As naturalists and nature lovers we find ourselves drawn to all living things. We adore, and more importantly respect just about every organism in our natural world. So what happens when we are faced with the dilemma of protecting our native species who have become threatened by an invader. A similar outlook may come into play when the situation of overpopulation arises, and hunting or trapping becomes a necessity. Such as in the case of the nutria.
To some, the thought of destroying a beautiful plant or terminating the life of an animal is incomprehensible and heart wrenching. Why and how could anyone be so cruel, some might ask? That tree is magnificent, shady, and the birds and critters love it.... why would you want to cut it down? That cute, little pig is just minding its business... it has a heart and feelings. Why should it be euthanized? Some of us say, oh sure, if I were ever in the position I would be able to do what is best for the greater good of our natural flora and fauna.
So, say you happen upon this invasive or overpopulated species, and now the moment of truth. Do you really have the guts, or the heart, to do this???? Well guess what, it should be acceptable either way. We should not feel pressured by others and we should not judge those who are put in this predicament. But we
should take action and get a handle on things none the less. After all, we still have a job to do as naturalists, to help restore balance and order in our untamed environment. Some of the unbalance is due to humans in the first place. Should we have the need, there are professionals and probably acquaintances who would be willing to handle the situation knowledgeably and ethically. We should all be able to work together at any task, with respect and without conviction, when it comes to matters of the heart and personal morality. Don't be afraid to ask for help or lend a hand. We're all here to enjoy the extraordinary outdoors and keep it majestic!
Photographs (c) Erin Bryan, used with permission.
LMNGBR President, Katherine Gividen, was recently interviewed on the Baton Rouge Sierra Club's Environmental Update radio show on WHYR Community Radio 96.9 FM. They talk about various aspects of the Master Naturalist program, back yard nature, cool places to visit and more. Even Jane Seymour (A.K.A. Jane Patterson) gets a mention! :)
Ok, let’s talk truthfully about butterfly nets. When I first heard that I should buy one for a class, I had to laugh at myself. My mother always told me to be wary of people who have butterfly nets (maybe that was a warning to me personally) and now I was actually going to purchase one! I’ve worked in a couple of psychiatric wards over the years and we never used one on a human even when we went to pick someone up, but apparently in the early 1900’s it may have been part of the practice. Who knew!
I went ahead and ordered one, because I didn’t want to not fit in with the other people in my class who were also going to run around with a butterfly nets. After I received it in the mail, I was so excited to try it out. It felt good in my hand, to swing it around in the air, to sweep it from side to side and imagine that I could now catch unsuspecting Lepidoptera (butterflies, moths and skippers for you regular folks). I pictured myself swinging the net gracefully in the air and catching one, plucking it delicately out of the net, holding it lightly in my hand, and then eventually letting it go with the butterfly grateful that I allowed it’s release. The butterfly whisperer I would be called. This was going to be fun!
But wait, I had a better idea! I decided to bring it with me to visit my daughter who lives in a ritzy neighborhood. Instead of knocking on her door, I decided to run around in front of her living room window to show her all of my new butterfly netting techniques. There I was in an upscale residential area, in front of her living room window with my net, sweeping it from side to side, swinging it around in the air and even doing the moon walk with it! Eventually she came outside before the police showed up and asked me what the hell I was doing! I crack myself up sometimes!
So the big day came to use my new net. There was definitely an overabundance of butterflies at Allen Acres, a beautiful bed and breakfast planted with all varieties of native plants. I looked for the user manual to show me how to use my new net, but I couldn’t find one. I guess I will just have to “wing” it. I saw a beautiful gulf fritillary and ran after it. It saw me coming from 20 feet away and flew off. I ran after another one and it zipped off in 2 seconds. Do you know that the speed of a butterfly can be as fast as 12 miles an hour! I only run 4.2 miles per hour on my treadmill, so fat chance that I could catch one! They also seem to have super vision and seemed to know when I moved an eyelash in its direction. Hold on here, did I just read that butterflies have compound eyes with 6,000 miniature eyes in each eye! So that means they run 3 X’s faster than I do and have 11,998 more eyes than I have. I must be crazy to try and catch one. I give up.
Sadly, my butterfly net was eventually retired, never having had a butterfly to grace it. Months later, my young nephews came over to fish in my pond and asked me if I had a minnow net. Well, yes, I think I do, a white one. It did make a remarkable minnow net.
Signed the UnNaturalist