In late January my friend Mia and I made the drive to the Promontory area north of the Great Salt Lake in a quest for Golden Eagle photos. We did find some eagles but were definitely unprepared for what else we stumbled upon.
Second warning – most of these photos are graphic and may be profoundly disturbing to some. If you proceed further in this post, please – no complaints about what you’ve seen. You have been twice forewarned.
A misleadingly idyllic scene
What we found was the kind of country that I love – wide open spaces, big skies, blissful silence and isolation. The setting reminded me of the area around Cut Bank, Montana where I grew up.
Tree of death
So what a shock it was to come around a bend in the dirt road by this little reservoir and find such a horrific scene! Someone had apparently shot two Red Foxes, a domestic cat and a Common Raven and deliberately hung them in this tree right next to the road as some sort of a sick trophy display.
First Red Fox in tree
This Red Fox had been hung by its neck in a fork of branches.
Second Red Fox in tree
This one was simply draped over a stronger branch, very close to the road and with no obstructing branches between the fox and everyone who was forced to look at it as they came around the curve in the road.
Cat impaled on fence post
Just a few feet away from the tree, this cat had been impaled on a metal fence post.
Yet another cat in another tree
Very close to the tree of death, another cat in another tree. And just down the road there was a coyote hanging on the fence line.
A friend of mine who had seen some of these photos contacted the Humane Society of Utah and their chief investigator asked me for more information about where and when the photos were taken so I made a trip to his office and filled him in on what I knew and provided him with most of the images I’ve posted here. He told me that desecration of wildlife laws, among others, had likely been broken and that the incident would be investigated. I called him yesterday to check on any progress and he said that the local sheriff and Utah DNR officers had visited the site, took more photos and then appropriately disposed of the carcasses. Investigation is continuing.
Some may ask why I needed to post such graphic photos and so many of them. After all, wouldn’t just one distant shot of the animals in the tree be enough to illustrate the situation? I don’t think so. My intention here was to shock to some degree, to not downplay the horror of the scene, to in some small way help to galvanize the reaction of a small portion of public opinion to the conclusion that animal abuse, desecration of wildlife and wanton killing should be unacceptable and laws designed to prevent such practices should be strictly enforced. I hope you agree…