Roadkill fawn a reminder of hunting’s place in today’s society
Heather Franklin is not a hunter. In fact, she is avidly against anyone who is one.
Franklin once asked: “How could any decent person look into the lifeless eyes of an innocent animal he or she just killed and ever want to hunt again?”
Good question, Ms. Franklin.
It’s too bad you weren’t with me on my way home from work approximately a month ago. There’s something you should have seen. There’s a question I would have asked you.
Along a windy country road, across from a new development still under construction, I spotted a small fawn.
Its tiny brown body was sprawled out on the side of the street, dotted with the typical white spots a whitetail fawn is known for – but also laced with darkening blood splatter and swarms of flies. The little deer’s mouth was gaping open and its tongue hung out.
To most motorists, the tragic scene barely registered on the peripheral radar screen while rushing to the next doctor appointment, soccer practice or shopping spree.
Nobody was stopping. Nobody took a few extra moments to check the scene out more closely. Nobody saw the dark, lifeless eyes of the little fawn that would never have the chance to mature into adulthood, rub fresh velvet off its antlers or experience the thrill of a late-season rut.
Actually, Ms. Franklin, one person did stop.
I couldn’t avoid it. I needed to see the fawn up close. I saw the carnage and I immediately thought of you. I thought of your comment, and I just couldn’t help but wonder what you would say if you could look into those lifeless, fly-covered eyes of one of nature’s most innocent of creatures.
How could any decent person witness such a scene and ever want to drive again?
The fawn is one of millions of deer that succumb to vehicle-related accidents every year in our country. Statistically, it makes me wonder what the numbers show in animals that die on our roadways vs. those who are taken as humanely as possible by legions of responsible, conservation-minded hunters who do whatever they can to make sure their quarry doesn’t suffer in the process.
Most everyone who drives a car inevitably experiences a roadkill situation at one point or another. An indecisive squirrel. An oblivious opossum. We do what we can to avoid the impact – some drivers do so for the animal’s sake, others are more worried about damaging their cars. Either way, in the rat race society we all live in, the animals who scurry out on the road typically find themselves pretty far down the priority list for many drivers.
And it doesn’t stop at roadkills.
Like it or not, we all negatively affect nature in one way or another. The fawn I saw last month was killed across from a new development – land that was previously a small woodlot next to a few open fields.
The property was once the perfect place for a young deer family to hide out. Now, amidst the townhouses, bulldozers and updated landscaping, there is little room for wildlife.
A decade ago, the deer population in Pennsylvania was much more robust. You didn’t need to be a hunter to notice that, either. A drive down Route 80 through the Poconos offer quick confirmation.
There was a road-killed deer at nearly every mile marker – countless mutilated animals that were left to suffer in ditches. Many situations where families were put in danger as a deer, bear or other critter stepped in front of their vehicles in the middle of the night.
Thanks mainly to hunters, our roadways today are much safer and there is less competition within the ranks of wildlife for the dwindling resources we leave behind for them.
Plus, the animals that are harvested by hunters each year are typically killed as humanely as possible – it is part of the fabric of hunter morals and ethics that are taught at a very young age.
Critters that are hit by speeding vehicles typically have a much more painful demise.
In most cases, the meat that hunters harvest is used to feed local families and the free-range aspect of freshly harvested wildlife is much healthier than some of the options we find at the supermarket and fast-food chains.
Carcasses from animals killed along the roadsides typically are left to rot in a ditch or be picked clean by buzzards, crows and other carrion.
Ultimately, we all have a direct effect on our natural surroundings and the wildlife that lives there. How we impact those resources is a matter of personal conviction.
So, Ms. Franklin, before you chastise those who hunt, take a moment to consider the big picture. If you need some visual stimulation, check out the cell phone picture above that I took of the fawn who didn’t make it safely across the street.
Specifically, look deep into what’s left of the innocent fawn’s lifeless eyes.