Now and again those who regularly enjoy observing Nature find themselves witness to some animal or other in a state of peril. If the danger is man-made, such as an animal entangled in plastic, then the justification to provide assistance is to me at least pretty clear. If on the other hand I witness an animal in peril from a predator then, as brutal as it is, I do not interfere. (An exception is a wild animal at risk from a domestic cat which I consider not to be part of the ecosystem.)
Seems pretty straightforward doesn’t it?
I thought so to, until yesterday. Walking along the forest road I encountered an unharmed but motionless smooth/common newt apparently in the process of crossing to reach a drainage channel. (The newt is circled in red in the image.)
So what? This is normal behaviour in the Spring – waking up from hibernation and wandering about to feed and find a mate. But then I ran smack into the glass door of a philosophical dilemma; do I just walk on and leave it to it’s fate at the wheels of the next logging lorry, or pick it up and carry it across the road?
It could be picked off by a predator in the wet grass anyway, so why worry?
I walked on. Then after about 40m I turned around, went back and picked up the animal between two clumps of wet sphagnum moss and carried it across the road. (The wet moss was used to cushion and protect it from my hands. Amphibians are cold-blooded so the heat from human skin can be a shock.)
I had decided that the logging road was man-made and shouldn’t have been there anyway. Although the common newt is, well, common, I didn’t think I’d be doing much harm giving it a little helping hand. And it meant I could continue my walk in peace from my conscience. 🙂