Hunters love animals....and not just on the dinner plate. Last week I was driving my son to school on County Road 6 in Orono when something caught my eye on the side of the road. It looked like a small owl sitting about 4 feet from traffic. It was upright and alive but obviously in trouble. I dropped off my son and went back to take a look. What I found was a Northern Saw-whet Owl that likely had a collision with a car that broke its wing and injured its eye.
I called the Orono PD and the raptor center at the U of M seeking advice. Orono PD dispatched a Community Service Officer who collected the owl and made arrangments to get it to the Rapter center. Being a hunter has given me a better appreciation of nature and helped make me a better steward of our natural resources....which is probably why I noticed the owl on the road in the first place. I received a call the next day the owl had its wing broken in two places and its eye was destroyed in the accident. With no chance of survival the owl was euthanized. It's too bad he couldn't make it but I'm reminded that as stewards of natural resources our responsiblity is to the species and not necessarily the individual animal. I saw a great sign in western MN last week that made a similary point: Animal Respect: Yes. Animal Worship: No. By killing a deer or taking a limit of pheasants I'm not hurting the population. On the contrary, I'm helping managing the resource and making a valuable financial contribution to its on-going success.
My hunting experiences have strenthened my bond with nature. And we hunters put our money where our passion is which leads to conservation and preservation of habitat and species. So go forward and hunt with pride this weekend. Our natural resources depend in it!