Editorial: Sometimes the road of good intentions is paved with hell

As the snow continues to pile up around the eaves of many Manitoulin homes a number of Islanders are taking to feeding the deer, concerned that the population will be decimated by not being able to reach food sources and, weakened by malnutrition, will succumb to starvation and/or the rising number of four-footed predators in our region.

Too often this well-meant philanthropy towards the deer population backfires, either through the impact of inappropriate foodstuffs messing with the deer’s metabolism and lessoning their chances of survival or by making the local deer population too dependant on their erstwhile benefactors.

There is a world of difference between the breaking of trails and making traditional browse more accessible to the Island herds and supplying them with corn or other high impact foodstuffs. The delicate balance of Mother Nature’s plan is too often thwarted by the well intentioned actions of would be saviours.

Sometimes we have to recognize those boundaries.

The best and most appropriate course of action when harsh conditions appear to be facing wild animal populations is to consult the experts. Of course with the advent of Facebook strategists stepping up to the plate with little to no actual science backing them up, it has become popular to discount those who have data and years of intense and practical study of deceptively complex systems in favour of those whose proclamations fall closer to our own gut reactions. 

It’s early days yet in this social media universe we find ourselves in, but history teaches us that the reactionary responses of a mob rarely bring with them positive results.

It is difficult to simply stand by and let nature take its course, but often Mother Nature has a much wiser plan than we humans are equipped to understand—our gut instincts were formed in a much different environment.

Let us start to once again recognize the inherent value of science and in-depth study and, in the case of what to do about threats facing wildlife at the very least, defer to those who have dedicated their lives and careers to the study of the subject.

Sometimes we must restrain our finer instincts, especially when those who have more information than we do tell us that we will be doing more harm than good. It isn’t easy, but that old adage is too often true. The road to hell is paved with good intentions—so let’s not make the deer population suffer just so we can make ourselves feel good and noble.

Listen to the experts and don’t feed the deer anything but browse.

Remember, Mother (Nature) usually knows best. Humanity too often messes with her at its peril.