We used to live near the water when we moved in 1995 to Duncan, BC on Khenipsen Road, beside a First Nations area. It was a very nice place, except for the hunting and fishing that took place there. Unfortunately, not only were these activities legalized, but there were many instances of illegal killings as well. That's what this is - killing regardless of the euphemisms used or the appeal to Indigenous 'rights' that are often put forth as an excuse to commit murder. [For more thorough discussions on this Indigenous issue, see KG's FAQ.]
Admittedly, some of the First Nation population do kill animals necessarily for food, because our dominant ruling class stole their lands and forced inexcusable indignities upon them. Our politicians pay mere lipservice, bravadoing putrid political properness, accomplishing little else to improve the often horrible living conditions. No amount of redundant repetition of "We greet you from the unceded lands of …" blather does anything useful for those who can't subsist on such well-meaning words.
On the other hand, some murders in societies are for cultural and traditional reasons, indefensible by any deplorable debate.
The person we rented our house from was a lawyer and had made some attempts to ban hunting in the area at least for non-Indigenous individuals. However, he was in favor of fishing. When my son Kyron, who had recently turned six asked him why killing fish should be allowed, he provided an anthropocentricity remarkable in its absurdity: "The fish would just go to waste if we didn't harvest them." Adults lie to kids a lot which is likely why many kids grow up to be adults who lie to kids a lot, repeating the cycle in perpetuity. Kyron gave the lawyer a sincere look of disgust and decided he wasn't worth talking to any further.
The shooting of eagles, at that time, had been made illegal.
In late November 1995, we witnessed such a illegality. Kyron and his friend Leia drew our attention to an eagle they saw plummeting into the estuary, just in front of our house. The bird was flopping around in the water.
Fortunately, the property had a canoe (in dubious condition) that I utilized to go out to the bird. The eagle actually helped me to put him into the canoe by grasping the side with his beak as I used an oar to lift him in.
By now, the canoe was starting to fill up with water. Trying to manoeuvre a half-filled boat apparently made quite a sight. I was told that Leia started to laugh and asked Kyron why I was going around in circles. All Kyron said was "My daddy is doing good." This is one of the best gifts any parent can ever receive from his or her child.
Providence kept the boat barely afloat till we got to shore, but it was evident that the eagle was going to need medical help. That night, I drove him to Nanaimo where there was a eagle rehab facility.
I thought the bird would be safe now, but was astonished to learn that the veterinarian there, was inclined to kill him, because he thought the bullet had broken a wing bone beyond repair, making the bird unable to fly. He wouldn't let me take the bird elsewhere either. He was a high-profile vet who had set many of the wildlife guidelines through the government.
He kept saying he was powerless to make any other decision, but didn't seem too pleased when I offered to break into the facility to take the bird without his knowledge, thus relieving him of this burden his conscience was so weighed down with.
Therefore, the next day I started phoning around trying to see what the actual laws were, only to learn that the vet had the upper hand, legally.
On the same day, we also found out, from a conservation officer named Jamie that the eagle had likely been shot because some brave braves, no doubt were upholding their rite of passage into bravehood, by plucking eagle feathers. It was likely that they didn't come for the eagle they shot, because they saw I was heading out and didn't want to risk being caught for their illegal activity. The officer took down any details I could provide, because he was keenly interested in going after these culprits.
When the law is there to work against you, it is necessary to create alternative approaches.
I found 5 facilities throughout North America (including one within 50km of where the eagle was at), who were willing to take the bird, even if he couldn't fly. These facilities were sanctuaries for animals who could not be released into the wild. I also tried to put some pressure on the government's Ministry for Wildlife as to the ridiculous position they were upholding, specifically fly or die!
After many exchanges (part of the effort is to wear down the opposition with argumentation and revelation of possible legal, publicized future actions), I received a phone call from the Ministry saying they would only kill the eagle if amputation was absolutely necessary … so the sanctuary finding effort likely paid off.
However, our eagle had other ideas!
The next day, I received a call from the Nanaimo rehab facility saying that the surgery had been done and our vet felt that amputation was not necessary. He wanted to give the bird a chance to recover before release into the wild.
Several weeks later, the facility called me again asking if I would like to come up to see the release of whom they had named, Pradbird!
Kyron, Ranjana and I drove to Nanaimo on the appointed day and just before they released Pradbird, the person who ran the sanctuary held him right in front of us. The eagle looked straight at me and gave a cry. Then they threw him into the air and he flew off, landing on a branch of a distant tree!
Ranjana likes to think that it was a cry of recognition. Perhaps it was.