"When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the
rest of the world." ~ John Muir
|By KAAY. Click on photo for full citation.|
Sometimes the answer to a problem seems black and white.
But it's important to consider the gray areas.
For example, dogs are man's best friends.
I don't have a dog, but if I had to choose one nonhuman animal to accompany me in a survival situation (and I couldn't have a horse), that animal most likely would be a dog.
|By Michael McPhee. Click on photo for full citation.|
Many of my friends, and most of my family members, have dogs. They're cherished members of their nuclear families as well as our larger extended families.
|By 4028mdk09. Click on photo for full citation.|
We don't want them to hurt or to suffer in any way. That's a black-and-white issue for most of us.
And then there's the issue of the disappearing monarch butterflies.
It's easy to put off thinking about them until next year or until they're endangered. Or worse, yet, to give up and think there's no hope for them, or to simply not care. There are so many factors stacked against them. And all they are, afterall, is ... butterflies.
It's not like they're man's best friend.
|By Vindhyana. Click on photo for full citation.|
This issue is a little more gray.
Consider the words of John Muir at the beginning of this post: "When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world." Are monarch butterflies "canaries in the coal mine"? What impact would their extinction have on the rest of the world? Put another way, are their disappearing numbers trying to tell us something?
So much has been published about dogs and butterflies, and most of us care deeply about both of them. Again, black and white.
Unfortunately, what helps one species harms the other:
- Monarchs need Milkweed--that's all the caterpillars can eat;
- But Milkweed is toxic to dogs.
Of course, I mentioned to the dog owners that Milkweed is toxic to dogs, so they'd have to be careful where to plant it. Frankly, that brought the enthusiasm about planting Milkweed down to about a one or two, on a scale of one to 10.
My goodness, I can't blame them. A dog is a part of the family. Dogs chew ... on just about anything. Dogs that chew on Milkweed might get sick. Black and white, right?
I'm terrible at sales--especially in situations where I completely understand the "No, thanks." So when a dog owner says, "Oh, well, I can't grow that because my dog might eat it," I give up.
But this post is about the gray areas. If you have a dog (or a horse, or an outdoor cat, or any other mammalian pet), but you also care about monarch butterflies, consider the gray areas before you give up on the monarchs.
Here are just a few ideas on how pet owners can protect their pets and also help prevent monarch extinction:
- Plant Milkweed in fenced-in gardens that your pets can't reach;
- Support organizations and public gardens dedicated to supporting and protecting the monarch;
- Volunteer at a nature center to help maintain monarch habitat; or
- Consider rearing monarch caterpillars in a safe container or tent, away from predators (including pets). Click here for instructions on how to do it.
If you have other ideas on how to protect both pets and monarchs, please add them to your comments.
For more information about the status of the monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) and how you can help, visit the World Wildlife Fund or the Monarch Joint Venture.
Monarchs have been on our minds and featured on our blogs more than ever this year, because they're "near threatened," according to the World Wildlife Fund. Man's best friend is, arguably, the most important and cherished species for human survival. But there are gray areas--ways we can support both.
For months now, the song "All I know," written by Jimmy Webb and popularized by Art Garfunkel has been going through my mind. It's a simple song, really, and some might call it overly melancholy. But I find it powerful and wise in its simplicity. It applies to human interactions, but also to how all earth's creatures--including man and his best friend--interact and "bruise" each other. Here's to working on the gray areas, and making the bruises less severe.
(For a poignant video set to the music of "All I Know," click on the picture below.)