Sharp Blue: “Roger, splash one squirrel”


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The sound was a little like a book falling from a desk. My parents and I were sitting in the living room drinking coffee after lunch. At first, I thought that our cat had tried jumping onto my desk again and knocked something onto the floor. I checked around and nothing seemed disturbed. Then, slowly, I realised that it might’ve been on of the traps being triggered. I’d expected a louder noise when that happened, but within a couple of minutes I’d pulled the ladder down from the loft, switched on the light and, with some trepidation, started to climb the steps to have a look around. The first trap I checked was still active. The second was in a dark corner so I had to go to get a torch to see it clearly. When I did, the small circle of light showed a furry body with a long bushy tail protuding from the metal box. It wasn’t moving, which was a great relief - I’m not sure if I could’ve handled a still living squirrel struggling to extricate itself. In any case, that’s one confirmed kill; and also the first vertebrate in whose death I’ve played any active part. Now we’re waiting for the pest control officer to return to take away its little corpse and to reset the trap.

I am reminded of the occasion when I was working in a pea processing factory, and a barely-live toad came tumbling down the production line. Letting it live seemed the cruelest option.

I recall the crunch of its skull under my boot-heel. For a few minutes I felt an intense tingling sensation in my limb, like electric eels were mating in the leg of my pea-stained overalls.

Then there was the rabbit that, fleeing the ferret intruder, got caught up in the nets we had laid across the emergency exit. When I snapped its neck the eels danced over my arm once more, but I soon became accustomed.

Now, how did the taxonomy go? It's ten years since I did Biology GCSE, but I can still remember: kingdom animalia; phylum chordata; class mammalia... maybe I should try primates next?

I find this post and this situation interesting, since I am aware of your usual views on harming living creatures.

It isn't often in life that we have to rank our morals, luckily, and the ability to do so and live with yourself is probably one of the hardest things to do. As is the actual ranking one of the hardest decisions to make.

In this case, you have put the comfort of your ill father ahead of your desire not to harm living beings, since his ability to rest at this time should, most of us would agree, come ahead of the lives of some rodents. So well done on doing the right thing even though it is personally difficult for you.

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