The Great Outdoors

by Melissa Slocum

Summer is here and many of us are enjoying the beaches, state parks, national parks, or even just the backyard. We are likely, at some point, to enjoy God’s creation up close and personal, but recent run-ins with wildlife have some people scared. Though animal attacks are rare, we hear about them more often as urban encroachment threatens their natural habitats. In some developed areas (like Florida and Colorado), animals (like alligators and bears) are forced to roam further away from their normal habitats in search of food, thus encountering more people. Frequent shark attacks are reported possibly because of the warmer water temps attracting more fish closer to the shorelines. Urban encroachment already threatens extinction of many species. The Center for Biological Diversity lists the Loggerhead Sea Turtle of Florida, the White River Spinedace (fish) of Nevada, and the Mississippi Gopher Frog among the top ten US endangered species threatened by human population.


We Weren’t Here First?

It can be easy to forget that humans are not the only creatures who inhabit the earth. It also can be easy to ignore the ecosystems and habitats destroyed by the creation of new homes, schools, business areas, or even recreational parks. Yet, summer is a great time to be reminded of human impact on all the places we choose to explore. Be sure to educate yourself about the local habitats, flora, and fauna and be aware of how your presence might harm local endangered species.



Our state and national parks do a great job educating us about natural habitats and ways to enjoy them without hurting ourselves or the animals. Be aware of simple things you can do to prevent animal attacks like walking designated trails, not feeding animals, and talking to locals about recent sightings of dangerous animals. Being a good steward of all God’s creatures is not just a good thing to do, it’s a godly way to live. God is the source of all creation and is glorified by our coexistence with all creatures, great and small.


Caring for animals and their habitats is not just the job of a few passionate activists. We all are responsible for doing our part to protect the complex ecosystem we share, including other species. Even amid stories of rare and tragic animal attacks, humans have power to prevent at least some of those events by being informed and responsible—especially when visiting forests, beaches, lakes, or other natural habitats. God created the earth for all of us to enjoy, but all humans must work hard to protect God’s gift to us.

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