I killed a baby rabbit today. I was cycling into work when it happened. I need to be at my post by 5am, so I pretty much have the roads to myself at that time of day. It was the carrion crow and the large black-backed gull that I spotted first, dancing and pecking around something at the side of the road. Then I spotted the bunny between them, spinning itself in circles whilst its back legs dangled limp behind it. It must have been winged by a car or lorry.
The birds quit pecking at the bunny, and flew off, once I was on top of them. I lay my bike on the verge and stooped to pick up the doomed little thing. It squealed like the devil before I swiftly despatched it by banging its skull forcefully down on the asphalt. I threw the body on the verge, so the birds could pick at it at their leisure, without having to dodge vehicles. I closed my eyes and said a prayer for the little tike’s soul.
I was raised on a small council housing estate in a very rural village. I was therefore, to some extent, a country boy. I know how to catch a rabbit with ferret and nets, or with a snare. There was a time, when I was younger and fitter, when I could catch one with a stick, after stalking them alongside a combine in a field being harvested. I can dispatch a rabbit, quickly and painlessly, even without the aid of asphalt. I know how to prepare and cook them . . and I know how good they can taste. I’m experienced at viewing, and using, rabbits as food. Yet killing a wounded rabbit in the road, an act of mercy that I’ve found myself performing twice in two years, feels different these days. I’ve lived in towns and cities for too long, and the death of an animal now saddens me, sometimes deeply. Would you believe I say a little prayer for them everytime I euthanise them or see them roadkilled these days!
This morning’s incident got me thinking. If a man-made or natural disaster causes an extreme TEOTWAWKI scenario then there could be a lot of people hungry for bush tucker. Somewhere as overpopulated as England, where I live, is likely to very quickly witness a crash in the wild bird and mammal population (much like during the war, or the Great Depression). The countryside will be positively packed full of hungry urban folk, who are desperate to catch and kill them some bushtucker. It will be a steep learning curve for them, but learn they must. And once the raided stockpiles have gone, once the carefully cultivated vegetable gardens have been trampled, once the bushtucker is rare . . cannibalism must surely follow.
My only hope is that, long before a population crash due to famine, there will be a population crash due to illness, disease and the consumption of untreated water – preferably while the hordes are still urban, still trapped in their towns and cities.
A positive thought for a Monday morning, eh!