I recently "rescued" a sea gull with a broken wing. I approached it while I was riding my bike on a very busy road filled with speeding wood-laden trucks and various other vehicles. The bird ran from me as well as it could, dragging its broken wing behind it; and as sea gulls are much more efficient at flying than walking, this was quite a feat. I managed to scare the creature off the road as well as I could, as I felt it was much safer in the fields beside the road, than on the road. Then I went home, feeling a little better with myself, as I believed I had helped the creature.
The next morning I was driving my Jeep to work along the same road, and lo and behold, there was the same (at least I think it was) gull wending its way along the road, a full 3/4 kms further along from where it was the night before. It had survived a full twelve hours on a very busy roadway. I was carrying a cat cage in the back of the vehicle, and I successfully captured the bird.
My philosophical quandary occurred shortly thereafter, as the local wild animal reserve, in consultation with the vet (who said the wing would never heal correctly, and the bird would be permanently disabled), made the decision that the creature should be killed by lethal injection. I, who had been the supposed hero, did not do anything further to prevent the death of the animal.
My quandary? Did I do the morally "right" thing in interfering with the "natural" course of events? Should I have "rescued" the bird again from the vet who was going to kill it, as I had already interfered in the "normal" run of events by rescuing the creature in the first place? I firmly believe that in some far future time we (humans) will attain a state where all life forms will be considered sacred, and the death of any creature, caused by another either by action or inaction, will be considered an immoral thing. Believing this, I know that any person "visiting" from that future time will be morally bound by their time, as anyone from today who "visited" the past would be still bound by our beliefs and laws about murder. How should I have acted?