Thursday, February 12, 2009

Wrong On So Many Levels

From the AP this morning. Maybe you saw it?

VIENNA, Va. – Thomas Shepler, a hand surgeon, shot a hawk to death in his backyard when he said the bird was eyeing a young squirrel that he and his wife had helped raise.

Shepler, 65, said the hawk had previously killed an adult squirrel near his suburban Washington home in Vienna. When the doctor tried to chase away the bird over the weekend by yelling and throwing a crowbar at it, the hawk didn't leave the area.

So Shepler got a shotgun and killed it.

A police officer heard the shot Saturday and Shepler was arrested. He was charged with discharging a firearm in public and cruelty to animals.

Shepler says he cares about animals and is feeling a lot of anxiety and embarrassment over the shooting.

The good doctor might feel even more anxious if they bring Federal migratory bird charges against him...!

But I'm just curious about this guy. What do his actions suggest about him?

Here's a man educated about as well our civilization can manage it, a qualified scientist who is doubtless also a skillful artisan. Yet he admits to throwing a crowbar at a hawk to rid his neighborhood of its menace. Somehow that strikes me as even stranger than shooting it... Was the crowbar just the nearest thing at hand? Or did he think it would make an especially effective missile and go retrieve the crowbar from its peg in the garage?

Whatever the case, he ultimately shoots the hawk for allegedly "eyeing" his pet squirrel. If it were my story, I would at least have the hawk "vigorously chasing" my pet squirrel as I explained why I had to kill it.

Perhaps I'm over thinking this. Maybe the guy's wife wouldn't settle for anything less than extreme prejudice in addressing her concerns about the hawk. ("Alright, alright--I'll take care of it!") I can attest there's little a husband won't do to make Momma happy.

But what if this was his idea alone? What if it seemed the rational and right thing for a well educated suburban man to do, given the circumstance? How weird is that?

The choice of criminal charges against him is another issue entirely, weirder still.


Heidi the Hick said...

My biggest problem is that it's a darn squirrel.

I'm a critter person... but squirrels? Seriously? Not an endangered species... quite an irritating varmint.

I'm so tempted to say that I wish his aim went off a little but I fear being yelled at for such an insensitive comment.

Oh wait, I sort of did say it, didn't I?

Peculiar said...

A Steve can verify, we had a neighbor in Bozeman whose wife chased robins around the yard with a hammer. The hammer was not a missile weapon, mind, and the robins were little perturbed. That family's missile weapons were reserved for skunks, and could be nauseatingly effective. But that's probably worth a post of its own (Steve?).

I agree that a crowbar seems a strange choice however you imagine the incident. Perhaps the choice of an impracticle fellow who had never yet in his life had a serious need for a projectile.

Gregg Barrow said...

Obviously an upper middle to upper class neighborhood and a good chance that the cop was there on an extra job working security. It’s the norm for the home owners association to pay these guys to spend extra time patrolling, and most depts. allow them to do so in uniform and the use of their patrol vehicle. Even if he was on duty, the scenario is the same. They do double duty in the better neighborhoods and the goal is to address anything or anyone that appear to be out of the norm.
Gunfire would meet this criterion.
Not the case on my street, especially during deer season.

As far as the doctors’ train of thought goes, he was exercising his right of dominion over his little kingdom, an attitude of entitlement that is so pervasive today.
The cop threw everything he knew to throw at him (I’d bet money that he has no understanding of Federal migratory bird protections or he would have tossed that in for good measure) because they know that “if and when” it goes to court, a lawyer will have it whittled down to a misdemeanor, if not tossed completely, so they always load it up on the front end.

Why the crowbar?
No clue. I’d have to dig through the rubble in my shed to find one. But I do know where my gun is.

At the end of the game the answer is; Dr Shepler, in the backyard, with a crowbar, and Colonel Mustard has been redeemed.

Now who’s over thinking it :-)

mdmnm said...

Greg Barrow wins the internet for today!

I hope they do end up bringing a Federal charge, if nothing else for the sake of education and because "cruelty to animals" surely won't fly at trial. As to the crowbar, I'd bet it was the nearest heavy thing to hand and he was a bit freaked at seeing nature red in tooth and claw on his own doorstep.

Steve Bodio said...

He was a doctor-- probably surgeon, a Mastr of the Universe.

He is probably against guns.In a more rural environment he would be feeding bears and letting his dogs run loose.

Neil used to kill skunks coming to get the buried fish in his garden-- unfortunately right outside our window-- by lyng in wait on his balcony,with bouldrs stcked on the railing. When he bombed one at 2 AM it could be disconcerting-- a cowboy whoop followed by the stench invading our windows. Neal COULD use a post-- our home- town George Leonard Herter.

Moro Rogers said...

If the squirrel was really his pet, I'm sure he could have found less drastic ways of protecting it.
I guess I'm kind of biased, though. I'm pretty blase about squirrels and other feeder-patrons.

Cat Urbigkit said...

The crowbar seems logical enough to me. But then again, I once watched my husband defend himself with a bright blue stick horse as he was being attacked by an extremely pissed off muskrat. You use the tool at hand ...

Steve Bodio said...

Forgive my pre- dawn, pre coffee spellings. But I see he WAS a surgeon (;-)

Heather Houlahan said...

Since my better half has not weighed in, I'll do so for him.

A scientist? -- come on now, the man is a surgeon.

He went to an expensive trade school.

mdmnm said...

Muskrat v. Blue Stick Horse-
did you offer help, advice, encouragement, or laughter?

Cat Urbigkit said...

I was screaming with laughter! No help at all.

Anonymous said...

Guys, guys...a CROWbar is the perfectly logical choice! Aren't crows always harassing hawks? And why was this tool named "crowbar" in the first place? Perhaps it's original use was for falconers to pry their birds loose from their prey? But was supplanted in time for it's more common usage in modern times--to pry terrier/bulldog breeds loose from other dogs!....And yes, I can sympathize WHY this fellow was trying to protect a SQUIRREL from a HAWK, though I wouldn't expect a bunch of falconers to sympathize! I raised an orphan baby squirrel(my widdle Adjidaumo), and after weeks of bottle feeding and stimulating and cleaning up bowel movements at all hours, gradually acclimating the cute and affectionate little booger to life outdoors, the last thing I would want to see is a hawk dive down and nail my little baby on release day! But I doubt I'd have KILLED the hawk for it--just thrown a lot of crowbars(they function better in flocks)....and being a DOCTOR does not automatically make one expert or sensible in ALL areas--I once had a doctor tell me he had a WOLF visiting his yard in an upscale, urban neighborhood in North Carolina--not exactly typical wolf habitat. I asked him to describe the animal he was seeing, assuming it was most likely a coyote--he perfectly described a Red Fox! When I told him it was a red fox, he shrugged and said, "they're about the same thing, aren't they?". I sure hope this doctor is better at distinguishing between, let's say, an appendix and a liver!....L.B.

Anonymous said...

"I sure hope this doctor is better at distinguishing between, let's say, an appendix and a liver!"

Well since he's a hand surgeon, let's hope he never encounters either while he has a patient on the table. I once knew a husband/wife team of Harvard/Yale trained MD's who told me that they had hired a trapper to kill a beaver in their newly acquired country property because they didn't want it to eat their cat. APH