All living creatures have a right to live, be treated humanely and respected. In my heart, I believe that humanity needs to broaden its concept of other life forms and put more emphasis on building an inclusive world. We were never meant to construct our human world so selfishly, and trample on the lives of other beings.
One of my stories, written in my first book, Mystical Animals of Ancient Oak, is about a family of groundhogs that took over our yard. It was the sping of 1997 when an anxious groundhog mother foraged for things in our meadow and scrambled into her tunnels. We were delighted when several curious baby groundhogs emerged from their protective tunnels and began their mischevious explorations of our yard. The years at Ancient Oak brought me a deeper appreciation of the inspiration that all living creatures bring us.
On a breezy, sunny morning in August of 2022 I was driving out of my cul de sac in Culpeper, Virginia and I turned onto a side street heading towards the railroad tracks. A car drove towards me and thought I saw something blow across the road. After the car passed I was agonized to see that what was struggling in the road was a groundhog that had just been hit by a car. I could see no reason this motorist couldn’t have stopped, being that this side street had sparse traffic and there was no weather or anything obstructing vision.
Desperately stuggling to get out of the road, the dying groundhog gasped for breath. His body was in death throws and I knew that any rescue attempt would probably cause him more pain. On many occassions I have pulled over to rescue turtles, birds and other creatures that were hit ont he road. But the extent of the groundhog’s injuries left him taking his last breath. I felt such despair knowing that the driver could have easily slowed down to avoid this animal.
Sadlly this type of scene plays out whereever there are automobiles and roads. I know that a driver committed to safety for humans as well as animals can make a major impact in lessening these fatalities on the road. The first thing is that people need to stop thinking of animals as expendable road kill. Every animal values their life as much as we do as humans. That one groundhog was on his important mission that day simply trying to navigate his way on a Culpeper, Virginia side street.
Over the last decades as development has increased, with more cars on the road the level of agression in people has skyrocketed. We need to all slow down and make safety and compassion a priority over every man for himself type of driving.
I hope everyone reading this blog post will find it in their heart to remember that our cars and roads are treading on areas that were once forest and animal habitat. This blog post honors the life of a groundhog that was simply trying to navigate his way on a residential street in Culpeper, Virginia and lost his sacred life. Let’s remember as we hurry through our day to slow down and yield to other species as they embark on their day’s journey.
One of the greatest experiences of my life was volunteering with the Maryland Environmental Trust. I began volunteering with this Maryland State Government Agency in 1996-1998 and eagerly went back in 2006-2008. MET places voluntary land conservation easements on farms, woodlands, and historic properties. A 15-year state and local property tax exemption on the unimproved land comes with the MET easement agreement. The easements on the property are permanent, making this an excellent and effective land preservation tool.
To ensure the easements are properly maintained – landowners must agree to be monitored by MET for compliance with the stipulations of the conservation agreement. My monitoring adventures took me to huge farms in the Agricultural Reserve of Montgomery County Maryland and in Frederick Maryland. I visited forests, historic civil war easements, and emerald green meadows.
Development pressures in our suburbs have created a major loss of forest and farm habitat. The loss of quality of life for humans and wildlife is staggering. As humans, we have to think of the long – term, not just a rush to capitalize financially.
In Montgomery County Maryland, we are fortunate to have the Agricultural Reserve! This land is protected by agricultural zoning. But there are always risks being posed to the Agricultural Reserve. Many organizations including the Montgomery Countryside Alliance fight very hard to keep intrusions out of the reserve. I have testified many times at local legislative hearings regarding proposed developments that are not in alignment with the goals of the agricultural reserve. I encourage citizens to get out and take a firm stand against any type of development that poses serious environmental damage.
Land preservation needs to be a priority when areas are targeted for development. The tactics that developers and government agencies use to promote development – have fallen way out of alignment with what is sustainable for the future. Wildlife and birds have taken a brutal beating in areas where there is clear-cutting and massive pavement replacing what was once their sacred land. Imagine waking up one day and finding your home is gone or a highway is paved through your habitat.
To protect the future of our farms, forests, and green space please join a land trust or other land preservation organization. Exercise your civic rights to testify at legislative hearings; volunteer for an environmental organization and put your vision to work. A world without trees, clean air and water, green space, and abundant wildlife habitat is not a happy or sustainable outcome.
I hope to soon move back to Montgomery County and hike in the Agricultural Reserve! I miss it there. Long live our green heritage!
Tonight I ask people to PLEASE help all the cats that have been left to fend for themselves. Stray and feral cats originated from someone who failed to take proper responsibility for spaying and neutering their cats. I have been involved in the humane trapping of cats and working with groups like Rapp Cats. It is so important to get these neglected animals to spay-neuter clinics and provide food, water, and some shelter. And when possible work with groups to responsibly adopt out the cats that are able to be tamed. I thank Rapp Cats for all their hard work in providing the cats of Rappahannock County with humane trapping, sheltering and responsibly adopting cats to interested families. Please feel free to share your story about cats that you have rescued. I have seen many success storiESIN MY MANY YEARS OF WORKING WITH STRAY CATS. IN FUTURE POSTS I WILL SHARE SOME OF MY STORIES OF WORKING TO RESCUE AND FOSTER STRAY CATS.
Here it is Christmas Eve, and I came across an extremely upsetting video on You Tube. This evening after, dark I thought I heard a wild animal hurting a cat. I wondered if it was a bear vocalization that I heard before the cat cried.
I ran out and got my flashlight and yelled out into the woods to try and find the cat. After the cat cried, everything went silent. I went inside and searched You Tube for the cries of a black bear.
I found a You Tube video of a bear cry and it turned out to be a video that a bow hunter took of a bear that he shot with an arrow. The video is tragic beyond words….the person who reposted this video is apparently an animal activist who was intent on showing the world what we humans do not want to hear. All those bullets and arrows randomly shot into wild animals for supposed sport – is no sport at all. It is barbaric and totally unacceptable that any form of violence to animals is viewed as a sport. Arrow wounds can lead to a prolonged death from bleeding, and the sounds of terror coming from this black bear would cause anyone but a sociopath to know that this is not what humans should be doing to our wildlife.
I encourage people to ask questions and not just think that hunting is solving wildife over population issues, etc. We need to look at the suffering of the animals and how we as humans have over taken their habitat and normal trail ways.
Make it a regular intention to go out and do something compassionate for the deer, bear and other wildlife – honor their pathways and learn from them.
I know this is a serious post on Christmas Eve, but isn’t Christmas supposed to reflect brining in the light and compassion to the planet for people, animals and nature?
For decades I have seen the agony of the animals left hit and killed on our roads. I have never understood why humans became so often immune to this issue. As anyone can see from my blog entries, I am passionate about bringing awareness to this issue.
Recently we have seen exciting news stories about wildlife over passes that are built over huge highways. Many species of animals have been seen safely using these amazing over passes. When we created our modern world the wild creatures were left out of the plan. The idea of hitting wild animals, and too often domestic animals like cats and dogs, became a horrifying norm the world over.
We need to see what a huge difference it would make in our world if we were to make it a priority to drive with safety and compassion for other motorists and animals. We need to devleop an entirely different attitude towards the animals that we share the planet with. I hope that we see a major global movement towards building many more of these highway over passes that give our sacred wild animals safe passage.
I am sorry that I have not written a post in so long. My journey of writing my first book Mystical Animals of Ancient Oak is really the story of my life. It is a story of finding healing with a mother who recovered from years of alcoholism, and the great awakening into nature that soon blossomed. How thosetwilight walks around South Valley Park brought great joy and inspiration to my soul. Why was that flightless duck I came to name Mr. Drake so important? He symbolized the essence of what people so often tread over in their daily lives. I had not visited South Valley Park in years and recently had an emotional visit there. No matter how old I get those days will always be the most important times of transition. Everyone needs to stop and re-connect with a special place in nature. Take time to unplug from all the fear around the Covid Virus. Find somewhere to honor and protect so that it will be there for future generations.
This evening I have a happy animal story to share. My friend Beth Kaufman (comedienne and book author), was at a shopping center when she saw cars stopped in the parking lot. She got out to see if there was an accident. It turned out that there was a pond in the parking lot and a mother duck was parading her ducklings across the parking lot. Fortunately, no one honked! And the ducks made there way safely! This is a great example of the importance of slowing down and stopping for wildlife. Thanks to the drivers who all care enough to stop.
Last week we had another cat abandonment on our property. One of the tenants here saw a small white pick up truck stop and drop off a grey cat and two white kittens at the base of our driveway. The tenant who lives here ran to get the license tag and hopefully report this to the police but the car sped off too fast. I am keeping my eyes out for the cats. They ran towards our neighbor’s house right on Route 522 at the corner of the highway. This is a criminal and sadistic act. People need to STOP acting like cats are exependalbe and can be thrown out on the road. I hope the cat and her kittens don’t get hit on the highway. I am praying I see the cats and can get some food and water to them before they perish. And I would like to thank the cat rescue organization Rapp Cats! They are one of the cat rescue groups that contributes major humane support to Rappahannock County’s lost and abandoned cats. Panda the cat that was abandoned here last fall was on the list for Rapp Cats and he is now in their shelter awaiting an adoption family!
I want to address our human indifference to all the animals that are killed every year by automobiles. Every time that I drive by any animal that has been hit and killed by a car or truck – I always say a prayer for that animal. Today I drove by a deer lying on the side of the road on Route 522 in Culpeper, VA. She was probably hit today. I looked at her glazed eyes and crumpled legs and thought that is time for people to recognize that these animals have very important lives! They are not just in our way as we hurry down the road. If people would slow down and honor life as much as they do speeding – far less wildife and people would be hit and killed on our roads. I really hope that people will learn to see these animals that die on our roads as something much more important than “road kill”. So please share this message to spread the word that animals lives are sacred.