Tuesday, August 14, 2007
PATERSON, N.J. -- Members of a Buddhist sect bought hundreds of eels, frogs and turtles and set them free in the Passaic River, hoping they would survive in the once-polluted stream and realize their karmic potential. The act did nothing for the karma of the state Department of Environmental Protection, which said the Amitabha Buddhists did not have a permit and may be subject to fines up to $1,000.
Permits are required for releasing critters into the wild, and New Jersey is reluctant to issue them for anything beyond stocking fish ponds because of concern that nonnative species could harm the local ecosystem.
"We're dead-set against it," DEP biologist Mark Boriek told the Herald News of West Paterson. "It's even illegal to stock any kind of carp or goldfish in New Jersey in a place with an inlet or outlet." The Passaic has been cleaned up in recent years and Boriek said the animals released Sunday might have a chance of survival.
Authorities said they had not found members of the New York-based Buddhist group yet, but the newspaper said it talked to one member, Ann Chin. She said their intent was save the animals, bought in New York's Chinatown, that had been destined for dinner tables. "When I pass by the fish market, I cry," Chin said. "I tell people: 'Stop killing them.' Then: 'Don't eat them.' Then your heart goes to mercy."
No matter what our life style, we can do this practice. It benefits those who offer the gift of life as well as those who receive it. And regardless of what religion we practice, its result will be strengthened if the practice is concluded with an aspiration that all beings without exception enjoy happiness and a life free from any harm.
When releasing animals such as bait fish, insects, earthworms, please make sure that the species you are releasing are native to your location. For information about native species, please go to your local Environmental Protection Agency.
If finding species native to your area presents a problem, please seek alternative ways to do the practice. The meaning of life release is protecting and saving lives, and its scope can be broad as long as this principal goal is maintained. Here are a few suggestions for alternative ways to carry out the life release practice:
Donate money to agencies saving human lives, such as Save the Children initiative.
Donate money to your local wildlife center that rescues, rehabilitates, and releases injured wild animals.
Donate money to a No-Kill center that protects lives of animals that would otherwise be euthanized.
Donate money to centers protecting lives of specific animal species, such as horses.
Donate money to the Animal Liberation Sanctuary.
Donate money to a farm animal sanctuary.
Adopt a cat/dog or a guinea pig. Some animals, if not adopted, are put to sleep.
In urban areas, consider composting your garbage with worms that you could save from being used as bait.
A buddhist tiger