EDITORIAL: Man sometimes adds to cruelty in nature
For York County outdoors lovers, the past few weeks have been far from enjoyable.
There have been three high-profile cases of intense interest to the area's nature enthusiasts recently. Unfortunately, they have not been feel-good stories. In fact, they've caused emotions. ranging from concern to sadness to anger, to run very high.
Bald eagle nest: There was the story of the bald eagle nest near Codorus State Park, made world famous by the Pennsylvania Game Commission's eagle cam.
The first eaglet hatched recently but did not survive. The second egg in the nest did not even hatch. As a result, eagle-cam fans will be denied the thrill of watching young raptors mature and eventually leave the nest. Last year, when both eaglets successfully fledged, eagle cam was must-watch viewing for months during the the winter, spring and summer.
This year, however, was a stark reminder that nature can be an unpredictable and unforgiving place.
At least in the case of the bald eagle nest, however, man did not play a role in the demise of the birds.
Unfortunately, man did play a major role in the other two local outdoors dramas that made the news recently. In each case, man was most definitely the villain.
Deer poaching: First came the news about a Hanover-area man with prior poaching convictions who has again been charged with poaching deer, according to the Game Commission. Andrew Michael Klinefelter, 29, allegedly killed three bucks and one antler-less deer in recent months. He is charged with five counts of illegally taking or killing big game, all third-degree felonies.
Even worse, he owns prior convictions for poaching in 2013 and 2014.
A tip to a wildlife conservation officer led to Klinefelter's arrest. The tipster should be congratulated. His efforts should serve as an important reminder to all sportsmen that they need to police their own ranks. A poacher is nothing more than a thief. He's depriving legitimate hunters of the opportunity to legally harvest the animals he is poaching.
In addition, serial poachers should be punished to the fullest extent of the law. In this case, prison time would seem appropriate.
Hawk shot with arrow: The final case involved a red-tailed hawk that was seen in the area with an arrow piercing its body. The hawk, thankfully, was captured and nursed back to health. It was released back into the wild on Wednesday.
That's the good news. The folks who helped capture the bird, and those who helped it mend, should be praised.
The bad news is that shooting a hawk is illegal. The federal Migratory Bird Treaty act protects all hawks.
There are reportedly a few leads in the case, and if those leads are good, it appears the culprits may be young adults. The investigation, however, is still very much active.
Like the poacher, the criminals who shot the hawk should face stiff punishment.
Wild animals are there for all of us to enjoy. Those who illegally injure or kill wildlife should be treated like the lawbreakers they are.
Nature can sometimes be a cruel place. Man, however, does not need to add to that cruelty.