By Juliana Di Leonardo
This week, my organization Humane Long Island worked on two unusual cases regarding wild animals, one native and one quite exotic.
The first was a Eurasian Lynx, a large wild cat native to climates like Siberia and the Himalayas, found roaming Islip, Long Island, only minutes from the sordid wild animal encounter my partner wrote about last week. The second was a yellow warbler, a native bird protected by the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act, stuck to a glue trap in one of Nassau County’s wildlife preserves.
Tamed, neglected, and far from their natural habitat, the Lynx had been harbored illegally before escaping or being abandoned to our suburban, concrete jungle, visiting homes in search of food and shelter and running feverishly anytime they were approached by the public. Rescued by Suffolk County Police after several days on the lam, they are now recovering before their final destination, which we hope will be Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge or The Wild Cat Sanctuary, two Global Federation of Accredited Sanctuaries facilities we have secured who have offered to rehabilitate this marvelous animal and give them as close to a natural life as possible on acres and acres of natural land.
The yellow warbler was not as lucky. An insectivore, he became stuck to a glue trap that in turn had trapped countless insects who were tearing themselves limb from limb trying to escape. He was then preyed upon by another predator which thankfully did not also get trapped itself. After we spoke with the preserve, we learned that the glue traps were part of a high school study, but following our insistence, they were removed, along with others from nearby parks, providing a tragic but teachable moment for the student who had left them behind.
In our modern, technological age, it’s become very clear that we often forget animals have their own jiva, or souls, and rather than treating them as individuals yearning for autonomy, we choose to treat them like machines. We, as a society, know that exploiting other humans is wrong and have moved away from sideshows that profited off people with disabilities, but with non-human animals, we continue to enslave healthy animals making them sad, psychotic, and sick as well as destroy their habitats and harm them in even areas we claim to be preserves.
Unlike humans who can travel and live in other countries around the world, wild animals are created in ways that require a specific climate and geography. They are independent and don’t require assistance to thrive while in an environment that suits them perfectly, their original home. They simply require our respect and non-interference.
For this week’s Anuvrat, I encourage you to vow never to utilize glue traps or poisons that not only do himsa or harm to intended species but also cause collateral loss of life throughout entire ecosystems. Then take a walk in nature and clean up any litter you may find along the way. Soak in the beauty of the natural world and leave it more natural and beautiful than when you arrived.
Juliana Di Leonardo is the Vice President of Humane Long Island. She is a yoga and ballroom dance instructor, model, and artist. Her advocacy for animals exploited by the fashion industry was credited in the 2021 documentary “The Face of Fashion is Fear” and recognized by PETA with a Hero for Coyotes award.