It’s a number that’s nearly impossible to pin down: the number of wild animals injured and killed by automobiles. Seldomly reported, rarely found, the victims of collisions with vehicles number at least in the millions each day in the United States alone – globally that number must be in the billions. And that number probably doesn’t include the babies back in the den, or in the nest, who slowly die when their parent doesn’t return.
Needless to say, many victims survive the impact suffering from injuries that can take hours or even days to kill them. The casual slaughter of our wild neighbors is disregarded to the point that many people don’t even see the few victims who are dead or struggling by the side of the road.
Happily, there are some people in this world with wide open eyes and compassion in their hearts.
Two weeks ago, a young man from Hoopa, Damien Scott, was traveling Highway 299 when he saw this Turkey Vulture* (Cathartes aura) struggling in the road, near Blue Lake. Damien is no stranger to wildlife in trouble. For the last several years his mother, Kim, has worked with Humboldt Wildlife Care Center, helping us with wildlife in need in the Hoopa and Willow Creek area. Damien was a young teenager when Kim started working with us.
Now an adult, Damien acted quickly and safely, scooping the injured Vulture from the pavement and wrapping her securely for transport.
Typically a large bird like a Turkey Vulture doesn’t fare too well in collision with speeding cars and trucks. This one was luckier than most. A serious abrasion at her right hock (corresponds to our ankle) and gurgling sound in her upper respiratory tract were the only abnormalities that we found during her admission exam.
Many people slander the Turkey Vulture: that’s simply ignorance talking. She’s a magnificent bird.
Her hock laceration, although serious, was easily treated. The gurgling sound in her breath was soon revealed to be a small amount of blood. No doubt she’d been hit by a vehicle, somehow escaping without a single broken bone.
Food, rest, wound treatment and time were all she would need.
After two weeks, the Vulture was ready to go home.
When a bird is flying this well inside the aviary, you can really begin to feel optimistic about her prognosis!
Out of the carrier and into a second chance at wild freedom!
No more boxes! Not even the frame of a photograph will contain her!
Upon release she flew immediately up into a high perch in a tree
From the tree tops this patient can survey her home area, recover her normal point of view, and relax from the stress of being held captive. And then begin her regualr life where it was so rudely interrupted.
This Turkey Vulture was lucky. A quick-thinking observant young man acted with compassion and intelligence. There is no doubt that had she stayed in the road, she likely would have died, possibly after being struck again. Even though her injuries were easily treated, she still needed the safety and seclusion of an aviary for her to recover.
Our world will always need what this bird was provided. Compassionate and concerned young people and the resources to give that concern and compassion a place in the real world to do what is needed. Your support is the critical component. Without you compassion is a curse and concern is an ache that can’t be soothed. With you, they are the the fuel of our commitments. Thank you for supporting our work.
[We need you! Our busiest time of year is fast approaching. Help us prepare for baby season! We need to raise $25,000 by May 31 2017 in order to meet the challenge of raising hundreds of wild orphaned babies. Please help. Donate here. Thank you!]
All photos: Bird Ally X