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Today I forgave myself.
I wrote a blog back in October 2013 (My Heart has Joined the Thousand, for my Friend Stopped Running Today) about an Eastern Grey Kangaroo that died in my care called Earl. I was devastated at the time since I was staging him for another carer. In the blog I don’t mention how he died. At the time I thought it was because I didn't want to upset the original carer too much, but in hindsight it was for a different reason... I blamed myself.
Now here is the story behind the story.
Earl was 9kg at the time of his death. I had gone down to the pen for the afternoon feed and there was no sign of him. I checked the pen for about 30mins and there was nothing, absolutely nothing to indicate he had dug out or something had dug in and Mumford didn’t look stressed at all over his pen mate’s disappearance. I even looked on the roof of the shelter for goodness sake. I started looking outside the pen and calling, calling……….. my heart starting to hurt.
I found him about 30 metres away from the pen with a broken neck and a deep wound around the eye. I was utterly distraught my mind searching frantically for answers. I even looked at my dogs, the gentlest and carefullest of any dog I’d ever owned and who have been trained since puppies to leave my animals and wildlife in general alone. Whatever had killed Earl it was my fault, hole in the fence, fence not high enough, neighbor’s dogs, my dogs somehow, whatever it was it was my fault.
The next day my mentor asked me about Wedge Tailed eagles in the area and at last there seemed to be an explanation as to how a kangaroo got out of a secure pen and ended up dead. (Continued)
I rang different raptor carers asking questions, I dug Earl out of his grave to re-inspect the injury around his eye, talon wound? Maybe, I just didn’t know enough. I walked around the pen after learning a full grown Wedge Tail would need a clear 50m to land and take off. The pen had large trees around nearly all of it and the only clear way in and out had a large rock feature. The only plausible explanation with all the information I collected was if the kangaroo had been standing on the rock, this would have meant the eagle didn’t have to land to grab him. It also lined up with where I’d found Earl. This is what I told his carer. She didn’t question my explanation, she accepted it, believed me, trusted me and came to terms with his ‘natural’ death.
But…… I didn’t quite believe it. Earl was 9kg for goodness sake, how could an eagle hold the weight, then he and the eagle had to be in exactly the right place at the right time. I live 25 minutes away from a city, although these eagles are seen in the area they are not common. I just didn’t quite believe it….
That was almost two years ago. Just now my pen is in the process of being updated and parts rebuilt, it is empty and the large maintenance gates are open. This morning, my dogs barked the short warning bark which normally means snake and so I rushed outside as they ran to overlook the pen.
I saw a Wedge Tailed eagle fly in and touch down well within the pen and as I got nearer the pen, take off again into the tree right by the gates. I saw a full-grown wild Agile wallaby run out of the gates of the pen in panic and across the land. The wedgie didn’t need a rock, she didn’t need the clearance from trees and other items to do what she did in an attempt to grab a wallaby.
……Today I forgave myself.
Rest in peace Earl, I will not think about you so often now.