Posted: Friday, January 28, 2022. 4:51 pm CST.
Photo Credit: Belize Bird Rescue
By Nikki Buxton, Managing Director, Belize Bird Rescue
Working in the field of bird rescue, we are often confronted with horrific injuries caused by car strikes, cat and dog attacks, or window collisions. But by far the most difficult and distressing are those injuries inflicted by pellet guns or slingshot injuries. Not because they are necessarily more severe, but because at its core is the casual intent of a human being to cause harm to an innocent creature.
Life is hard enough for a migrant bird, travelling thousands of miles to escape the cold of the north to find food and warmth in beautiful Belize. But imagine travelling all that distance, arriving exhausted after days or weeks of hazardous flight, only to be targeted by a bored youth with a new toy gun or slingshot. If the bird is lucky, he will die cleanly and swiftly. But usually they are not so fortunate, and are painfully maimed. We at Belize Bird Rescue are left trying to repair the damage, or humanely finish the work of the shooter.
Our colleagues involved in the rescue of other species have similar stories. Crocodiles, monkeys, iguanas, racoons, and so many other species regularly fall victim to this thoughtless hobby. Trying to save a blinded parrot, or a hawk with his body deliberately and cruelly shot full of pellets is soul destroying work.
Target shooting should be fun, and for sure it is fun, when the target is not a living, breathing creature. We urge anyone using any form of weapon for entertainment to turn their skills to inanimate targets. Not only is this a quick and easy way to hone your target-shooting skills, it’s repeatable, which means you can compete fairly amongst friends to find the ultimate champion. Tin cans on a post, swinging fruits on a string, distance shooting, speed shooting, target accuracy with paper targets – these are all superb ways to challenge yourself, prove your skill and identify the winner.
Please, when you next contemplate shooting a live animal, spare a thought for the bird’s mate or his offspring who are now left to fend for themselves. Think about the fear and pain you’ll inflict, just for a moment of thrill-seeking. Remember that all wildlife is protected and you are breaking the law and could be fined or go to jail if you’re caught. Consider the people who dedicate their lives to preserving and protecting wildlife, or those who get immense pleasure or even earn a living just by observing birds and animals in the wild. Think about the hurt and harm you cause in the name of a fleeting moment of fun, and maybe think about finding some friends, setting up some targets, and enjoy a day’s entertainment participating in a real sport!
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