Sunday, September 25, 2011

Learn before you speak, Miss PETA

This is an open letter to PETA and Miss PETA person, a.k.a. Debbie Downer, who wrote The Montgomery Advertiser to decry the use of eagles in Auburn University’s pre-home game Eagle flight ceremonies, an inspiring tradition that’s been called one of college football’s best.

Lindsey Pollard-Post of the PETA Foundation in Norfolk, Va., wrote: "The crash of a bald eagle named Spirit into a window during a forced pre-game flight at the Auburn Tigers' stadium on Saturday is a sad example of how animals suffer when we drag them into human celebrations.

“The screaming fans, air horns, music and booming sound systems of sports games can be stressful, terrifying and disorienting for animals. If given the choice, bald eagles make their homes near lakes, rivers, and quiet forests, far away from human disturbance.”

Pollard-Post wrote the letter the week after Spirit, AU’s bald eagle, made contact with a luxury box and slightly buzzed some excited fans before Auburn’s game against Mississippi State. Debbie Downer, I mean the PETA person, then said the school should retire the birds to sanctuaries.

First, I’ll just say leave our eagles alone and mind your own.

Secondly, know what you are talking about before you talk or write, comment, exaggerate or advise.

Some points for the letter writer and PETA:

• Spirit, the American Bald Eagle, and Nova and Tiger, golden eagles, live at Auburn University’s College of Veterinary Medicine’s Southeastern Raptor Center, the oldest and only medical and surgical wildlife rehabilitation facility in the Southeast dedicated solely to raptors.

One of the first War Eagles, circa 1977, Photo by Gordon Bugg
• The eagles have been cared for and loved and have been flying for fans at Jordan Hare Stadium for more than 10 years.

• No Eagle has ever been hurt in the making of this War Eagle tradition.

• Spirit was not hurt by the contact with the luxury box. Spirit is not forced to fly anywhere, and could fly away if he wanted. However, Spirit could not survive in the wild.

• Spirit was found injured in Florida in 1995 and was brought to Auburn in 1998. Spirit made his first flight in Jordan-Hare in 2001. He is not releasable because of his damaged beak.

• Southeastern Raptor Center works in cooperation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to rehabilitate and release injured and orphaned raptors, educate the public about their role and importance, and to research raptor-related issues.

• At SRC, raptors are admitted with a variety of injuries and ailments. Many birds are rehabilitated and released. When release is not possible, the bird may become a permanent center resident or transfer to another educational facility.

• In addition, Miss Animal-Lover-with-No-Common-Sense, Auburn University is a vet school and agriculture and animal science research institution with strong schools and a history of innovation in agricultural, animal science, forestry, fisheries and wildlife studies. Auburn is so closely associated with the land and animals that some among our cross-state rivals call us the Cow College. (And, for the record, we don’t think that’s an insult.)

You see, Miss PETA, places like Auburn and the SRC do the work that you and PETA only talk about.

Because of land-grant, research universities like Auburn -- where researchers and students concentrate on the science of animals, wildlife, trees, plants, birds and raptors – animals and people are better off – and FALLEN EAGLES, THEY CAN FLY.

Picture of the day:

Mary Claire Walburn with AU eagle in the early 1990s.
This may be Tiger, who is now 31 and retired.

Song of the day:
When Fallen Angels Fly
by Billy Joe Shaver

There's a story in the bible about the eagle growing old
How it grows new sets of feathers, then becomes both young and strong

Then it spreads its mightly wing span out across the open sky
We will have the wings of eagles,when the fallen angels fly