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OUTDOOR TRUTHS: Our Ecosystem Is Changing

By Gary Miller

I can remember years ago thinking how neat it would be to have lots of bears in our area. I knew we had some and every now and then one would be spotted on camera and it would make news. Even though I deer hunted within their roaming area, I never gave much thought as to whether they would bully my deer into the next county and take their turf. Boy was I wrong! My trail cam pictures have let me know there’s a new sheriff in town, he’s a little more ornery than the last one, and the town’s not big enough for both. It seems the deer that do come around now are a lot more afraid of the bears than they are the hunters. The ecosystem is about to change.

The bears are not the first animal in my area to move in. The elk did a few years ago with the help of the local fish and wildlife agency’s moving van. Just a few years before that, the turkey was in that same van – each one of them released in the same area; the same area my bears want now. Even though we all can get along, there are going to be times when the pressure of living too close to one’s neighbor is going to test the resolve of the hospitality of each resident. The ecosystem is changing.

What goes for four-legged animals also goes for the two-legged ones. My area has changed over the past several years. Many people have left and as of late, many others have moved in. The faces have changed along with the traffic. And the diversity is substantial. They have come from every part of the country and even from other countries. They bring their own needs for accommodations but also a positivity that has been lacking since the last economic downturn.

As a lifelong resident, I can bemoan the fact that I’m losing my turf to another gang. I can bemoan longer lines and slower traffic. But as a Christian I can thank God for bringing to me what I would normally have to go find. People! People who have needs and questions. People who are searching for authenticity and truth. People who will need to find hope when failure comes and life when it seems circumstances have stripped it away. People who need Jesus. The ecosystem is changing and I like the change!

Gary Miller can be reached via e-mail at

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