By Charles Towne
Ahh, another beautiful day in Central Florida!
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 morning stroll as I was, 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, fascinating creature that he is, possums are considered nothing more than vermin, or walking road kill, 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.
It is obvious to me that the law of immanent 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, so kill it!”
That little possum deserves to be protected as do the rest of Papa God’s wild creatures.
Man has been given a wonderful responsibility and opportunity, that of caretaker and protector of nature and yet how much of our impact has been, if not indifferent, then downright destructive.
Here in central 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 beautiful 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 back yard and again the “powers” that be are called.
Contrary to what you are told 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, and that includes the Ocala National Forest where a bear can be transported where he will not be able to migrate back to his home range in a short period of time therefore the state has adapted the rule, “if it is a nuisance bear it is a dead bear. “ Where does that end? With extinction? 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.
There are many people who see little or no value in any of the wild animal.
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 because we all know that 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 own kind, and it seems 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 and an obligation 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 minded people, poor sad, ignorant little people. Help us God, to be aware of the fragility of all life, and open our minds and hearts to the needs of all the others. We have the way, but it seems we are lacking 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.