Jumping to conclusions [Editorial]

The thing about frogs and turtles and the efforts to be environmentally conscientious is that they're integrally related.

For many people, an appreciation of nature, the great outdoors and the balance of a natural habitat doesn't grow out of spending time reading about far off places, or because of a particularly inspiring classroom experience. While those things can spark interest, childhood experiences chasing and catching frogs, turtles, lightning bugs and any number of other things are also inspirational.

Certainly, wild animals – even things like frogs and turtles – do not make good pets, and there are problems associated with people who engage in wanton behavior when they come in contact with frogs and turtles. Still, frog expeditions have been part of childhood experiences since at least the days of Mark Twain, Spanky and Our Gang and Dennis the Menace.

Kids who have an appreciation for backyard wild things are apt to grow into an adults who have an appreciation for the big picture when it comes to wild things and the great outdoors.

It therefore continues to be a bit odd that there was opposition – albeit no protests this year – to the annual frog jumping contest and turtle race associated with this year's Bel Air Fourth of July.

The events have been part of the celebration for generations, and there's been no compelling evidence to suggest they do any harm to the local frog and turtle populations.

That doesn't mean the concerns of the people who have expressed opposition should be ignored. Indeed, wild animals like frogs and turtles need to be treated with respect and released, unharmed, to their places of capture after the events. There are also protocols that should be followed to prevent infections from spreading from kid to animal or vice versa.

Possibly, rather than protest the event, those opposed can lend their expertise in matters associated with proper handling of such creatures and help increase among members of a new generation the knowledge of wild things. To some extent they have already, and hopefully that education process continues.

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