Editor’s note: This post has originally been posted on 29th May 2018, and has now been updated and republished.
What have cats, cars and wildlife in common? Cats are domesticated companion animals, cars are machines built by humans, and both are able to kill sentient beings when not supervised or controlled. Cars can kill cats and wildlife, and cats can kill wildlife too. Neither of both scenarios is ‘natural’, both are artificial and creations of humans. So what is the impact, and what can be done to keep both, our beloved companion cats and wildlife, safe?
Editor’s note: This post has originally been posted on 12th March 2022, and has now been updated and republished.
So called silent firework displays, which are in fact not silent at all, unless they are replaced by laser shows, are increasingly praised as the ultimate solution when it comes to addressing animal welfare concerns. At the first glance silent fireworks seem to be a logical solution, as reduced noise pollution is addressing one of the best known problems in this context. However, as it is commonly the case, there is the bigger picture to consider, and that is where the controversy starts, at least for people who feel very strongly that fireworks are part of their cherished traditions and well deserved rights, and of course for people, who have some sort of financial interest in the business of producing, selling or using fireworks.
Most people would agree that we should not do any intentional harm to other sentient beings, be it directly or indirectly. Fireworks have a proven negative impact onto our shared environment, and are therefore potentially harming other human and non-human animals, who are unlikely to have given consent to being harmed, neither in the short nor in the long term. This simply means that by using any type of firework, intentional harm is being done to others, which is ethically not justifiable. Therefore we could actually stop at this point, but for the sake of the argument, let us look a bit more in detail into the threats and problems caused by fireworks.
It is usually not difficult to differentiate between adult rooks (Corvus frugilegus) and carrion crows (Corvus corone). Both species may look similar at the first glance, because both have black feathers that can also look glossy. However, the long pale and pointy beak, with bare skin around its base, is the most striking and characteristic feature of rooks. It is also worth knowing that rooks nest collectively in tall trees, often close to farms or villages, which are known as rookeries. In contrast, carrion crows are fairly solitary and are usually found alone or in pairs, although they may form occasional non-breeding flocks. Unlike rooks, carrion crows do nest solitary, maintaining a large breeding territory centred around the nest.
Additional help and information about how to identify adult corvids including rooks and carrion crows can be found on the British Trust for Ornithology website (BTO).
Isla joined us recently at nestling age after being rescued by well-meaning but inexperienced people. We do not know a lot about Isla’s story other than that she has been found as a presumed orphan. We understand that the carer struggled increasingly to raise Isla. After about two weeks they gave up and brought Isla eventually to a local bird rescue, who recognised immediately that Isla was in great trouble. Subsequently, we have been asked to take over Isla’s longterm care and rehabilitation, which we did.
Coexistence of Multiple Health Conditions
After a thorough assessment we found that Isla showed signs of a septicaemia with undulating temperatures. She also demonstrated extensive soft tissue swellings involving hock, ankle and foot joints. Interestingly, Isla’s wing joints were completely preserved. Both very swollen hock joints showed already several small pressure sores. Additionally, obscured by the marked joint swelling, we also noticed an unusual deformity of Isla’s right-sided hock joint and foot, which rather looked like a traumatic injury than a congenital deformity or simple involvement by the coexisting inflammatory joint disease. It was difficult to ascertain the exact pathology due to the severity of joint and soft tissue swelling. However, careful physical examination showed a lack of sensation and power in the injured foot, which made it likely that a trauma has caused at least part of the hock joint swelling, having also lead to a nerve injury. Also, it seemed very likely that Isla has suffered a spinal contusion, as she showed a slight weakness in both legs, whilst both hip joints remained unaffected by joint infection and lack of power. Not unexpected in Isla’s case, as her immune system was clearly overwhelmed, we found her suffering of an external and internal parasite infestation.