I promise this is a tale with a happy ending…………
It was near the end of July back in 2010 and we woke to an odd smell on the breeze. We were soon to find out there had been a massive oil spill on the Kalamazoo River just south of us. A million or more gallons of oil (no one can say for sure the exact amount) flowed into the river, destroying the river, contaminating animals and forcing people from their homes. The oldest country kid was just four at the time but he took it very hard. He has always been a very sensitive child and animals being effected broke his heart. He begged to help the animals, but he was only four, how could he help?!?!
In the early days of the spill, the company responsible, Enbridge, did nothing for the animals effected, so we quickly got in touch with a near by wildlife rescue group that was going out to collect oil covered animals and clean them. I was thrilled when they said our son could help too!!! He manned the donation table as supplies started coming in. He lifted, carried and stacked supplies as oil covered geese were slowly starting to trickle in. That is until the DNR shut the rescue down stating Enbridge, the company responsible for the oil spill said that they would NOT be responsible for the wildlife clean up if the independent rescue groups didn’t cease their efforts. Ummm WTH!?!?! Yeah, you all know what that means. My son stood by and watched as the DNR officer removed the oil covered Canadian Goose they were about to start cleaning.
We went to a “town meeting,” where my son “protested.” He was taking the whole thing very hard. He wanted so badly to help the animals effected by the spill. And then On August 14, 2010 he got his chance to make a difference, even if it was just for one animal. We were at a friend’s home near the river and a nest of snapping turtles hatched in their yard. By the time we found “Snappy” as he/she was named, all the other hatchlings had already made it to the river. Snappy was the last one to hatch out and was heading away from the river….. We decided that we would take care of Snappy till we could return him to the wild. Little did we know it would be almost three years before that day would come.
Now you never really notice how people and animals that you see day in and day out change over time. It wasn’t till Snappy was two years old that we noticed he was finally getting bigger. But was he big enough? The “cuddly” cartoon watching snapping turtle was beginning to get, well, snappy! One more year we said….. We will give him one more year to grow…. The whole time we kept telling our son, Snappy is NOT a pet. But how can you not love something that has been in your life for so long…..
Three years, hundreds of fish, and the heart of a boy. A boy who just wanted to help…. And he may have helped more then he even knows. The turtles that were covered in the oil, that did eventually get help, and were released…. will have fertility issues. No mater if Snappy is a boy or a girl…. His DNA and ability to breed will be so important for the future generations of his species and their continued presence on that stretch of the Kalamazoo River… and that my friends is thanks to one little boy who cared.