By Charles Towne

Ahh, another beautiful day!

This morning as I took my walk I saw a possum. I don’t know what his name was; just that he was a possum. My little possum friend was out for a stroll, meandering along licking the dew from the grass and though I was sure that possums do this I was pleased to see it.
The thought came to me that all too often possums are considered nothing more than pests and of little value, to be destroyed with little consequence and little if any thought or consideration. Sad, yes, so sad.

There is not a creature on the face of the earth that is not in danger of being negatively impacted by that greatest of all predators, man.
The law of eminent domain is still alive and well.

“If it does not serve a direct beneficial purpose to man than it must not be good for anything, kill it!”

That little possum deserves to be protected.

Man has been given a wonderful responsibility. It has been given to us the charge of protector and keeper, and yet how much of our impact has been, if not indifferent, then downright destructive.

Here in Florida, the most desirable land is adjacent to water and the cost of waterfront property soars. The next most sought-after property is woodland.

This in its own right seems benign, harmless. Who wouldn’t enjoy a home set in such surroundings?

But, and herein lies the rub; The threat to wildlife is rarely given little more than lip service if it is considered at all.

The land is considered valuable, but the creatures that have called it home are nothing more than a nuisance, a threat.

Take the alligator for example. He is seen swimming or sunning himself on the shore and the homeowner calls the authorities, and the alligator is removed to be turned into belts, wallets, and shoes.

You might say, “so what, it’s just an alligator!”

But isn’t nature to be protected?

What about the Florida black bear?

A bear is sighted in someone’s backyard and again the “powers” that be are called. The bear is not transported to another, safer area. No, he is killed out of hand as a nuisance animal.

There is no place in Florida where a bear can be transported where he will not be able to migrate back to his home range in a short period, therefore, the state has adopted the rule, “if it is a nuisance bear it is a dead bear. ”

Where does that end? Believe me, when I say, all bears have the potential of being “nuisance” bears? I ask again, where does it end? When there are no more bears?

Isn’t it time for people to be informed, to be told that their call to the authorities is essentially a death sentence for the animal in question.
Some people see little or no value in any of the wild creatures.

I listened recently as a boat owner complained about the no wake laws protecting the manatees on the St. John’s River. To him, the manatee is no more than a hindrance to him and all boaters.
Is that the way all of nature is to be treated, as of little worth, no more than a nuisance to be destroyed?

Bury the gopher tortoises in their burrows so we can have more paved parking lots. Kill off all the snakes; everybody hates snakes!
Soon, altogether too soon, we will one day step outside and be greeted by silence. There will be no bird songs, there will be no threat of any creature other than our kind and we are darned well doing our best to eliminate that threat.

The right to live must start with the premise and the belief that there is also a right to let live.

An outdoorsman’s prayer

  “Dear God, please help us. We don’t seem to care for anything beyond the moment. Help us to realize the value of all life in a time when it seems that life has little or no value at all. When are we going to open our hearts as well as our eyes to the world around us? Poor little people, poor sad little people, poor sad, ignorant little people. Help us, God, to be aware of the fragility of all life, and open our hands and hearts to the needs of all the others. We have the way, but it seems we lack the will. Yes, help us, inspire us. Thank you. In Jesus’ wonderful and Holy name. Amen.”


Charles Towne is first and foremost a Christian. An octogenarian, author, journalist, wildlife photographer, naturalist, caregiver, and survivor, his life has been and continues to be, a never-ending adventure filled with possibilities never imagined. He has adopted the philosophy that to Live fully, laugh uproariously, love passionately, and learn like there is no tomorrow, is a formula for a long and joy-filled life.


  1. Black bears, moon bears, grizzly bears, brown bears, sloth bears, polar bears, Chicago bears, and cuddly warm soft teddy bears….who doesn’t love bears, especially the bear in the photo above?

  2. Panda bears, Care Bears, Paddington Bears, Solar Bears, Clay Springs Elementary School Bears, Koala Bears, Beanie Baby Bears ???

  3. Mama Mia, How about the kermode bear? They are quite unique in the sense of their various color variations. They run from white to black and even yellow and blue, really! The bear that I didn’t really care for was when I was 6 or 7 I was caught committing some minor infraction, (I think it was the time I put the dead rat, or was it a dead snake?) in my teacher’s desk and she paddled me on my bear, (I know, it is spelled bare) behind in front of the entire class. (That wasn’t very good for my self esteem.) Oh yes, and you forgot Smoky! Chaz

  4. Good stuff Chuck. I would think owning a boat, living in the forest or near the water is so special because of the proximity it brings between you and wildlife. I find that these things would be less special if there was nothing to see or hear.

  5. Darn, I didn’t think of Smoky. Teacher gave you a good whacking, huh? Yes, I was raised during that era too, when the teachers were allowed to whack butts. I had one teacher that really had a mean attitude, and you didn’t want to cross her, if she had a bad day. Whew….!

  6. Thanks Tim, you are so right. The thing to remember is that we don’t have to travel long distances to enjoy nature up close and personal. In our area we have the Wekiva river that holds a vast assortment of wildlife. Such diversity is rare and just waiting to charm the nature lover. Go down to King’s landing, rent a canoe, and spend a day on the river. Believe me when I say that you will enjoy the time you spend in this riverine habitat. Blessings, Chaz

  7. Hi Charles, l learned something new from you today about the fate of bears in Florida. I always assumed if someone made a call about a nuisance bear, it was relocated and it lived happily ever after somewhere else. Maybe more people need to know about what actually happens. Someday maybe we will all live more consciously and respectfully with our animal friends. I also liked your observation of the possum. Our lives are enriched when we take the time to appreciate the creatures around us. Thanks!

  8. Mr. Towne, I might deserve to get whacked now days, but that was fourth grade, when I had that mean old battle ax of a teacher, that apparently hated her job, all of us too, and had such a nasty, hateful attitude that when she went ballistic, her eye balls even popped out of her sockets, so it seemed, and her face turned dark red. I was a sweet girl, and extremely shy, even though that is hard to believe now, if you know me. She scared the crap out of me. I was too intimated to do anything bad in her class, as I saw how she dealt with the others, so I didn’t get whacked by her, but the few other whacks, I received, came much later in high school here in Apopka……true.

  9. looks like you let’em have it about consideration for God’s creatures that we are to care for! There are a few that I don’t like to be in my space but most of them have their own habitat. I dare say we have probably chased them out of theirs so they at invading ours.

  10. Didn’t someone once say, ” love one another and do unto others”? In truth I believe that mans sense of self-importance, his arrogance blinds him to many things, the beauty of nature and the importance of all God’s creatures being a couple. I do try to be a good christian but my list of nuisance people is MUCH longer than my list of nuisance bears!

  11. Richard, some of my favorite people are bears! One thing I have a hard time wrapping my head around is the fact that so many so called intelligent people get all rabid about gun control and yet allow tens of thousands of abortions to take place every year in our wonderful country. It just seems a mite out of balance to me. Chaz

  12. Mama Mia, bless you dear lady! You remind me of Mrs. Runkle, my second grade teacher. She attempted to teach us the three R’s, as well as music. That was way back in the dark ages when they had bands made up of tinkling triangles, clacking castinets, and sticks. Yeah, that’s right, sticks that some dummy would click together. I couldn’t even play the sticks. You might say I was somewhat musically challenged. To be perfectly clear, it isn’t Mrs. Runkle you remind me of, it is the fact that I never could get the sticks right, always out of tune! Chaz

  13. Dear Kristin, watch for it. I am going to write an article about the way bear problems are handled in Florida as opposed to some other states. I so appreciate your comment, it was so… reasonable! Chaz


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