. PUT IT BACK!

As usual, it has been a tough week for wildlife in the United States.  In addition to the tourists who kidnapped a baby bison at Yellowstone and put it into their van, to a couple on Cape Cod who rescued a wild baby turkey from the clutches of a red-tailed hawk  and then raised it like a pet, to the personal sadness resulting from someone approaching me on the Sandy River Delta complaining that our tree planting restoration will limit the amount of area where dogs can play, I believe we may have a difficult time not superimposing our intense feelings for tame pets onto wild creatures.

When we think of dogs and cats, we relate most closely with our own household animals as precious individuals.  When we see a wild animal, perhaps in our mind we separate that one from the rest of the herd, pack or family, not understanding that while all life is precious, it is the population that is vital to the welfare of the species.

British author Roger Scruton says it better:  “Love for animals is only exceptionally love for an individual animal. I love the wild animals on our farm but few of them are really individuals for me. It is the presence of bullfinches – not of any particular bullfinch – that delights me.

One neighbour’s dog is free to run in the hedgerows and out into the fields. This dog sniffs for quarry and, when it finds something, gives chase. In the winter, when birds are hidden under leaves, conserving their energy as best they can, they cannot easily survive being chased every day.

The difference is that the dog goes home to a warm house and a supper consisting largely of other animals which have been pressed into a tin, while its quarry goes hungry, trying to recover from the shock and weakened for its next encounter.”

Dogs are not coyotes or wolves; house tabbies are not bobcats or mountain lions.  When domestic animals encounter wild animals, many unfortunate consequences can result including injury or death, transfer of disease, injury to you or your pet from the wild creature, and the uprooting of the wild animal from its home.  And taking what mistakenly appears to be an orphaned, sick or in the case of the bison (“cold” animal) home is simply disasterous for everyone.  The folks who brought a fox kit home later turned it in to a wildlife rehab center did not have a clue that due to an inadequately nutritional diet, the fox became blind.  Touching a deer fawn insures that its mother will not take it back because of human scent. Raising a wolf/hybrid is difficult at best, and if released it into the wild it will most likely starve to death or because of its familiarity with people may be involved in depredation incidents resulting in a wolf being unfairly blamed.

Let’s keep the wild things alive by leaving them alone, giving them space, and keeping them out of our cars.  ~