An animal movement, sudden, jolting, and brown caught my eye on the side of the road. A deer, with great effort, pushed itself up with its front legs as I approached, now slowing my cadence. Its wide black eyes were full of fear and agony and made my heart suddenly sink as I realized that its rear legs were both broken. I stopped six or seven bike lengths away for a moment, piecing together its demise: Up above, maybe 25 feet, was highway 7, which paralleled the road I was riding up–the “business” route that goes through Allenspark–a tiny community of a few dozen homes at 8,400 feet in between Estes Park and Ward. The deer had been hit by a car up on the highway, tumbled or crawled down the steep embankment and landed in the culvert next to where I was currently track standing. I decided to get going again quickly so that the deer wasn’t put under any extra duress from my presence.
I rode up a quarter of a mile to get water at the natural spring and think about what I was going to do. My plan became to notify Rocky Mountain Wildlife Rescue Services somehow. I tried calling Adelaide but didn’t have cell service. Next, I went across the street to what looked like a bed and breakfast, but no one was home. I rode down the hill 50 feet and knocked on a cabin door. An old man came out and I explained what I needed him to do, but he admitted that he was too confused about using the internet to find a phone number.
Across the street was a cafe that was miraculously open, so I went in and told the owner/waitress. I gave her the deer’s location, that it looked like it could be saved and just had some broken legs, and that she should look up Rocky Mountain Wildlife Rescue Services and let them know. I assumed they’d come pick the deer up, take it back to wherever they’re located, put it in some casts, let it recover for a month, and send it on its way.
The phone was currently being used by another employee to do an order, but she let me know that they’d call right away after the phone was free.
At this point in my ride I had another 30+ miles to home and I’d covered around 60, riding from north Boulder down towards Golden, up Coal Creek, north on Peak to Peak highway through Nederland, then up highway 7 to get water at the springs. It was a warm day even up high, perfect for a big mountain ride. I had spent most of it daydreaming about racing and had stayed focused on my power goal for the day. Plus I it was my first big ride on the Speed Phreak, and I was jotting down things in my mind to write about it later for a review. All of day’s thoughts had been positive. This all changed when I encountered the deer, which I was now passing on my way back down.
Again, it struggled to its front feet, both rear legs laying crumpled at the ground as it half-laid there helplessly. I took a picture of the surrounding area with the intention of sending it to a ranger or person with wildlife rescue so they knew where the deer was. A pickup truck pulled into view. I flagged it down and explained to the driver, pointing to the deer, that once he was home he should call Rocky Mountain Wildlife Rescue Services. He promised he would.
I rode down the mountain with tears growing in my eyes, interspersed with a clenched jaw and grinding teeth. My rage against cars and grievance for the deer combined for a strange emotional cocktail–one that reminded me of the feeling I had when I rode to the hospital after seeing Adelaide’s crash scene in 2014, and I knew that what I was experiencing was the lingering PTSD from that day, not necessarily the deer.
However, that did not keep me from letting up about the poor creature stuck in that culvert on a hot day, most likely severely dehydrated and in an equal state of shock and defeat–just ready for life to be over. Who knows how many hours, or even days, it had already been stuck there. I continued on towards Lyons, where I’d make another call.
After figuring out where the Sheriff’s office was, I knocked on the door. No one was there. I called a number that someone else gave me and got a hold of the non emergency dispatcher. I told them about the deer, they said they’d recieved two calls about it already, I said great and—-“Sorry hold please.”
I was put on hold because there was an actual emergency.
I was reconnected and told them about Rocky Mountain Wildlife Rescue Services, letting them know that that’s who they should call. “Sorry hold please.”
I was put on hold again. A few minutes later I was transferred to another dispatcher. I explained my story to him over again. He informed me that the sheriff had been informed and would be heading up there as soon as he was able to. I told the dispatcher about Rocky Mountain Wildlife Rescue Services.
“Yeah, we don’t do any sort of rehabilitation. . . We put the animal out of its misery.”
“Oh, okay. Uhh, is it possible to hold off then? I’m going to see if–”
I was put on hold again. This time I was on hold for over five minutes, so hung up and started riding home. I called Adelaide from highway 36 and told her about the deer, to look up the rescue services and text me their number.
A few minutes later I pulled over to the side of the road again after she had texted back, called the number, and got a voicemail. I rode home.
At the computer, I finally came to terms that there was no Rocky Mountain Wildlife Rescue Services. I had made that up apparently. I searched for other organizations that helped injured animals in the area and none took in deer, specifically stating that they did not treat deer, elk, moose, or other large mammals. Earlier I thought about calling Chris, a friend with a pickup truck, and going back up there to load the deer into the back, drive it to a vet, and pay for the vet to fix its legs. I hadn’t thought so far ahead as to what I’d do with the deer once it was in its half body cast.
By now, though, well over an hour since I had last scene the deer, I imagined a police officer in beige with a cowboy hat pulling up to the scene, slowly getting out, walking over to the deer, and looking at if for a second, before walking back to the car and grabbing a rifle. The deer, of course, wouldn’t anticipate being helped by a human, so it would experience no sense of relief once the rescue mission arrived, only to have its spirits shattered as it realized that the rescuer was an executioner.
I thought of the person who hit the deer and didn’t go for help. Just drove on. I know that it’s not expected that a person would be concerned with helping an animal that was just going to die anyways, but why not? Why isn’t it expected or normal to stop everything that you’re doing to help save a life, regardless of its species?
I thought of all the people I called and talked to who had other things to do that prevented them from taking immediate action: the old guy didn’t want to have to get on the internet, the cafe owner was in the middle of doing an order, the pickup truck driver was on his way home, the dispatchers had real emergencies to attend to. If it was a human child stuck in the culvert with two broken legs or possibly a severed spinal cord, everyone would have stopped what they were doing immediately and rushed to help.
I’m guilty of the same thing. I’ve run over small animals on my bike, smashed rabbits into cow-patties while driving, and even been in a car that struck a deer, at slow speed, that ran off into the woods. Moreover, I eat meat. This lack of concern is just normal human behavior I guessed.
But why is any of it normal? I couldn’t get passed the strangeness of our society, and the bizarre uncaring nature of humanity, both for other animals and for humans alike. We have the ability to care about, to feel for, and to empathize with others, including animals, yet we choose not to most of the time. Humanity’s tribalism–the fear and hatred of others who are not like you–is still incredibly strong, as seen in the past election. 63 million people voted in hatred and fear of Muslims, immigrants, Mexicans, African Americans, gay people, feminists, and others who don’t look like or act like traditional white people. We send missiles to Syria, not aide or open arms.
Of course no one cares about a crippled dear.
I’m reading a book, Sapiens, that discusses the illogic of The All Powerful yet Benevolent God and free will. These three factors make up the Christian god. The facts:
- An all powerful (monotheistic) god has total control over everything;
- If an all powerful god has complete control over the universe, he/she would know the future ‘free will’ choices that a person, who he created, would make;
- ‘Testing’ this person’s moral character by allowing them to make bad choices would be an evil thing for an all powerful god to do because the god has knowledge that this person, we’ll call him Bob, will turn out to be an axe murderer or work for ICE. Bob’s immoral free will choices, which God knew Bob would make all along, will lead to other’s misery and death, and Bob will be sent to hell to be tortured for eternity.
Because bad things happen in the world, the only explanation for a free will system that is controlled by an all powerful god is that the all powerful god is malicious, not benevolent. What’s my point with all of this? Well, maybe we deserve an evil god.