The Pacific Pond Turtle.
Most people in California have no idea
A Lesson in our Judgement
and Evaluation of Life.
That they are sharing territory with the Pacific Pond Turtle--
The only freshwater turtle in the state.
(There may be a possibly extinct Mud Turtle
Originally recorded from the Imperial Valley.)
This species is struggling now, competing with introduced species.
Certain ethnic grocery stores freight in the Southern Painted Turtle and the Elegant Slider.
They are imported for human consumption,
But, sadly, many are kept as pets, only to be released or are escapees.
Other ethnic groups buy many to be part of a religious service and are then released.
People often feel 'sorry' for captive creatures and good-heartedly 'let them go'.
As with all unwanted (by the knowing) introductions,
The 'culprits' have no idea the huge harm they are causing
To the long established native species,
Resulting from the generally unequal competition by those introduced.
There is no good judgement nor proper evaluation
Of these innocent acts which cause this basic biological chaos,
Because the majority of us do not take the time nor care
To learn the flora and fauna of our own ecosystem,
Thus allowing these thoughtless acts to occur around us.
Humans formerly knew well their surroundings
In order to gather and hunt food, collect materials to construct or build,
And knew what was safe and what was dangerous to their lives.
There are so many stories of visitors hiking and resting in a patch of poison oak,
Or swimming in an unknown river with a dangerous current,
Or consuming a mushroom that causes a fatal end,
Or bringing in foreign plants, because of homesickness or because 'it looks nice'.
To learn one's surroundings takes time and patience,
But the joy of understanding one's 'place' and its inhabitants,
Is boundless and is helpful for one's own being
And the protection of fellow creatures (including plants!).
Frank Maurer 11 July 2023
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