Sunday, September 7, 2008
Death of a Squirrel
I killed a squirrel today.
While working on my woodpile, I turned around to find a very damaged squirrel standing in front of me. Most of the skin had been ripped off one hind leg and a portion of his back. The tail was mangled badly. Most worrisome was the fact that it did not run from me. It did not seem to fear me at all. It actually walked past me, ignoring me, focused on going wherever it was going. It didn't run, it just walked. Not even really limping. It didn't seem dazed really, just gamely walking forward, and I was just one more thing to get past.
Very un-squirrel like behavior.
My best guess is that it was hit by a car, and just wanted to get home to either recover, or die. It was clearly in tremendous pain, but trying to move through it. My first thought was to let nature take it's course. Some predator would find it soon, or it would die on it's own. Then I thought better of it. My youngest daughter was with me, and she had seen the poor creature. We talked for just a second as I explained that I was going to kill the squirrel so that it would not suffer any longer. It would not survive on it's own. I told her to go up into the house. She asked why? I said, "Because I don't want you to see me do it."
As she walked into the house, I selected a good thick oak branch from my woodpile. Making sure she was safely gone, I walked up behind the squirrel and dispatched it with a good solid blow to the head. It wasn't pleasant, but it was the right thing to do. I disposed of the body in the woods, and went to see how my girl was doing. She was with her mom, telling the story. She asked what I had done and I explained it and asked how she felt about it. She said that she was a little sad, but that is was good that the squirrel wasn't hurting anymore. I was a little surprised at her equanimity. I will be listening for other thoughts to come out in the next few days.
So why do I write this on my blog? Mostly because I don't bludgeon living creatures to death on a regular basis - this makes it at least somewhat noteworthy. It occurred to me how fragile and also how stubborn life is. This squirrel was hit by a car, and yet crawled several hundred yards in an attempt to reach safety and rest. That's stubborn.
Yet, it was a quick job to kill it when it came down to it. I know it would not be so quick with an uninjured squirrel. I'm not sure I could get one if I tried, except with a gun. But it was small, and vulnerable and fragile. Such death occurs all around us all day long. I normally carry on oblivious. Not today.