So the idea for this post literally came to me when I was driving to the store to buy more children’s Tylenol to care for yet another ear infection in our household.
It had been raining all day and the creeks were overflowing their banks creating tiny rivulets of muddy runoff across the road as I drove. I noticed something in the road and in a split second recognized it for what it was, a turtle. I pulled over, hit the flashers and pulled my hood up, ready to help the defenseless reptile.
I got about a foot from the animal when I realized two things very quickly. First, he was much larger than I had realized at first. Second, he was no garden variety turtle. He was pointy, quick-moving and at the moment entirely pissed off that he was being disturbed by me. Oh, and he was also a snapping turtle.
I stood there in the rain debating. I didn’t want to just leave him. But at the same time, he was hissing and turning in circles following my every move. I finally decided to nudge him just a little bit with my shoe. Wham! he snapped so fast I am surprised he didn’t take my shoe with him. At this point several cars had slowed down to observe the ridiculousness of my attempts to “help” this turtle. I was soaking wet, and feeling thoroughly chastised.
The take away message is one that those of us in conservation tend to forget. We get so caught up in trying to “save” or to “help” that we often forget that there are times when it is best to simply do nothing. Many species have been getting along just fine without us and will continue to get along just fine without our help. Not that we don’t need to engage in conservation, we certainly do, every single day. But in the grand scheme of life, we can not be nor should we stress out about being responsible for every species that crosses our path, especially when many that do, are very capable of getting across the road just fine without our help.
A lesson well learned.