A few months ago we had the opportunity to educate and meet hundreds of people at the Arcade Trade Fair. This event is always a great chance to make new contacts and talk to people in our own neighborhood about the wonders of nature.
This year at the trade fair I was standing at our display with a red tailed hawk on my arm next to another Naturalist with a barred owl on their arm. We were both busy talking to the guests at the Fair about our respective birds, enjoying teaching about their roles in the environment. Suddenly a comment came from the well dressed, seemingly intelligent older gentleman that made me take a step back. As he and his wife were delighted to be so close to the beautiful owl, the gentleman turned to me, looked at Orion and said “The only mistake they made when they protected these owls is that they also protected those guys” pointing to the hawk.
A bit astonsihed at the comment, I had to ask where such a negative comment came from. “One of them eagles took out one of my calfs last year. If it was legal I would have shot the #%&*@ thing!” Wow! What a self centered, misinformed comment. But not the first time I had run across a person with such lack of knowledge. That is why we are here. To get the truth out.
Could an eagle take down a large calf? A golden eagle probably could, but a bald eagle which is what we have in our area, probably can’t. The eagle probably found the dead calf on the ground that was probably killed by some other means and saw a free meal. This rancher never did see who killed the calf, he just assumed it was the one eating it. In that logic we could say that the snails and the beetles were the ones who attacked and killed it.
We see this mentality quite often when wildlife “interferes” with our lives. If a groundhog is digging holes in our yard, it must be an enemy because he is targeting our pristine lawn. If the deer is eating our garden plants it must be targeting us alone.
What everyone needs to realize is that we share this world with a wide variety of species. Our habits are interfering with their lives just as much as they are interfering with ours. We all need to learn to share this planet with everyone and everything. Whether they are a beautiful owl or a lowly star nosed mole, they all have just as much right to be here as we do.
Lets all try harder to share our planet better. Take care of nature and learn to love in unison with it.