Get your facts straight

As some of you may know, I recently moved to the sunshine state. Growing up in a small town in Indiana I didn’t have much to fear. You could leave your keys in your car, leave your house door unlocked, and you knew all your neighbors. It was a feel good kinda town with little worries, especially when it came to wildlife. For the whole twenty-five years I spent in Indiana, I never came across any wildlife that could be harmful to me, such as spiders or snakes. In fact, I didn’t fear much at all! I felt safe with my family and  friends just living a few short miles from me.

Despite all of the comfort we had in our small home town, my husband and I had adventures on our mind. My husband applied and got accepted for a new job position. With much thought, consideration, and prayer, we decided to trust Gods plan for our lives and take the leap. God always knows what our hearts truly desire doesn’t He?! So we did it. We closed on a home five months later and moved. We packed up our belongings and our two dogs and we drove for 18 hours watching the sunset in Tennessee and then watching the sunrise in Georgia and finally arriving in Florida. As many of you can imagine, we were very excited for our new life, but what we got, we could have never imagined.

Before we left we heard lots of, “but what about the alligators, crocodiles, snakes, and panthers?!”  As much as I love the great outdoors and what she has to offer, it was a little daunting knowing that I would be living so close to these creatures that I really knew nothing about. So as I always do, I did my research and I did it to a great extent. I found every documentary on Netflix, I read books, and I read articles online about Florida and the great wildlife that resides here. Come to find out, the wildlife has more to fear of man than of man to wildlife. Did you get that? We are more of a threat to them than of them to us! In fact, according to an article by the National Wildlife Federation,

“There are few places left on the planet where the impact of people has not been felt. We have explored and left our footprint on nearly every corner of the globe.  As our population and needs grow, we are leaving less and less room for wildlife. “

 

Since I have been living in Florida for a little over a month now, I see now that threats to wildlife are alive and growing every single day. I live in southern country, so every now and then I get the blessing of seeing an amazing creature, but sometimes they are dead. They are smashed by cars that decided to drive way to fast or not pay attention for wildlife crossing from one side of the road to the other. I see trash such as plastic, cigarette butts, glass bottles, and fast food wrappers every single day no matter if I am walking along side of the road or if I am at a wildlife refuge or state park.You can find the impacts of trash on wildlife here https://www.mspca.org/animal_protection/preventing-conflicts-with-trash-and-animals/.  I see and hear about over exploitation. I see with my own eyes the damage we are doing to our environment.

Animals only want to protect their young or their territory. If you get too close, as with our own instincts, they go into protective mode.

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This is a picture I took of an alligator near Everglades City. I made sure to keep my distance and use a zoom lens to prevent any unwanted behavior from this guy.

We all know that nature is beautiful. It has its own way of pulling us in for another sunrise or sunset. If we could all just look past the judgements that are made on creatures, such as the alligator, we can learn to enjoy them and appreciate them for who they are and keep them around for future generations to enjoy. It seems like we are losing our grip on what nature provides for us. Nature is more than a beautiful sunset along the beach. Nature is misquote bites, sunburns, tired and achy feet. Nature is seeing animals live in their natural habitat versus a cage inside the pet store. Nature is supposed to be a clean environment for humans and animals. Let’s start recycling and picking up unwanted trash when we see it. Let’s not support poachers by buying that leather purse or belt. Let’s start standing up for those who can’t speak, but most of all, stand up for what nature means to you personally.

I expected to be afraid of the wildlife when I came here, but instead it has been the wildlife that has captured my heart yet again. Nature has proven to me that man truly is a destructive and selfish creature only looking out for his next dollar to be made. Fortunately, not every man is like this and there are people who support what is right. Are you going to be one of those people, or will you sit back and let future generations grow up having no idea what it is what like to hike a trail with God’s creations He made just for nature? If you have a calling and love for wildlife and nature, get outside and take a hike. Go support your local park, because those donations/fees are what keeps nature alive. Be the change for those who do not have a voice. Be the change so that our kids can grow up with wildlife just as we do. It’s time to start figuring out what nature means to you. My husband and I  got more than we could have ever imagined moving here, and we are so thankful it has opened our hearts to our true passions.

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An eagle soaring high at a national panther wildlife refuge.

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