A Sunday morning call had us running around and ready to leave in minutes with all appropriate gear in tow. The call came from The city of Hamilton Animal Services asking for assistance with a deer entangled in a soccer net.
Cases involving deer are so difficult because deer are prey animals with an extraordinarily well developed flight instinct. They will do anything to get away even if they hurt or kill themselves in the process. Sedating an animal in such agitated state is very difficult, unpredictable and has a very mixed success rate.
It took a lot, but we managed to cut the deer free. He ran away while still having netting wrapped around his antlers, but there was nothing we could do about that. Unfortunately he didn’t run far. He collapsed in a ravine below after which he rolled into the water causing his one front legs to get stuck in the netting still stuck to his antlers. I decided I couldn’t leave him like that, so I made my way down the steep embankment and stepped into the creek. As I approached the deer I soon realized he was suffering from the lethal and non-reversible effects of Capture Myopathy.
Capture Myopathy occurs as a result of extreme fear or stress and I have seen it’s devastating effects more times than I can count. It broke my heart, but I knew I had to make the call to save the animal the agony of a slow miserable death. I made my way back up the embankment and requested police assistance to help the animal out of his misery. Hamilton Police obliged and an officer did the deed.
It made all of us sad. Something so preventable. This is not the first time and likely not the last time I have been asked to assist or received wildlife stuck in soccer nets. Wild animals who move after dark simply can’t see the netting.
Not long ago we received a Great Horn Owl from the Kitchener Waterloo Humane Society who had also been stuck in a soccer net. This story luckily had a much happier ending as we got the owl back to health and returned her back to her wild home.
The solution which will prevent any of this is so simple. Please roll up the soccer nets when they are not in use.
They can so easily be rolled up and fastened with Velcro strips or ties to the top bar and it will prevent so much unnecessary wildlife suffering.
I ask anyone who reads this to please be an advocate and be pro-active not only by spreading the word, but by actually participating. Convince your city, town or township to roll up all soccer nets at the end of the day, or better yet pick a soccer park near you and be the person to do the job at the end of each day.