Saturday, December 17, 2016

River dance

Something told the wild geese

It was time to go,

Though the fields lay golden,

Something whispered, "snow."

               ~Rachel Field

The river calls in winter. 
Everybody meets up on the icy shores of the Platte where we talk and dance and listen to the woodpecker's 
song. I can barely make out the two mule deer across the river, camouflaged in a tangle of branches with their noses under the snow. Two of the largest bald eagles I have ever seen launched out of a cottonwood tree, made a circle and then flew off. 
Mallard ducks with their green heads and tangerine legs waddle and hop in and out of the erratic current. 
It was snowing so heavily! Big, wet flakes blew sideways in the wind. It was all a blur.
And then I saw her.
A pure white Snow goose dragging her broken, black-tipped wing across the ice.
I was devastated. She looked defeated and forlorn.
It seems like every time I come down to the river I see something tragic. Last February I found that long-necked Canadian goose with a bloody bullet in the chest, lying dead in the snow, remember?
A woman I know spends a lot of time walking or riding her mustang along the riverbanks of this state park. The day before my outing she had posted some pictures of a beautiful red fox she had seen. That's actually why I had decided to go there myself. I wanted a glimpse of the red fox that stood out in all that winter white.
I never did get to lay eyes on that lovely creature. But, the woman who had seen the fox went back to the river the next day. This time she heard a rustling in the bushes and a painful cry. There was the red fox struggling in a steel-jaw leghold trap!
On her cell phone she called the game warden and he arrived at the scene. Supposedly, as the officer approached the trapped animal, the fox became nervous and scared, then in a panic, apparently freed his own leg from the metal clamp and ran away. The only evidence left at the scene was a tuft of fur.
All four paw tracks were confirmed in the snow upon his departure, and no sign of blood. That's the story, anyway.
I told Chad what had happened and he said that no animal could withstand that type of injury and survive. I know he is probably right. But, in this case, I hope there is a chance that the fox is hunting and pouncing and successfully bringing back rabbits to his family and is curled up in a warm den somewhere. 
I am confidant that all activity in the park will be watched and monitored more closely now. I hope the trap(s) have been taken away and identified and that the owner of such a cruel device will be punished. What that person did is illegal, violent and unnecessary.
The practice of trapping fur bearing animals should be outlawed. Our wild animals must be protected!