Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Death on the road

On Sunday morning I was recovering from a wild(ish) night at a fundraiser at the mountain rescue base and contemplating wandering along to the base help with the cleanup when I took a phone call about an injured otter spotted by the side of the road on the west coast. A few hurried telephone conversations later and I was on may way to Blackwaterfoot to pick up the animal for transfer to Hessilhead Wildlife Rescue Trust on the mainland.  

As I drove over the hill I wondered how I might effect a rescue of an animal known for its ferocious bite. Hessilhead's advice had been to "fling it gently" in to a wheelie bin. I was relieved to discover on arrival that Angus, a kindly local farmer, and Jim of Arran Birding fame had already managed to catch the otter.  My relief ended when I lifted the lid of the blue recycling bin to see a distressed animal whose back legs and tail hung limp and useless. It didn't look good. 

The otter was transferred to the Calmac guys at Brodick, who ensured he was safely delivered to the mainland for collection by the Hessilhead staff. Sadly the otter succumbed to his injuries that night, despite having quite a bit of fight in him.  The staff at the rescue centre were surprised and sad that he didn't make it. 

I have shed quite a few tears over this little guy.  It seemed like a senseless death for an animal in its prime. This time of year is especially dangerous for wildlife on the roads as the nights draw in and animals have to run the gauntlet of drivers going to and from work in the dark. Slowing down and keeping a lookout for glowing eyes in the hedgerows and verges could save an animal's life, and maybe even that of the driver, as animals as large as red deer can become road casualties and pose a real hazard to vehicles travelling at speed. 

I can't get this death out of my head, and am looking forward to next time I see a happy healthy otter doing its thing- like this one in the very shaky video clip below that I took down at Kildonan a few weeks ago. 

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