Tuesday, August 9, 2016

254. Remember our place in the natural order

In another miserable story about animals, a mama black bear was euthanized for protecting her cubs in the Valles Caldera National Preserve when a marathon runner came across her and frightened a cub.

According to reports, there is a state law that requires authorities to euthanize any wild animal that attacks a human being. Sadly, the orphaned cubs, if found, will grow up in a nearby wildlife center.

As horrible an experience as this was for the runner — and I imagine it was quite terrifying — it is a growing trend that we have created a natural environment that for every event or incident, no matter how rare or natural, there needs to be swift and often deadly action.

Human beings might be surprised to know we don’t live in a bubble. The natural world, what’s left of it, deserves the opportunity to live and exist according to evolution. There is probably not a stronger instinct, from the lowest animals to human beings, than that of a mother to protect her young. After all, that is the purpose of life — live, reproduce, and protect.

Can’t we just accept that sometimes things happen? The fortunate part of the story is that the runner survived; the rest of the story is human arrogance. When a human being ventures into areas where animals live, there is a chance that you are going to come across a bird, a snake, a wolf, or even a bear.

What purpose did it serve killing the bear (I know they have to test for rabies, blah, blah, blah)?

The mama bear was doing exactly what almost any mammal would do. It is not like this bear exhibited a propensity to attack human beings. The bear protected her family, with her life as it turns out, as most would. Why is that a death sentence? Why does a human being have more of a right to run along a trail in the wilderness than a bear has to protect her cubs?

I hate to break it to modern society, but we are animals! We are not the fastest or the strongest animal; we are the most intelligent. But we are still just animals, made up of cells with DNA, almost exactly like other animals. Just because we have the ability to run roughshod over the planet and amuse ourselves for hours with our cell phones doesn’t mean we don’t have similar instincts, relationships, and basic life necessities as those who share our ecosystem.

Animals deserve respect for the lives that human beings have largely outgrown. Animals can’t order fast food when they are hungry. They can’t lock their doors at night. Animals live their lives as we used to, spending large portions of their days looking for food and water, building homes, searching for reproductive partners, and raising their offspring under the constant threat of danger.

Nature and animals in particular have become human ornaments. Communities decide which animals, and how many will live. If a community decides that too many deer are eating flowers, their populations will be reduced. Zoos put animals in prison and kill them when human beings are negligent enough to enter their cells. We have created parks and wildlife preserves but act too much like an animal — kill for food or to protect your family — and the animal will be quickly euthanized.

It’s arrogant, heartbreaking, unjust, and cowardly. Can we get over ourselves long enough to accept that we are just part of this beautiful planet? Unfortunately, as beautiful as nature is, it is also treacherous and dangerous sometimes. The existence of all living objects on this planet requires the transfer of energy and nutrients, and for carnivores that means killing other animals. Survival of all living objects of this planet revolves around reproducing and protecting offspring, and that sometimes means fighting predators.

Of course, we’re so smart that the most dangerous human predators are not black bears, they are other human beings. But when we are not killing each other, we are still part of nature — and that means sometimes nature wins. Sometimes the bear kills us, sometimes we are victims of hurricanes, sometimes we fall to a virus.

Sometimes things just happen.

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