By Ann Yancey
Volunteering at Carolina Wildlife Center is among the most rewarding experiences of my life. Unlike the dogs and cats in our municipal shelters, these animals don’t want to come home with me. If they could express this, they would tell us that what they want is to return to their wild lives.
The work at CWC can be hard and dirty. But over the years I have developed a great deal of respect for our wild neighbors. They manage to adapt and survive in spite of the considerable challenges they face.
Human beings achieve incredible things. No doubt about that. But the wildlife with whom we share this planet pay the price for our accomplishments. We build highways and shopping centers and housing developments where they live. We tear up their forests and roll out the sod so we can have golf-green grass in our yards. We landscape with non-native plants. We pollute their water supply with trash and chemical runoff from our roads and over-fertilized lawns.
And then when they dare to approach the cat food and water we leave out on the porch, we panic and call them nuisance animals who need to be removed immediately. I wonder who exactly is the nuisance.
Several weeks ago, I was driving along Gills Creek and I saw a beautiful Great Blue Heron wading in the water. I stopped to watch him and I thought back to another Great Blue who was brought into the Wildlife Center with his wing shattered by a gunshot. Did someone do this just because he was big and slow and made an easy target? We’ll never know.
Maybe I can do just a little to help make up for all of this. And that is why I volunteer.