By Bob Quarteroni
What a waste. What a stupid, senseless waste.
Piled by the side at one of the trailheads of my favorite nature retreat — Frances Slocum State Park in Luzerne County — were the carcasses of a deer and a fisher.
Whomever shot them must have been so proud of his or her “accomplishment” that they dragged them out of the woods and put them on display by the side of the road.
The sickness of this leaves me, simply, furious.
Killing for killing sake, that’s all it is.
There’s no excuse, no rational one anyhow.
Oh, there’s the urban (actually forest) myth that fishers are vicious killers of cats and should be killed on sight.
Richard Kays, curators of mammals at the New York State Museum, decided to look into that when he “started noticing that fishers were taking the blame for cats disappearing all over the Northeast,” as he wrote in the New York Times.
He and his assistant found 25 kill sites and collected diet samples from 24 fishers. “We washed the samples and compared the remaining fur, feathers, and bones with our museum collections to identify the remains. We found a little bit of everything — except cat.”
He’s now studying fresh samples and says “Maybe those samples will have the first physical evidence of a fisher eating a cat, and I can finally believe all these frightening tales about cat-eating fishers. Until then, I’ll remain a skeptic, and keep blaming the coyote.”
The only other possible reason to “harvest” a fisher (a slimy word hunters and their fellow travelers use that I detest when it should simply be the far more accurate kill) is for its fur, and this fisher, beaten up as it was, had its fur intact.
Since fishers are known to stay at deer carcasses indefinitely it’s possible this mad dog first shot the deer and left it there until the fisher found it and then killed it as well, and then – like a cat displaying his killed birds on your door step – drug them out of the woods and put them on display at the side of the road, proud of his perversity and, in his damaged eyes, his prowess as a hunter.
Maybe I’m wrong and we’ll never know for sure, but that’s exactly what it looks like: Killing for killing’s sake. Bad boys with deadly toys showing off, having their twisted, deadly version of fun, a satanic blood sport if there ever was one.
I think I’m especially upset because I’ve never been fortunate enough to see a live fisher. I would be so grateful, so in awe if I could just catch a glimpse of this secretive member of the mustelid (weasel) family, which has been resurrected from the brink of extinction.
They were reintroduced to Pennsylvania in 1994 after being wiped out by trappings and habitat changes, say Game Commission officials.
So it’s an environmental miracle, similar to the successful attempt to restore bald eagle populations in the state. It’s something to applaud and ooh and ah over, not to kill and treat as trash.
Imagine the outrage if a bald eagle had been found like this?
Fishers, being less cuddly and warm and fuzzy aren’t going to get that kind of reaction, but they do from me, and I deeply resent the fact that there’s one less fisher I might see, and one from the park I spend so much time at.
And the deer, a beautiful creature perfectly adapted to the Pennsylvania woods, is no less valuable.
If it had been taken by a licensed hunter it would at least have provided meat and a hide and it would have been “harvested” in a legal manner by someone rational. Now, it’s just goo melting into the road.
What possesses people to kill so wantonly, for no other reason than the fact that they can?
These people are scary. If they can be so unfeeling about innocent animals, who knows how hardened their hearts may be to people as well. Cruelty can fester in a heart and be stoked by barbarous acts, large and small.
And such barbarity can be a sign of worse – much worse – to come.
Nikolas Cruz, who allegedly killed 17 people at a California school last week, “…is said to have talked about shooting small animals, including lizards, frogs, and a neighbor’s chickens….” according to a statement released by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.
I don’t think it’s a bridge too far to think that the Frances Slocum shooter may be headed in the same sick, twisted direction.
“The time will come when men such as I will look upon the murder of animals as they now look upon the murder of men,” Leonardo Da Vinci said.
Based on this abomination, that time is far, far away.