Should I Feel Bad?

DogFaceI didn’t sleep a wink last night. I’ve been worrying about the information I gave a young couple yesterday afternoon. I’m probably going to go to hell for what I did, but it’s too late to atone for purposely distributing misinformation. I hope Lucifer is prepared for such an evil person as myself. Because when I get there I’m taking over.

Before I get into all the details, let me give you some background information.

I am a volunteer at Moapa Valley National Wildlife Refuge. Across the street is Warm Springs Natural Area, owned by Southern Nevada Water Authority. The properties are separated by a two lane road. The area is populated with warm springs and numerous streams where the endangered Moapa Dace resides. Due to the terrain I cannot see much of the area across the street, but I can hear a lot of what’s going on, especially if the visitors there are loud, as they were yesterday.

The entities in this area are trying desperately to save this small member of the minnow family. This small Dace is found only the warm waters of this area, the headwaters of the Muddy River. No where else in the world does this fish reside. It’s been on the endangered species list since the list was first compiled in 1962, and through the concerted efforts of caring human beings, the population of this aquatic creature now numbers in the neighborhood of 1500. We need to be able to say that they have increased their numbers to over 6000 before they are taken off the list. Needless to say, we do not allow swimming, wading, sitting in, or in anyway disturbing the water that this small fish calls home.

Yesterday, about 3:30, I was wandering our trail and had stopped to argue with the hummingbird who has taken it upon himself to be the guardian of the feeder when I heard them arrive. A loud vehicle pulled into the small parking lot across the street and disgorged a box of loud music, and even louder people. They hadn’t been there very long when I heard a loud splash. That made me curious. I figured I’d check it out.

As I walked back towards where I had parked, I heard a female proclaim, “I just saw someone.” She’s right. Through the foliage I, too, had caught a glimpse of another person on the opposite side of the road.

I started the pickup and drove out our gate, proceeding westbound towards our service entrance, thus passing the parking lot of the Natural Area. Before getting to the lot I happened upon a young couple sitting on a bench near the roadway. This area also happens to be home to a very large pool of water.

I stopped, exited the vehicle, and approached the fence. “You haven’t been in the water, have you?”

A young man was sitting on the bench, pulling on his socks and shoes. His pants were wet. “No, sir.”

“That’s good. We don’t allow swimming around here since this is home to an endangered fish.”

The young lady standing near the water stammered, “I’m just looking for my dog.”

I looked down at two ankle biters running around, and replied, “Well, you have two dogs right there.”

“I have a third dog I’m looking for.”

“Oh, what kind of dog are you looking for, in case I see it.”

“It’s a small chihuahua.”

This is where I began down the path to an eventual seat at the foot of the devil. “You better be careful around the water then. We have turtles here and they’ve been known to take down small animals.”

The young man, beginning work on affixing his last shoe to his last foot inquired, “How big are they?”

I held up my hands to indicate a creature about twelve inches in diameter. The young lady stared wide eyed and gasped when I said, “They’ve got a helluva bite, too. If one grabs hold of you, you’re going to know it. And it will definitely leave a mark.”

The young lady quickly went off in search of her missing dog and the young man hurried the process of pulling on his footwear.

Now, I didn’t create a complete lie to tell these visitors. We do have invasive turtles in the waters, and they can get to about the size I had indicated. However, they’ve never been known to eat small animals, except the fish. They will bite, though, and I imagine they might leave a mark, but I do not believe they are as vicious as I let on.

I’m not sure the young man got his shoes tied, and I’m pretty sure the young lady found her missing critter, because they were packed up and gone in five minutes.

It was not my intention to chase them away from such a beautiful setting. I just didn’t want them splashing around in the water, and they really should have had their dogs on leashes. They could have stayed until I locked the gate at 5:00, but they probably had business to attend to elsewhere. At least I hope that was the case.

Should I feel as bad as I do about what I did? What do you think? I’d like to get a decent night’s sleep tonight, so the sooner I can resolve this internal conflict, the better.

Good night, Mrs. Jackson, wherever you are.