In Defense of the Powers that Be
About ten years ago in mid July, I was heading out the Fen. Near the parking lot, the trail crosses a small stream. A father and his grade-school aged son were standing on the bridge. Sploosh! They threw something from a cooler into the stream.
"Hi. What are you throwing into the stream?"The cooler contained several more rusty crayfish, an invasive species that's been causing lots of environmental problems in waterways around the country. I was concerned. Clearly the father and son felt that they were doing the right thing. They could no longer take care of their pets, and they were releasing them into a sanctuary where they would be, presumably, be happy. Fortunately, the father was readily talked into not releasing any more of the crayfish onto the nature preserve.
"My son took these crayfish home from his classroom at the end of the school year. We're setting them free."
I appreciate the supportive comments that I got regarding yesterday's posting about my trip to the woodshed, but I need to make a confession here. My sympathies actually lie with the people who were expressing concern over what I had done. The Chicago area nature preserves exist in a very densely populated part of the world. The large number of folks that live here embrace an enormous range of views about nature and wildlife. Some of them are well thought out. Some have their basis in common misconceptions and are correspondingly flawed. Others have the potential to be downright harmful.
When I scattered seeds of an endangered plant on a nature preserve, I was doing so with a larger knowledge base than many people who might do something of this nature. It was an appropriate species for the habitat where I placed it. The fact that the consequences were mild suggest that this was taken into account. Still, we can't have rampant release of organisms onto these tiny remnants of Illinois' original ecosystems. I have no doubt that the consequences would be much more significant if I were to continue to flout regulations of this sort. That's appropriate.