Nature isn’t all dew drops and rainbows


The shriek was the sort that could stop a Justin Verlander fastball. It shot through the house like lightning through a dark, stormy night sky.

My daughter had gone outside ahead of me. I was getting a few tools before following her out. Her scream was enough to make my heartbeat flatten out like a rope off the bat of Albert Pujols.

As my feet carried me at Warp speed towards the door, my mind raced. Did she come across a snake sunning itself on our asphalt driveway? Was she trapped in the corner by a hungry black bear or surrounded by a few angry carpenter bees?

Instead, I found my daughter kneeling on the ground, visibly shaken and not sure what to do. Below her cowered a tiny baby rabbit. In the distance, our outside cat, skulked just out of reach. It was obvious that he was a little annoyed my daughter intervened in what he was planning for a nice late-day dinner.

The bunny trembled. A little bit of blood dripped down its back. My daughter wanted to take it inside the house, wrap it in warm blankets and doctor it back to health as a new pet.

And I found myself in one of those parenting dilemmas that surface when you least expect them – in a situation where the optimistic innocence of a young child comes into the direct firing line of the cruel, unforgiving world.

Nature isn’t all dewdrops and rainbows, and neither is real life. But how do you explain that to a small child? That more baby bunnies die than survive in an ecosystem filled with coyotes, cats, foxes, speeding vehicles and other inherent dangers.

Not to mention the legal issues of taking in a wild animal. There are strict guidelines against taking in anything short of a domesticated animal. From songbirds to red-tailed hawks — field mice to black bears – you can not Bambi-ify nature as much as it would calm the trembling hearts of a young girl who wants every baby bunny to live into bunny retirement age.

We carefully moved the baby bunny from our driveway into a small box using gloves to minimize exposing it to human odor. We wiped the blood with a paper towel until it stopped on its own. We carried the box to several wild rabbit holes on a hillside near our house, and released the baby bunny into one of the holes.

My daughter didn’t want to walk away. To leave it there until we saw its mother and father embrace it with furry paws. Instead, I told her we needed to walk away.

Did the baby bunny survive?

Probably not.

Call me a coward, but I just couldn’t bring myself to explain that to my daughter. Not this time.

Unfortunately, that time will come soon enough, whether I want to admit it or not.

Email comments to jzaktansky@dailyitem.com. If you find injured wildlife, leave it alone and report it to the Pennsylvania Game Commission by visiting http://www.pgc.state.pa.us

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~ by zaktansky on April 16, 2012.

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