Friday, June 01, 2007

Not an MP fan just now.

I was driving through North Chicago near the Great Lakes Naval Training Base. As I approached a major intersection something odd caught my eye. Something small and two-legged was skittering across the intersection. At first I thought it was just another bird to dodge on a 17-year cicada feeding frenzy. It did not fly away as cars approached. I stopped for a red light and craned my head to look around a Navy police car in the left-hand turn bay. It was a single baby duck. I was filled with dread for the poor little thing. I watched it, dumbstruck with my hands on either side of my face.

The tiny creature was obviously frightened and disoriented. There was no sign of the rest of the brood. The duckling ran under vehicles and made its way to the lane where the policeman would be shortly. I looked at him. He was finishing an enormous donut with a irritated look on his face. I was trying to decide how I might get over there and get the duck out of the intersection without becoming a casualty/additional road hazard. I was not in the turn bay. The intersection has double lanes in all directions.

The light turned green with an arrow for the cop. He took off purposefully. I felt relieved, as it seemed he was going to make sure the duck got out of the intersection. He pulled forward, slowed and appeared to be coming to a stop. He then took aim and crushed the animal under a tire.

Now I am formally educated in biology. I know that the duck has little chance of survival on its own. I also know that the brood is intentionally large, since several members are unlikely to make it to breeding age. It is better for the species if the slow duck does not pass on its genes. I am not particularly sentimental or disturbed with the circle of life. But in this case the innocent animal was laid to waste. Something else is now going to become a road hazard if it finds the carcass. The countenance of the policeman, his behavior before the event did not say to me that he was intent on a mercy kill.

Witnessing the whole thing has chilled me to the bone.