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Nature can be cruel.

The City Police issued a public warning, today, advising residents in the Third Line-Stratchclair area of a three-legged sow bear with cubs. The warning was not just that the bears were in the area, but that they should not be approached .

The City Police issued a public warning, today, advising residents in the Third Line-Stratchclair area of a three-legged sow bear with cubs.

The warning was not just that the bears were in the area, but that they should not be approached.

It seems that a very well-meaning individual spotted the three-legged bear and thought it might be injured and needed assistance.

Fortunately, this concerned citizen was not injured in this encounter.

The Police advise that this bear has been wandering in the City’s east and north ends for about three years now, and is not in need of assistance.

The comments following the story contain, as has become too usual, remarks which berate this concerned individual; remarks that are completely uncalled-for.

Yes, some of us are more aware of how to handle wildlife encounters. That does not mean that those who don’t deserve scorn and ridicule.

While many of us accept that Sault Ste Marie is just a town plunked down in the middle of the woods, for many others it is a “city,” and to them wildlife exists “out in the bush.”

Of course, an aerial view of the Sault shows that the bush significantly intrudes into the built-up areas of the city, a feature that many of us appreciate, especially when compared to the treeless cookie-cutter subdivisions found in southern Ontario.

Link to satellite map:

There are increasing reports of wildlife being “rescued” in the media: a baby moose in Saskatchewan, wolf cubs in Alaska, ducklings in Denver.

All these rescues are certainly well-intentioned, but are they appropriate?

“But they would have died!” some of you will say.

Yes, they most likely would have. And that is sad, but it is also a fact of life.

There are animals that feed on dead animals.

A couple of summers ago, I watched as about a dozen turkey vultures gathered in the trees on Landslide hill, waiting to make a meal of a skunk that and been hit and killed by a car.

Turkey Vultures (also called “Buzzards”) almost never attack live prey. They eat carrion — dead animals.

Other animals hunt the slow and the weak; coyotes and wolves and other predators will track and kill the slowest of a herd of dear, whether they are young or ill. 

They will also seek out dens and nests and take baby animals.

Predators also eat abandoned baby animals; these babies could have been abandoned for a number of reasons.

This often seems seems very unsettling to us humans. We would much prefer that animals were more, uh… humane with each other.

Nature can be cruel, though.

Left to their own devices, the animal kingdom does well enough. 

Wolves were hunted almost to extinction in Canada. As a result, deer populations thrived — perhaps too much so. Farmers will tell you their fields are overrun with deer, and the damage done to their crops is significant.

The wolf bounty was discontinued in 1972, thanks in no small part to the efforts of the late Jim Curran, former owner of the Sault Daily Star, who actively spoke to dispel myths concerning the wolf — he offered a reward of $100 to anyone who claimed to have been bitten by a wolf, a reward which was never claimed.

Wolves and Coyotes are returning to the area. 

Yes, people have lost cats and small dogs to these predators. In part this is due to a sense of complacency, that living “in the city” means there are no predators to worry about.

Wolves, coyotes and other predators help to keep the animal population in balance. In a hard winter, a lack of food will reduce populations of both predator and prey.

It tugs at the heart strings to think about animals who are abandoned, especially babies. But nature operates under a different set of rules than we do: survival of the fittest.

I believe Disneyfication is partly to blame for the increased interest in “rescuing” wildlife. The anthropomorphic characterization of everything from mice to bears to lions and giraffes has given us a sense that all animals are possessed of a kindred spirit to humans, and but for the lack of the act speech would communicate directly with us.

Bears are not “cute and cuddly,” with all due apologies to A A Milne.

I am not saying that if you stumble across an injured animal it shouldn’t be cared for, but… think, first, about the life this animal will lead if rescued.

Perhaps, instead of trying to remedy whatever ailment it has — broken leg or wing, or what have you — it should be humanely destroyed.

Much as we may want to — and much as some individuals have — we cannot keep wild animals as pets. 

Certainly they can be rehabilitated and released back into the wild, but this needs to be done by trained and experienced wildlife rehabilitation specialists.

Have you seen the video of the family that kept a baby rabbit they had found, nursed it back to health, and released it only to have a hawk swoop down and carry it away in front of their eyes?

If you haven’t seen it, here it is:

WARNING — some viewers may find this disturbing.

Nature can be cruel.

There is another video of a mother duck herding her young toward a reservoir. A guy with a camera follows them, and another guy talks to him as the ducks approach the water.

A hawk swoops down and takes two of the ducklings. Both men are upset and angry with the hawk.

Folks, this is how nature works. 

When I worked at the water plant in Mississauga, we often had ducks and geese nest on the property — several acres of grass surrounding the buildings attracted flocks of waterfowl.

One year a goose built a nest on top of one of the filter buildings. I can only imagine being 3 metres above the ground seemed a safer location to the mother.

I was watching one day after they had hatched and were ready to leave the nest. Mother Goose hopped up onto the  knee wall, then dropped to the ground. All but one of the young goslings were able to follow her. 

Unfortunately, Mama had waited as long as she dared, and decided that it was time to lead the others to water. She left the last one behind.

I went out an helped the little one up onto the knee wall, and he bravely tumbled to the grass. He followed along the track they left, but I never did see if he caught up or not.

He may have been taken by a predator — cat, seagull, crow, hawk.

Its funny, in a way, how we view different animals.

No one is upset when a hawk swoops down and grabs a mouse or a vole. But when it’s something “cute” like a baby rabbit or a duckling, people are upset.

Sometimes, we just have to stand back and let Nature take its course.


But… that’s just my opinion.