By Rebecca Dmytryk
This may turn out to be a bit more of an opinionated piece than a straightforward account... This rescue left me pissed and sad...
It was close to 10:00 AM when WES received a information about a skunk caught in netting at the Landmark Elementary School in Watsonville. Apparently it was caught in a soccer goal, and a game was about to start. I told the reporting party to keep the area clear of people and as quiet as possible.
Duane and I were on scene in about 40 minutes. A kids soccer game was underway. Yelling, cheering, coaches' whistles, just a few yards away from the poor skunk - its front left paw caught in a heavy-duty snap trap and tangled in the netting.
The soccer game continued as we slowly approached the animal and Duane began cutting away the netting. Chirp-chirp-chirrrrp from a whistle, parents yelling, coaches barking just yards away from us trying to help this poor animal in distress.
Were the children really not interested in watching a wild animal get rescued? Were the adults that insensitive? Was this just an inconvenience to them?
This could have been an amazing learning experience for the children (and adults). What a great opportunity to teach about humanity, compassion, respect for other living things. But the game went on...
...until I couldn't take one more blast from that damned whistle!
Unnerved, I tried to ask as nicely as possible if they would please stop for five minutes... just give us five minutes of quiet.
Remarkably, they stopped.
It only took a couple of minutes before we had the skunk free... his paw, deformed from the powerful jaws of the trap.
Scruffed and bundled, we carried him across the field to the rescue truck, nodding to the few spectators who applauded our work. (Thank you!)
A chirp from the whistle and the game was back on again.
We delivered the skunk to Native Animal Rescue's skunk rehabilitator, Monique, where he will be examined and treated for his injuries, and, with luck, he'll be returned to the wild.
Hoping the skunk makes a full recovery, I am less optimistic about our recovery... recovery from what we have become. We've lost something. We're not as kind and forgiving, or tolerant or accepting as we used to be, it seems. When it comes to just the very basic knowledge of our natural world, we're incredibly lacking. Just the other day, someone tried to tell me a spider was not an animal.
How did we get here? More importantly, how do we recover?
Children are born curious and open-minded, waiting to explore the world - they aren't born fearful... they learn it. They learn to have compassion. They learn to express empathy. Parents, teach your children well. Take a moment every day to kindness.