Thursday, April 16, 2009

LIfe From Death

I was down at the cannery several weeks ago taking pictures for an article on hunting that I wanted to send to an online magazine. I had to walk the beach because the site where I wanted to go was closed to the public. The beach however is owned by the state. When I came around the corner I saw six or eight mature bald eagles crowded around this carcass. As I got closer they flew off, one by one. This guy was a little more brave or hungry though, so I was able to get a shot.
From what I could tell, this was a young deer. I assume it may have starved. We've had a lot of snow this year and he may not have been able to get around in the woods. When that happens the deer go to the beach and feed on kelp. I understand that it isn't good for them to eat too much of it. That may have been what happened to this one. Fortunately, in nature nothing goes to waste. The death of this deer will mean life to a number of eagles and maybe minks and martens. Who knows, a bear may even have a shot at the remains if the tide doesn't take it away.
Here in Hoonah starvation hasn't been the only cause of death for a number of deer. There have been six deer that I know of that have been killed by dogs. Several people have chosen to disregard the leash law and let their dogs run. When the snow is deep, the deer break through the snow and are unable to get away from the dogs, who, because of their larger, wider paws are able to stay on top of the snow. The dogs don't always kill the deer outright, but maim them and the deer are left to die a slow death. They don't want to eat them, it's just the sport of the chase, which always ends poorly for the deer. Four of the deer have been driven from a cliff just past the the ferrry terminal. Once a dog starts to chase deer, it doesn't stop.Hoonah has a history of living off the land and deer are an important part of the diet here, so I don't understand why anyone would choose to ignore the law and allow their dogs to run in the woods. I do know that two of the dogs were dispatched by the state troopers. Both dogs were owned by the same person. To the best of my knowlege no fine was imposed- too bad.
I have a dog that I love, and I hate to see anyone's dog killed because the owner was irresponsible, but at the same time it's not fair to the wildlife or the people that depend on it to suffer at the hands of those who refuse to follow the law.

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