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At the eagle site that I have been watching along with thousands of other viewers, we received news on Tuesday that one of the baby eaglets, who had only recently fledged, flew away from the nest, died from accidental electrocution on Sunday morning. Many of us did not know about the risk to birds with large wingspans until this happened. It turns out that birds that are large with long wingspans, can be electrocuted when perched on a pole that was built, and not yet upgraded, with live electrical parts that the birds can touch with both wings outstretched. While their feathers, usually dry, do not conduct electricity, the bones in their wings at the joint, called the wrist, can conduct electricity and cause electrocution when the bird touches two electrical sources simultaneously.
When this fact became known a number of y ears ago, a lot of the utility companies, banding together with birding organizations, revised their regulations and began raptor-proofing their utility power poles. A lot of poles have been modified, but many more still need to be changed.
In the Decorah eagle chat rooms, many people were so saddened they say they will not return to watch the eagles any longer. Many of us, however, will continue because we know that this is all part of the experience of life in the wild. We know that wild animals face dangers that in some cases will cause death to these beloved creatures.
Yet, here we are, human beings with the finest of technology and the human intellect to figure it all out still suffering from the loss of members of our own community to dangers that surround us from many causes. We cannot evade all accidental occurrences of death. And that is exactly what I think about when I think of death from cancer. It is an aberration of one of our processes of life itself; it should not happen. When we lose our beloved members to this, I have often thought about what a mistake in life it is to lose someone so young, so brilliant, so fun, so happy, so full of life. Like the accidental death of one of our beloved animals in the wild, it should not happen. And, some day we will have the modifications to the dangers that shorten our lives that will stop it from happening.
Until then, however, we suffer the losses of our dearest friends, who leave before we are ever near being ready to say goodbye. Losing a baby eagle in the wild reminds me so much of what it is to lose a human life because in so many ways, humans are always beginning a new part of their lives when they are stricken down by life’s enemy: cancer. Until science modifies that dangerous foe that strikes us down, often in the prime of life, we have to learn to deal with the sadness of loss and prepare ourselves for our own eventuality.Loss is a tough lesson to learn.
© 2004–2012 Donna Peach. All rights reserved.