Thursday, 7 February 2013

Long Live Future Bambis

Until February the 2nd a deer who had been befriended by members of the Windy Bay Hutterite Colony here in Manitoba, roamed happy and free. About a year ago, the deer was found in a ditch by someone from the colony. They did take it back to the ditch, but the mom never showed up. So they  brought it home, took care of it and treated it as a pet.  Since then the deer has lived around this colony, but not held captive - it was free to come and go, which of course it did. They named him Bambi. Shockingly, Bambi took an unneccasary and rather tragic end.

This story caught the attention of the media, including the Winnipeg Free Press, when some concerned colony member called a Conservation Officer, who dutifully came and made sure that this Bambi lived happily never after. Since then, the shot that killed the deer has been echoing around Manitoba and beyond. This animal was like a pet to all on the colony. And nobody thought that an officer would shoot the deer, not even the person reporting this.The question of the week became: Why was it necessary to kill Bambi in the residencial area, right in front of the people who had taken care of him for almost a year?

I understand the officer's argument, that it's against the law (albeit a rather lax one) to domesticate wild animals, and that he had a job to do, since the deer could pose some dangers. However, he could have been a whole lot more sensitive about it. Why couldn't Bambi have been taken to a park, instead of shooting him? One can't help but wonder, if it's against the law, why is this not enforced in all areas? Deer are fed in a number of residential areas in Winnipeg and other places around Manitoba. When the colony took this deer in, they obviously did it out of concern and wanted to give it a chance at life. Is that so wrong? Especially since there's no wildlife sancuary in Manitoba.

This story resonated with me, as it obviously has with many other Manitobans. We too have had deer at our colony. Abandoned fawns are quite common, especially late in fall. Apparently the doe thinks that her baby has no chance of surviving the winter, so she opts to let nature take care of it. Sometimes caring and well-meaning humans find it and give it the chance the doe couldn't. Which was the case both times we've had deer around our colony. Just like at the above mentioned colony, 'our' deer were not held captive; they were free to come and go as they pleased. Naturally, they were fed and watered, but never fenced in or forced to stay. I find it hard to believe that domesticated deer can not survive in the wild: The one we had the longest, was sometimes gone over a month, before showing up again
One of our fawns was named Bambi as well. We enjoyed seeing him wandering around the colony, contendedly nibbling on grass. But Bambi never understood that flowers weren't dessert, so that sometimes got him in trouble, but thankfully nobody ever drew a gun. It was especially sweet watching him interact with other animals. Sometimes 'our Bambi' would be found napping with the calves. Other times he would try to become friends with a dog.  He was sometimes gone for days or weeks at a time, then came back again. That went on for about two years, till he never returned, most likely because he met up with someone who was hungry for wild meat. Even though the thought of Bambi sizzling in a pan, is not pleasant, at least we didn't have to watch him being shot in our front lawn.

Anyway, back to my original story:

A few days later, common sense and empathy prevailed.

Some good came of Bambi's untimely death. Manitoba's Conservation Minister, Gord Makintosh has changed the way officers will enforce the provincial Wildlife Act in the future; which some have already dubbed as the 'Bambi Law': Conservation Officers will only euthanize animals as a last resort. Further to that, the Minister ordered a review of the incident and stated that the department will offer to meet with colony members to go over what happened last Saturday."It may well have been insensitive to those who were there. I believe we should all demonstrate empathy for the living world." Mackintosh said.

Hopefully, some valuable lessons have been learned all around.

1 comment:

  1. Oh, this hurt my heart at what that officer did. I used to raise fawns, too, when I was in school, so that hit close to home. I am so glad the law has been changed~


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