How about that West Point Mouse Release video ?

In case you haven’t seen it, after spending several sleepless nights sharing a room with a mouse, a big-hearted West Point cadet decided to catch the little trespasser and release it in a nearby field. His friend recorded the event. The video begins with the cadet shooing a mouse out of a plastic container, saying, “C’mon, Whiskers! You’re free! Good luck!” as the mouse runs out and across the field. As the cadet tells the camera, “I’m relieved … but I’m kinda sad, too, I just got to know him,” a hawk enters, stage left, grabs the mouse, and exits, stage right.

“No!” cries the cadet. “He didn’t even last five minutes!”

It’s a rough world out there.

My heart goes out to the cadet (the hawk is probably awfully fond of him right now, too). I feel badly that he felt badly, and I want him to know that not only do a lot of us love and admire him for doing the right thing by the mouse, but we feel his pain as far as the outcome.

Releasing any wild animal is essentially rolling the dice. As a wildlife rehabilitator I’ve always wanted to believe that if I put enough time, energy, and devotion into healing a wounded creature, our combined karmic payback will insure that it will live out its life well-fed and trouble-free.

But this is not always the case. Carefully rehabbed seals are released, only to find an orca waiting silently beneath the water a hundred feet away. Rabbits scamper into the underbrush, only to encounter a coyote nobody saw standing there. I once raised 5 orphaned blue jays, released them, and was happily watching them fly around my house one afternoon when a Cooper’s Hawk blazed through, grabbed one, and disappeared. It’s hard to maintain one’s circle-of-life philosophy when that happens.

But we do. What’s our choice?

Naturally people question the video’s credibility, especially after that stupid and damaging eagle-snatching-a-toddler hoax by a Canadian college. It certainly looks real to me, and we all know hawks are no slouches when it comes to opportunism. Here is the video.

In any case, I think I can speak on behalf of all rehabbers and nature-lovers when I say to the West Point cadet: we salute you.

Red-tailed Hawk flying with food by Walter KitunduPatch the Red-tailed Hawk with prey
by Walter Kitundu

Written by Suzie
Suzie Gilbert is a wild bird rehabilitator whose shameful secret is that on more than one occasion she has received a female LBJ, or a fledgling whatever, and has been completely unable to ID it. Luckily she has birder friends who will rush to her aid, although she must then suffer their mockery. She is the author of her bird-rehabbing memoir Flyaway (HarperCollins) and the children's book Hawk Hill (Chronicle Books). Her recent suspenseful, bird-filled adventure novel Unflappable (Perch Press) was selected by Audubon Magazine as one of their Three Best Summer Reads of 2020. She lives in New York's beautiful Hudson Valley and is always up for a good hike.