Smoking kills them too

I started a new volunteer job today led by my favorite naturalist in town, Dave Sutherland. I’ll be helping to maintain a native plant garden next to the Ranger Cottage in Chautauqua Park.



During our orientation this morning, before we hit the gardens, we wandered through the Ranger Cottage admiring the stuffed animals on display–coyote, bear, red fox, barn owl. Dave explained that most of them met their end through accidents, especially meetups with a car.

That’s what happened to a little fawn curled up among grasses in a glass case. She looked as peaceful as this little fellow (thanks, TomFlickrPhotos). Other than being a mule deer rather than a white-tailed–her ears were longer–she looked just about like him.

What made my mouth drop open was when Dave said that smoking had killed her. As small as she is, he said, her stomach was already full of cigarette filter tips. They’re plastic, they don’t digest, and they may or may not pass all the way through the digestive tract.

Filter tips in her stomach mean–and this is the part that astonished me–that she was eating cigarette butts to get her nicotine fix. Addicted already at a few weeks of age.

Where are cigarette butts most likely to be found? By the side of the highway. And where is a deer most likely to be killed? On the highway. Apparently deer gravitate toward roadsides to munch on cigarette butts and meet their end in the next car hurtling down the highway.

Update 4/24/09: A sparrow flying off with a lit cigarette has caused more than $500,000 in damage after burning down a general store in a small town in Britain. The sparrow, trying to build a nest on the store’s roof, apparently carried a lit cigarette butt to the nest. Some 35 cigarette butts were later found in the nest.


One Response to Smoking kills them too

  1. Lara Robinson says:April 14, 2009 at 9:12 pm

    This is so relevant, especially with Earth Day upon us. I hike these same hills, pick up trash, and tell my kids about the dangers of smoking. Seems we’ll have another reason to keep picking up the trash; saving the animals.