View Full Version : What would you have done?

01-10-2008, 02:55 PM

since I have not found a subforum for introducing yourself I am going to use this as my second post to do so and raise a question to the experts here.
I am Peter from Germany enjoying nature as much and often I can (and I do not need to carry may equipment with me all the time.
My other major topic of interest is motorsports which I did for quite some years and still love it once in a while.
But back to my question - while my wife and I were out for a long walk we discovered a sick or injured heron and we called the animal rescue since I can't simply see animals suffering and if I could help I will do it. This is the heron lying in the cold water:


By that time we were waiting for the rescue team for more than 45 minutes and the heron got weaker and weaker. That's were I made the decision to cross the small creek and get to the bird:


That is me taking the weak bird. 20 minutes later the rescue team arrived, took the bird to the animal hospital but it was too late.

We had a long controversy discussion at a German site whether the humans should interefere with the nature more than we are already doing.

So, what would you have done?

Thanks and sorry for the long post,


Axel Hildebrandt
01-10-2008, 03:29 PM
Hi Peter, I would have done the same thing. We interfere with 'nature' all the time, why not in a good way once in a while? The other day I found a stunned sharp-shinned hawk under a window late at night. I asked around online, got good advice, kept him overnight and found a rehabber who is now taking care of him and the little guy pulled through, although he still has back problems.

Viele Grüße!

Fabs Forns
01-10-2008, 04:23 PM
Proud of your reaction, Peter, I would have done the same too.

Harold Stiver
01-10-2008, 04:49 PM
I agree you did the right thing. Sometimes we seem to over think these things.

Peter Hawrylyshyn
01-10-2008, 08:13 PM
There's always an instinctive tendency to help to want to help an injured or sick animal
If it's flown into a window, broken a leg, or has another obvious injury - by all means lend a helping hand

But an inexepreinced person bring a sick or dying bird with avian influenza into a rescue/rehabilation centre may unknowingly be doing more harm than good\

Perhaps if you're not sure of what you are doing, it's best left alone

Peter Hawrylyshyn
01-10-2008, 09:11 PM
either my keyboard and the server are at war, or i need to do a better job proofing reading the threads before posting
sorry for the obvious typo's

my point was: avian influenza is a reality rapidly spreading across Asia and Europe without any help from humans

James Shadle
01-10-2008, 10:46 PM
The only thing I would have done differently is have better control of the GBH's lethal head.

Another photographer and I rescued a Brown Pelican Monday.

Last year I rescued several birds. The saddest was not a rescue, I had to end the suffering of an Anhinga that had been hung by fishing line.
As hard as that was, watching the bird suffer was worse.
You see, it was impossible to get it out of the tree.

We are human, thus humanity not hard fast rules of non-interference should guide us.
Well done.

For those who question whether the "humans should interfere with the nature more than we are already doing."

The answer is YES if we are helping!


Pete Woods
01-11-2008, 02:40 AM
Peter it has been said before, you did do the right thing..
You can not sit by and watch animals suffer

Well done, just a shame it was a sad outcome

01-11-2008, 04:11 PM

Thanks for all the comments and support so far. In terms of raising the awareness to the avian flue. That's why we called the professional animal rescue service we had this area under surveillance two years ago and I had several comments like that. There is always some risk involved but we could have an endless discussion from here.

I got some German comments (not many) that they would have gone away and returned later to document the other animals living from the dead bird - which is part of the nature process as well.

Btw, I took care of the head later on this was more or left immediately after I grabbed the bird out of the cold and icy water as you might still catch some waterdrops at the lower body.

We tried our best this time and I would not hesitate to do it again - maybe a little different.

Enjoy your weekend with hopefully good light.


Meint Sijp
01-13-2008, 06:34 AM
Its always good to help but i think another problem is the bird flue that would ceep a lot of people from doing so because they are afraid.
A couple of years ago i was out in a park in winter walking the dog. It is prohibit to have dogs without robe. So i see this young couple playng with the dog, and suddently it takes of attacking a mute swan. What happened was the swan fled on to the ise with the dog who bid the wing badly, the owner couldn't call the dog back and after 10 min off chassing the wing was more or les broken of. I tryed to get the swan but i fled in to a small river next to the lake. The owner of the dog wanted to leave and asked me if i would be so cindly just to tell the annimal rescuer that there had been an accident. WHAT???
I just said yes but i'll give the police your car number as well and tell them what happened. so i turned him in and cept trying to get hold of the swan. i recon after an hour more or less we got the swan it was pretty bad shaped and in bad pain so they had to kill.know this is different but it just showes how some people give a ****. The rescuer was really greatefull that i helped catching the swan and sended me an email of what had happened.
Sorry about this long story but yup i would help if a can.......
The owner got fined but in DK, people mistreating annimals only get a "warning" aparently and a fine i really bad cases they get told not to ave anything to do with annimals for about 5 years or so

Peter Hawrylyshyn
01-13-2008, 02:51 PM
Since 5 posts have recommended helping the bird in this situation, i feel obliged to write this.

Avian influenza viruses circulate among birds worldwide. Certain birds, particularly water birds, act as hosts for influenza viruses by carrying the virus in their intestines and shedding it. Infected birds shed virus in saliva, nasal secretions, and feces.

Since November 2003, more than 330 confirmed cases of human infection with highly pathogenic avian influenza A (H5N1) viruses have been reported from 14 countries. Most human cases of H5N1 virus infection are thought to have occurred during direct contact with sick or dead infected birds. Overall mortality in reported H5N1 cases is approximately 60%.

Given it was a heron ( a water bird) in an area being monitored for H5N1 and the bird appeared sick, listless without any other signs of injury highly suggestive of a viral illness - - why would you want to risk becoming a "human" avian flu statistic? What if the bird had bitten you and your blood had come in direct contact with it's infected saliva/nasal secretions - then how would you feel?

If the bird has an obvious injury ( a broken limb) , is trapped in fishing lines/nets, dazed from flying into a window, has fallen out of a nest, ... by all means help. But if there's a suggestion that it might be a viral/infectious illness - LEAVE IT ALONE - it will die no matter what your good intentions are.

the above info came from the CDC site - http://www.cdc.gov/flu/avian

Jim Poor
01-14-2008, 12:15 PM
All good points. I can't stand by and just let another living being suffer. Not even an insect minding it's own business (much to my wife's dismay) gets squashed in my house unless by accident.

That said, I'll kill a mosquito that decides I taste good :D

There is a line of personal safety that I won't cross in an effort to rescue a critter (or another human for that matter) but that line moves depending on circumstances. The line for humans (though I often jokingly say otherwise) is farther than for most animals. The line for my dogs is farther than any other accept another family member.

I think you did the right thing (but I also feel the danger of bird flu is greatly exaggerated by our own fears of it). More people die of regular flu each year, but you don't see us running around avoiding humans (most of us). I read an article (I'll try to find it) that listed several things that we are more likely to get sick from and / or die from then bird flu, yet we don't have the same fearful reaction.

Steve Foss
01-14-2008, 12:16 PM
Avian flu aside, I would not have moved or rescued the bird. I don't feel it would have been my place to do so. This is a personal ethical matter, and my position is not at all meant to judge another's position.

Mike Moats
01-14-2008, 07:21 PM
I like the idea of people helping animals in trouble. But, I think you should know what your doing before heading into a situation, as it could end up badly for you, or the animal. Peter, I think you did the right thing by calling the experts first, unfortunately it wasn't in time to help the bird.

Michael Lloyd
01-14-2008, 09:48 PM
I found a Barn Owl "flopping" around my pasture a few years ago. It was during a long holiday weekend and Texas Parks and Wildlife was not answering the phone so I left it alone. The next afternoon I walked out to see if it was still there and it was. 2 more days passed before a gentleman from TP&W called. I was sure that coyotes would have eaten it by then but went to look anyway. The Owl was still there. The TP&W rep gave me instructions on how to capture the Owl, with strict instructions to avoid the feet and beak. I was able to capture the injured Owl and drive it 150 miles to a lady that TP&W recommended for bird rehabilitation. After a few months in her care the Owl was released to fend for itself. We speculated that someone had hit it with a car.

I think I would have been more afraid of losing an eye to the Heron's sharp beak than I would catching the flu. The TP&W biologist had me throw a blanket over the Owl to keep it calm. As I sit here thinking about it I am not sure what I would have done.

Sabyasachi Patra
01-15-2008, 10:40 AM
I have different views on the subject.

Normally people jump to help. However, we should think what will happen because of our actions. Most of the times I have seen the resuced animal or bird ends up in a Zoo. All of us value our freedom. I would prefer death anyday, rather than prison. I guess animals and birds are no different than us.

Zoos have lost their relevance. I don't know of any zoo that has succeeded in reintroducing animals back into their natural habitat. Most of the times in India, when an animal wanders into the city in search of food, due to habitat destruction, the result is traquilisation and despatch to the nearest zoo. I know of a case In Malaysia, when a tiger was trapped in a trap and lost its leg. The tiger was sent to Mallacca Zoo and was nick named by the locals as the three legged tiger. What a sad end to a majestic creature. Last week I was in Singapore Zoo, infact I was forced by my friends to accompany them. I saw elephants, polar bear etc are taught tricks to perform infront of people. Sad story.

If we are concerned, then we should spend our energy in protecting the habitat. Life and death is a natural phenomenon. Injured animals heal much faster than we can imagine. Else, the bird or animal may die. But nothing goes wasted in a forest. Life supports life. When one animal dies, it helps in sustaining some other animals.

I believe, our well meaning actions in trying to help individual animals would cause more harm than good.

01-17-2008, 04:19 PM
Hi all,

I really love the discussion here and the diversity how you deal with this topic. We had one confirmed death through avian flue of a duck almost two years ago and this was a roughly 4 miles away. Since then several other outbreaks haven been reported but many miles away. I did not jumped into this blindly and I tried to be as careful and cautios as possible.
It was my personal decision and respect all the other opinions as well.

Take care,


Nonda Surratt
01-18-2008, 02:38 PM
Late but wading in. Peter you did fine and like Jim said (you did have on heavy gloves) the beak of a heron can be the real danger.

I am a wildlife rehabilitator so can say the most wilds are brought in ( to rehab) by concerned citizens and I thank them for caring. We also find that most come in do to human impact of some sort. Sometimes in the case of storms with high winds, you get OZ infants that can be re-nested.

Disease is always an issue and we are quite aware of these issues, animals are quarantined and depending on what might be floating around at the time,care givers suit up appropriately. We also get the name and contact information of the person presenting the wild in case they need to be notified of a potential zoonosis.

Human safety always comes first and IF someone calls prior to bring in a wild we do go over safety issues, up to and including don't let the kids play smooch face with baby raccoon:) For some perspective there were 119 deaths from WNV in the US in 2005 and some 30,000+ from flu.

So keep helping those wilds folks, many do get a second chance.