For over a week now, my heart is heavy and I feel like crawling under a rock. No, not because of the virus and being cooped up, but because I feel as though I caused the death of a flock of ravens.
It was the end of a sunny afternoon when a knock on the door interrupted the peace and a barrage of threats and accusations unfolded: “if you don’t stop feeding the ravens, I’ll shoot or poison them. They bang on my roof… four o’clock in the morning, you’d think a truck is running over my house.. they shit all over and rip the roof of my trailer apart… at least $2,000 damage… I don’t know what to do anymore… I’m going to shoot or poison them.”
I was speechless after such an outburst out of the blue. After his words sunk in, I could only mumble “I’m sorry, I did not realize by feeding them, I would upset you, I understand and I’m glad you told me. I’m sorry”. My brain was mush as he turned and left, still threatening about shooting and poisoning.
My supper stayed untouched and I spent a sleepless night. The next morning, NO RAVENS. For a whole week, no life outside. No birds checking for sunflower seeds on my feeders, no birds balancing on the railing, no couples sitting on the deck rails or wires preening each other. Worst of all, no friendly “Biscuit” peeking in the window: I wrote about him because we raised him as a half-naked, fallen-from-the-nest preemie, and not to forget “Spike”, my neighbor’s raven that she fed for 15 years – gone. The thought finally set in… he killed them all! How could he? These ravens were my friends – a little bright spot amongst all the gloom around us.
My reason for feeding them was: I thought I would be providing them with food to help them survive the long winter (and also prevent garbage can break-ins). During a time where staying home is crucial, my granddaughter and I took a lot of joy seeing my flock come by to visit every morning and take a little bit of food to bolster their winter needs, just like the hummingbirds and songbirds sitting on my feeders in the summertime.
Finally, after a week of being choked up and mourning, I asked the police for advice. After a few hours of investigating, here came the expert advice: yes, we can feed ravens, but if (and this applies to all wildlife) any damages done to any property, matters can be taken by the property owner to “remove” the offending animal.
My beloved tall trees will attract them again and I fear that this will only happen again, feeding or no feeding. Ravens are intelligent birds and make their homes where they feel safe and secure, but they are unaware of the human danger and evil only a few houses down the street. I feel a great sadness knowing that I cannot help to save them from the cruelty of someone who cannot appreciate their beauty.
In Canada, known for its gentle demeanor and kindness to wildlife, it is so hurtful to know that it is within legal means to take a whole flock of ravens out of the sky because of some pecking and noise. They are intelligent, friendly, and can recognize people – not to mention mourning their friends when death naturally occurs. Ravens do their part to clean up the “waste” in nature, scrounging for food from the leftovers other animals leave behind. As humans, we have built our homes on their land and remove them when we feel they are “in the way” – when really, we are the ones that took away their habitat. The sorrow of this loss and the knowledge of its legality has kept me awake for nights on end. What happened to kindness and respect for animals and the beautiful land we live in?
Editor’s Note: There is no proof that poison was used, but it is disturbing that the birds are absolutely gone. Poison is a very ugly, gruesome, and insidious way to kill animals. It is an indiscriminate way of delivering death, destroying all who eat of the food that was used to deliver the poison. Then that circle perpetuates – the dead can be eaten by something, and then they die as well… a circle of death.
Ravens are protected by the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act (FWCA). The FWCA prohibits the hunting, trapping and collecting of birds without the proper licence or scientific permit. Importantly, the use of poison to kill birds is strictly prohibited. Enforcement of the FWCA is done mainly by Conservation Officers employed by the MNR. The general penalty is a fine of not more than $25,000, to imprisonment for a term of not more than one year, or both. However, that protection goes out the window when it comes to protecting your property. Section 31 of the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act addresses “protection of property” from wildlife. Under section 31, anyone who believes that wildlife is damaging or is about to damage their property, may, on their own land, harass or kill the offending wildlife. These provisions apply to all property owners, not just farmers.