Dave Ferrell stopped when he heard strange noises during a forest cycling trip in Florida. As a retired cop, however, he was no stranger to sounds of distress, so he followed the calls. And when Ferrell found the source, he realized that a little life depended on his next move.
It’s fair to say that Ferrell is an avid outdoor enthusiast. Whether it’s hiking or kayaking, he likes to surround himself with nature. However, it was during a cycling trip on the Tallahassee-St. Marks State Trail in Florida that he could put his skills to the test.
That’s because Ferrell used to serve as supervisor of the Tallahassee Police Department’s Bike Squad. However, despite having retired from the job, his days of protecting and serving are apparently not yet behind him. Even today, he’s still quick to answer a call for help – no matter where it comes from.
Meanwhile, Florida’s capital city Tallahassee is renowned for its close connection to the countryside. In fact, it boasts many areas where prospective fauna lovers can spot animals in their natural habitat. The Apalachicola National Forest even borders the city.
And wildlife-spotting areas are common in Tallahassee’s rural areas, providing ample opportunities to see rare animals. Visitors can potentially spot red wolves, black bears, deer and alligators. If you’re lucky enough, you may even see a Florida panther or an elusive bald eagle.
So while Tallahassee is the perfect place for a lover of the outdoors like Ferrell, that’s not all it offers. The region also boasts plenty of hiking, canoe and cycling trails. And on a summer day on August 17, 2018, Ferrell took advantage of the latter with a bike ride.
In particular, the retired sergeant decided to cycle down the 20-mile Tallahassee-St. Marks State Trail. The popular route snakes from Tallahassee and ends in the city of St. Marks, near the Gulf of Mexico.
“This was the first rail-trail in Florida’s system of greenways and trails to be paved,” Florida State Parks writes on its website. They add that it provides “a scenic experience for running, walking, bicycling and skating.” But Ferrell discovered more on the trail than he had expected.
Ferrell was enjoying the beautiful scenery on the route when he heard something unusual. The noise was akin to crying, but it didn’t sound like a human. Regardless, the creature making it was clearly desperate, so the cyclist stopped to search for it.
And Ferrell didn’t have to look very far, as he spotted the source of the noises shortly after. They were coming from a small shape lying right in the middle of the bike path. The distressed animal was a baby raccoon, and it was in a terrible state.
“[The raccoon] was in bad shape laying in the bike trail [with] flies all over him. He wasn’t long for this world,” Farrell later wrote on Facebook. And the cyclist knew he had to do something. What, though, if the baby’s mother was looking for him?
With that in mind, Ferrell scouted the area, desperately trying to find the raccoon’s missing mommy. Unfortunately, his efforts were in vain. Wherever she was, mom was now long gone – and so the cyclist felt that there was only one option left open to him.
“Well, mom was nowhere to be found,” Ferrell wrote on Facebook later that day. “And I couldn’t leave him out there for the [coyotes] to finish off.” So, he tucked the baby inside his backpack and went to look for help.
In the meantime, Ferrell’s new friend seemed very comfortable in his unlikely surroundings. “He really relaxed and enjoyed the ride in that [backpack],” the cyclist said of the raccoon. Ferrell later found the assistance he was looking for at the route’s trailhead.
Help came in the form of a member of the Tallahassee Police Department. Lieutenant Mike Abbey met with Ferrell on the route, where he handed over the raccoon. And Abbey kindly played chauffeur during the next part of the kit’s VIP journey.
The next stop was a local animal rescue center, the St. Francis Wildlife Association. Abbey left the raccoon in the capable hands of the center’s expert veterinarians, who began treating the kit’s parasite infections shortly after his arrival.
The poor raccoon was riddled with a fly infestation, and such an affliction put the little animal’s life in grave danger. “He had a ton of bots and fly larvae on him,” the City of Tallahassee Police Department later wrote on Facebook.
Better known as botflies, “bots” are a species of insect that lay their eggs on hosts. Thankfully, Ferrell’s rescue was in the nick of time. “We are happy to report the baby raccoon was cleaned up,” the Tallahassee Police Department concluded.
Emily Shaw at the St. Francis Wildlife Association agreed that the animal was fortunate Ferrell had arrived in the nick of time. In her opinion, the raccoon would have suffered a bleak future without his intervention. “[The raccoon] almost certainly would have died if [Ferrell] had not found him,” she told The Dodo.
“He is doing fantastic,” Shaw said in an update to The Dodo. Hopefully, then, the kit will be introduced back into the wild when he’s fighting fit. And it’s all thanks to retired sergeant Ferrell, who proved that all lives matter – no matter what shape they take.