Last Thursday, I got a frantic call after dawn from my spouse who, while bike riding in Sun City Center, had come upon an injured sandhill crane struggling to stand after being struck by some kind of vehicle. It was discovered on the side of West Del Webb Boulevard, just east of Emerald Lake Drive. Whoever hit this beautiful bird failed to stop and left it there, presumably, to die.
Heartsick, I immediately called Nancy Murrah, founder of the Raptor Rescue of Tampa Bay. Despite dealing with an emergency of her own, she then called Robin Roberts, one of her local, trained volunteers, and asked her to pick up the crane and take it to Blue Pearl in Brandon.
Although it could barely move, the bird was somehow able to get itself onto the grass of a nearby lawn where it sat very calmly as people gathered ‘round. There was blood on the sidewalk, but the bird seemed quite alert. We had hope the poor thing could be treated and rehabilitated.
The next morning I received word the bird was too injured and had to be humanely euthanized. I was extremely sad and at the same time angry for what I felt was yet another needless loss of a threatened animal species due to human negligence.
I don’t know who actually hit the bird or why. It could have been someone in a golf cart or car, someone who wasn’t mindful about what was ahead, someone who couldn’t see very well or react quickly enough. While cranes can actually fly up to 35 mph, they walk very deliberately and slowly. You’d have to be asleep at the wheel, texting or otherwise engaged to actually hit one.
Cranes walk through our neighborhoods up to 15 miles a day eating bugs, vegetation, snakes and the like, gracing us with their presence. They do us no harm. The least we can do is be mindful of them and return the favor.
We live in Florida, folks, and due to its rampant over-development, we share our roadways with all kinds of wildlife who have nowhere to go but into our paths. We’re paving over their natural habitats and giving them no choice but to enter our neighborhoods and try to co-exist with us. They have just as much right to be here as we do.
I read somewhere recently that the world could not survive without the flora and fauna in it, but it could definitely go on without us. It behooves us then as humans to be more humble about our role on this planet and show greater compassion and respect for all living beings.
Lois Kindle is a freelance writer and columnist for The Observer News. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org/.