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Freedom's just another word

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Freedom is a funny thing. We talk about it as a noun: it is a thing to be had, something we can work toward. It often feels like a distant goal that comes from a faraway land.

Last night, I felt it in a new way. I was fortunate enough to be part of a wildlife release with the Toronto Wildlife Centre (along with the Association for the Protection of Fur-Bearing Animals, Coyote Watch Canada and Doug).

A coyote, found in rather poor condition, was picked up in January by TWC. She weighed a mere 12 pounds at the time. Upon her release last night, she was over 20 pounds and looked as healthy as any animal I have ever seen.

A group of us met up at an undisclosed location in Halton for the release. We had to traverse a barnyard of horses (who turned out to have ninja training) and wade through a fair bit of mud and icy slush to make it to the ideal release point.

The sun was just setting below the escarpment as our little band of advocates stood in a semi circle behind the carrier containing our friend. Cell phones were out, videoing the entire event.

There was a tangible excitement jumping between us all. While we all work to help coyotes – each of us in our own way – it was the first time we had gathered to be a part of a release.

When the blanket was pulled back and the cage door opened, there was a half of a second of hesitation; we were all holding our breaths.

And she was out – kicking up snow, weaving slightly to the left and right as she found her ideal path. As she crested one hill and dipped into a slight valley, she slowed and looked back at the group of us. This, I’ve been told, is not unusual when wild animals are released.

It is likely inappropriate and anthropomorphic to guess what she was thinking or feeling at that moment. Anything I felt or observed was likely projection by myself and our group… but I felt, for the first time, what freedom really is.

It isn’t an object or an ideal; it isn’t a political system or method of discipline. It is the knowledge that there are no restraints against you, physically or mentally, to accomplish what you need to. It is the feeling of a hawk soaring against a breeze, the leap of a whale and yes, the running of a coyote.

I don’t know that the coyote was thankful to anyone. I don’t know that she really cared about us beyond wanting to distance herself from our group. I do know that I’m thankful to that little coyote for letting me be a small part of her life. I’m thankful to my friends who were there with me. And I’m thankful that every now and again, we get a reminder of why we fight for freedom.[/one_second]

Reposted with permission from iHowie.ca

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