You often hear about people buying exotic fish and reptiles, only to flush them when they don't want to take care of them anymore. It's tragic and inhumane, and some people try to do better by releasing these animals in outdoor areas where they think they'll be ok.

The thing is, dumping these pets into environments to which they aren't native can cause serious ecological problems. The species could prove to be invasive, or could introduce some element that throws an entire ecosystem out of whack.

In an effort to protect the ecosystem of the San Marcos River, conservationists have created a pond for people wishing to humanely surrender fish they don't want or can't take care of.

People who want to do the right thing but aren't sure how or where are invited to surrender their fish at the San Marcos Discovery Center's fish pond.

KXAN spoke with conservationist Erick Weeks, who said many of the abandoned fish found in the river compete with native species for space and food. Some also physically alter the environment, which can threaten the habitats of already endangered species.

I chose to share this story with you not only because I like to see efforts made to humanely surrender pets, but also because it's a reminder of the enormous impact seemingly harmless actions can have on the beautiful lakes and rivers we're so blessed to have here in Texas.

We've all got to do our part to be good stewards of the land, so if you ever find yourself with a pet that's outgrown its tank or that you aren't sure how to care for anymore, please reach out to local experts for advice before doing anything rash.