A Failure of Humanity

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Walking along the Millennium Trail in Prince Edward County today, we found a snake. This isn’t unusual on its own. We see lots of snakes when we’re out geocaching, although those sightings are getting to be a lot less frequent this close to the end of October.

What was unusual was the state of the snake, a gartersnake that, stretched out, would probably only be about sixty or seventy centimetres long. Dark green, bright yellow stripes, lighter yellow underbelly. It would have been a beautiful little creature if someone hadn’t run over it with a golf cart (ATV?).

It was mostly upside down when we found it and until I very carefully prodded it, I thought it was already dead. Another roadkill casualty, well, trail kill. Road kill disappoints me and sometimes saddens me, but it doesn’t surprise me much anymore. I drive too much to think of it as a rare event.

Except when I did gently prod it to verify the absence of life for the teenage daughter I had with me, the tip of the tail flicked back and forth as if the snake might be trying to move or escape.

All told, the injuries I could see made a short but horrible list. Two major gaping wounds in its flesh and these matched up with places where its back was obviously broken. Jaw broken and hanging open. I don’t think it could see. It could only move about the back quarter of its body and most of that not more than a flex.

The amount of pain flooding its nervous systems isn’t something I’m able to contemplate, much less calculate.

It’s very likely that whoever ran over the snake didn’t even see it. Distracted moving from one hole to the next and eager to get in those last few swings of the club before the weather turns to winter permanently. That said, it’s also possible that whoever was driving the cart ran over the snake on purpose and didn’t check to make sure they’d actually killed it.

I have never, and will never, understand the mindset that allows someone to take pleasure in hurting or killing another living thing. But I want to give the cart driver the benefit of assuming negligence rather than malice. Except I’m not sure just how much better that might be. So I want to default to pure accident. It jumped out in front of the golf cart and the driver didn’t see it in time, and also didn’t check to see what had happened afterwards or, if they did, couldn’t finish what they’d started.

Sometimes, I’m very disappointed in some of my fellow humans.

Be well, everyone.

And check under your wheels as best you can.

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