By Carol Albright
I live on a large property bordering the Sawkill River in
Woodstock, NY, which is clearly and densely marked with “NO TRESPASSING or
HUNTING” signs. Unfortunately, the signs have not deterred poachers; despite
my many calls to the police, no one has ever been arrested. This afternoon I
paused while I was bringing in wood to watch a group of deer cross my
driveway. To my horror, one lively young deer had an arrow sticking straight
out of one of his haunches. I ran back to the house and called all the phone
numbers that I had, but only Wildlife Watch answered and referred me
to several people who work with deer.
I also called the NYS Department of Conservation (DEC)
where a law enforcement officer told me it was “a hard time economically for
many people so they are poaching for food.” It seemed to me that he was
siding with the poachers and unwilling to enforce the laws. He, just as the
local police, advised shooting the deer, which is unacceptable. The
wildlife rehabilitators who returned my calls gave me varied advice. One
suggested that I gain the deer’s trust and try to pull the arrow out, or at
least cut it so that the stem didn’t move around and cause more pain. A vet
advised pulling it out as well, assuring me that the tissue torn by the
barbed or serrated arrow head would heal. Others disagreed with this, saying
that the damage done by the barbs would cause infection and horrible
suffering. Because I have not been able to get close to the deer, the advice
I have had to take was to leave the deer alone. Hopefully, the shaft will
break off at some point and the arrow head will be surrounded by scar
tissue. No one was willing to tranquilize this beautiful creature to cut the
arrow out. That was the solution that I was hoping for.
The sixth of December is the anniversary of my Mother’s
death and for me a sad and depressing day. I thought making a good dinner
and watching the “Nutcracker” on TV would be a good way to boost my
feelings. Just as I was ready to sit down and enjoy the program, a gun went
off in my field. I jumped up and ran to the door to look for my cat. The
heavy inside door slammed on my left hand smashing it above the knuckles. I
was so concerned about my cat and the deer that I ignored it and ran into
the snow-covered garden. I got to the field, and shouted at the
hunters to leave. When I got back to the house, my hand was swollen and
throbbing. I am left-handed and a painter and could not work or write
for over a week, and will apparently have trouble with my left hand for the
rest of my life. Yet my pain can not be compared to that of the deer.
There were other accidents caused in my house by being
startled by gunfire.
It has been nearly a week since I saw the injured deer.
I have seen him twice over the past six days and the arrow has begun to
droop, as has this once frisky animal. I know that he is suffering.
I was once speared in the thigh by a barbed spear while
surfing in Hawaii, so I can identify with this deer’s pain. The protrusion
gives you a deep, heavy pain every time you move or it hits a bone or nerve.
I, however, was luckier than the deer. I went to a hospital where the doctor
cut it out of me and gave me a tetanus booster to prevent infection.
This deer is undoubtedly suffering more agony with every
day that passes. This legal abomination must stop! Hunting is unnecessary
in this day and age, and poaching is illegal but unenforced. Something must
be done to bring relief to the animals and homeowners who are constantly
threatened by armed men who are legally allowed to inflict such cruelty on
our wild animals.
Carolyn Albright is an artist who lives in Woodstock, NY.