The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Columns

May 11, 2014

Cute, cuddly — and kinda vicious

In the wild, nature doesn't always nurture

The Department of Natural Resources might be sorry it started its wildly popular "eagle cam" that streams a live video feed of an eagle nest at an undisclosed location in Minnesota.

Early this spring three eaglets hatched and were affectionately named Snap, Crackle and Pop by the many online followers obsessed with watching the eagle cam.

It's always dangerous giving cute names to animals you either plan on eating some day or which you have no control over protecting.

Anyone who grew up on a farm knows giving names to livestock leads to hurt. As kids we had a white goose we named Oscar, hoping to treat him like a pet. But Oscar's date with destiny was always going to be late that fall, name or no name.

As it turns out geese are generally mean, hissing animals, so watching Oscar beheaded wasn't much of a trauma.

The eagle-cam watchers recently went into heart-wrenching chatter when young Snap appeared to be stuck in the nest, unable to move. Pleas began to roll into the DNR to help the eaglet, something the DNR said they would not do as their policy — like those operating other such cams around the country — was to not intervene with nature.

After which the DNR felt forced to intervene, no doubt imagining the backlash as fans watched the eaglet slowly die. So they got the eaglet down and took it to the Raptor Center where they found the bird's elbow joint was broken and infected. Snap was euthanized.

It's always tricky when we get emotionally involved with wildlife. People know animals live in a violent, dangerous world where strength and a large amount of pure chance sort out the living and the dying. Still, they can't help trying to save animals.

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