I suppose that if life's lessons were easy, they would last a day or two rather than a lifetime. Life's lessons, instead, must be so visceral that we cannot ever again deny them so that they effectively become part of our being. I share this story in the hope that this one person's life lesson prevents others from hurting through ignorance.
It was a beautiful Sunday morning that was abruptly interrupted by the following (annotated) voice message, "Good Morning, Dawn, this is (name omitted). Ugh, it’s 9:30 Sunday. Um, I accidentally shot a beautiful grey squirrel in our front yard in Glencoe....He is not dead. He is still living and, um, I feel very very bad that I shot him. I went meant to scare him with buckshot and I ended up shooting him....Thank you.”
The caller was unable to transport the squirrel to us and we were unable to pick him up. We, therefore, enlisted the help of Glencoe Animal Control. After evaluating the squirrel, the animal control officer determined that the squirrel, which in addition to other wounds had an entry wound just below one eye, needed to be euthanized. As a result, the squirrel's suffering ended and he never made it to us at Flint Creek Wildlife.
The caller explained that squirrels had been eating seed at his bird feeder. I say put out extra seed.
Glencoe confiscated the caller's Daisy Red Ryder BB Gun. The caller stated that his shooting days are over....
This incident hearkens back to other similar incidents like Red Ryder, the Fox Squirrel that was shot in the face with an air rifle by a high school boy in Barrington. We saved Red Ryder's life, but even with pain medication his suffering those first days was almost unfathomable.
Had these individuals been taught respect for all living things, perhaps they wouldn't have been shooting at squirrels in the first place. Instead, they would have realized that squirrels are living, breathing creatures that experience pain and that will likely die when shot - even with an air rifle or with a BB gun.
These unfortunate situations raise opportunities to educate the public about gun laws. Shooting an air rifle within most village limits is illegal and shooting at wildlife, except for certain species and ONLY when covered by government issued hunting permits, is also illegal.
As educators, we must ask ourselves how to most effectively turn this tragedy into something positive. It is clear that Flint Creek Wildlife must tell these stories in the hope of avoiding a similar situation in the future. And so we will....
As human beings and parents, we must use other's life lessons as learning and teaching opportunities. And so I respectfully ask for your help....