Monday, October 2, 2017

Leaving Nature Alone

A couple of days ago, I took my ten year-old grandson on a birding walk at South Platte Park.  It was a beautiful, early autumn morning and we were fortunate to observe a large variety of species; among the highlights were an osprey, a large flock of American wigeon, hooded mergansers, a snowy egret and a great horned owl.

Crossing a stream, we encountered a butterfly that had become trapped in the water.  Responding to his empathetic instincts, my grandson pulled it from the creek and placed the insect on a rock to dry, thereby saving its life.  That proved to be a teaching moment and we discussed the positive and negative effects of rescuing wild creatures.

While I admired his compassion, I did point out the ramifications of interfering with nature's web of life.  As a naturalist, I am committed to limiting my impact on natural ecosystems, including resisting the impulse to rescue wild animals that succumb to or are threatened by natural forces.  Unless the creature's plight directly results from human activities or structures (e.g. turtles on highways), I am inclined to let nature take its course.  This may seem to be a cruel approach but the more we interfere with nature the more problems we tend to create.  In my opinion, we humans should focus on protecting natural habitat and minimizing our impact on both the health and the function of natural ecosystems.  The less we get involved the better.