After giving it a great deal of thought, I decided that releasing the tadpole was the most humane thing to do. I cared for it to the best of my ability for the last 2 weeks and it survived. However, it was starting to look a bit peaked; so I felt his freedom was of the utmost importance. My neighbor showed me where Paulie, the Pollywog’s original pond is located; so we released him back in the wild today. The poor creature just didn’t look happy and it is my belief that wild animals should remain in their natural habitat. It has become my tradition to photograph nature and leave it as I found it, not capture it and potentially cause suffering. I’m hoping that I can somehow impress upon these children in my neighborhood that the best practice in observing nature is in preserving it at the same time.
Update: June 27, 2011
According to the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency: “In Tennessee, no one is allowed to keep any animal as a pet taken from the wild, which to many people’s surprise includes tadpoles, frogs, lizards, snakes, turtles, baby birds, squirrels, raccoons, and young deer. If the animal is injured, call the nearest of TWRA’s four Regional Offices for a list of permitted rehabilitators, who will keep the animal until it can be returned to the wild. If it cannot be returned, the rehabilitator will turn the animal over to someone with a special Educator’s Permit, who may be able to use the animal in a classroom or teaching setting.” ~ Source: http://www.tn.gov/twra/faqmain.html