Recently my older daughter and I camped in the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge, near Lawton, Okla. Part of the trip’s delight was seeing all the new babies on the Refuge: bison and longhorn calves, fawns, goslings and prairie dog pups.
Growing up on a farm, it was not unusual for us to raise wild babies and then release them back to the wild. We had pet crows, a skunk (briefly), rabbits by the score and even a coyote pup that we raised to adulthood and donated to the zoo. But my parents always made sure we were aware these were wild animals, not pets, and they were to be treated differently than our household cats and dogs.
I was reminded of this when my daughter and I were photographing the chattering prairie dogs with their inquisitive babies. A school bus full of children disembarked and I was pleased to note that the kids kept their distance from the pups. It would be hard NOT to want to pocket one of these adorable little guys, but it’s important to respect all of nature, and that means letting it be the nature it was intended to be, and enjoying it from afar sometimes. The kids did a great job of watching without encroaching on the watchful mothers and their babies.
Observing nature and wildlife is no less an interactive act than hiking or fishing. What you absorb in the outdoors reduces stress, clears your mind and most importantly, makes you aware of the interconnectedness we all share. Hopefully that awareness leads you to care for, protect or even fight for the care and preservation of our outside spaces. Giving back is all part of the interactive process.
If you haven’t been out lately, I encourage you to get out and find your place in the outdoors! Take your camera, a camp chair, a fishing pole, or just an open mind.