Thursday, November 09, 2006

Tweety's Revenge

Mills of the gods

Bird watchers have always amused me. My father is a bird watcher. Once I was looking at a checklist bird book he had at home. It indicated that he had seen a bird over in Bellaire, Texas that was presumed extinct. when I challanged him on the point, he would not back down. These are people who will travel hundreds and in some cases, thousands of miles and sit out all day in the rain in the hopes of seeing a particular bird to add to their "life list". They are all a little crazy. So it was no giant step from the usual bird watcher mentality when the founder of the Galveston Orthinlogical Society turned out to be a serial cat killer.

Jim Stevenson, a well known birder, we are told, was spotted by toll bridge attendant John Newland shooting a cat from the inside of his white van yesterday. The attendant hoped in his car and gave chase to O.J., uh, Jim, down FM 3005. Mr Stevenson's van was run down, but he stopped, backed the van into Newland's truck, and fled the scene. The cat died yesterday after vets battled heroically to save its life. The same cat had been shot in the foot earlier in the week by an unknown assailant.

All of this was good news for motorists traveling over the San Luis Bridge on West Galveston Island, as quite a few were able to pass without paying the usual toll. Galveston Police have not weighed in on the propriety of the high speed chase, but for all I know each toll bridge attendant is considered a Texas peace officer.As it turns out, Newland was upset because TEN cats have been shot on the bridge in the past year, including four last week. I don't want to jump to any conclusions, but that is an awful lot of shooting for one man to do. Was Newland acting alone ? Or should suspicions probably be centered on a conspiracy hatched (pardon the pun) at a certain orthinological society. I always wondered what those birders did at their meetings after they showed slides and compared "life lists". It now seems obvious to me that they may have taken on the duty of liquidating bird predators.

And these were not just random strays, living at the San Luis Bridge. Acording to Newland, they were treated by the bridge workers as pets, and all had names. Although the cat who died Wedneday night's name is apparently still being withheld, perhaps awaiting notification of next of kin.This does make an attention defecit disordered mind like mine begin to wander a little bit. If bird watchers are weird, what about toll takers ? What kind of a job is that, standing there at the bridge all day, collecting money, making change and talking to one of dozens of cats, all of whom you have named ? But I digress.

Ten cats are dead, and presumably Jim Stevenson is out on bail awaiting trial for the murder of one and perhaps ten of them. I hope that the Police (or the toll takers) have impounded his white van and that he has surrenderd his rifle to the authorities. I hope that stray cats at San Luis Pass can sleep better at night (as well as during their all day naps). I hope that John Newland is considering running for Sheriff
of Galveston county. A job which more suits his particular talents. But most of all, I hope that this is a wake up call for the FBI to finally start bugging the meetings of these orthinoligists. Today it is just cats. Tomorrow, it might be the little old ladies who keep them and allow them to roam free, a terror to birds everywhere.


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