When a discussion arises about endangered animals and wildlife conservation, it might seem like a job for scientists and non-profit organizations, and they definitely play a critical role and are a large part of wildlife conservation. However, it is important to remember that there is a lot that we can do locally and as individuals as well.
Here's a quick guide on ways to help endangered animals, starting at home:
Learn about local endangered wildlife
Make an effort to learn about the behaviors and habitats of local endangered wildlife to get a better understanding of how you can support their habitats while avoiding doing unintentional harm to the wildlife population.
For example, there are now roughly seventy pairs of Great Lakes piping plovers, a species that nearly went extinct.
Image credit: U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service - Northeast Region
Their numbers became so low partly due to the fact that they lay their eggs in beach sand. People and dogs had done unintentional damage to them while walking. Having more of an awareness of the locations and behaviors of local wildlife, such as where plovers may lay their eggs, can go a long way towards knowing how to help in their preservation.
Share your knowledge
Teach family and friends about the amazing birds, wildlife, plants, and fish near you. When they learn about and understand how important and unique area wildlife can be, they will be more likely to respect it and want to help it to flourish. Take children to visit local parks and wildlife areas while respecting the wildlife there. Birdwatching is also a great way to observe, learn about, and enjoy local wildlife from a distance.
Image credit: Pacific Southwest Region USFWS
Prevent soil erosion
Preventing soil erosion improves the ability of your plants to thrive. It can also help with local water quality, having a positive impact on the wellbeing of animals that use local lakes and streams for hydration. When gardening and doing yard work, there are several things that you can do to prevent soil erosion and aid in wildlife conservation:
- Plant a cover crop, with a perennial plant cover as a top consideration.
- Consider mulching.
- Place stone or wood chips in areas where minimal growth happens.
- Deal with stormwater runoff issues creatively (rain barrel water collection is an excellent option, where permitted).
- Grow more than just grass on slopes. Grass alone does not prevent erosion. Add plants, ivy, and shrubs.
- Build a retaining wall.
- Use native plants.
Reduce or eliminate the use of pesticides and herbicides
The wrong pesticides and herbicides can take a long time to degrade. They have the potential to build up in soil, which eventually spreads up the food chain from plants and insects to prey animals such as rabbits and squirrels. Eventually, even predators such as owls, hawks, and coyotes may be harmed. Thankfully, there are organic gardening options and wildlife-safe products on the market. Choosing resilient and local plants can also help to reduce the need for pesticides.
Image credit: Pacific Southwest Region USFWS
Dispose of waste appropriately
We all know that it's a good idea to recycle paper, plastics, glass, and metal cans. Also, remember to ensure that your waste is safely sealed to avoid potential litter. In addition, to prevent the direct endangerment of local wildlife, dangerous compounds like paint, fluids, pesticides, bleach, batteries, and other harmful chemical substances should be disposed of appropriately.
Slow down when driving
Since many animals tend to live alongside developed areas, roads put them at risk on a daily basis. Slow down, especially when operating a vehicle near lakes, ponds, rivers, fields, and wooded areas. Not all wildlife crossings are marked, so it is up to us to always keep nature and wildlife conservation in mind while driving.
Image credit: USFWS Mountain-Prairie
Reduce hazards for birds
We often think of nature as self-cleaning, but that's not entirely true. Birds can transmit diseases to each other, and stagnant shared bird bath water is a potential hazard for them because of that. To keep nearby birds happy and chirping, wash their birdbaths regularly. Rinse them thoroughly after using a nature-safe cleaner.
Collisions with windows are another potential risk for birds, but they are easy to prevent by placing decals on windows. It's also a great opportunity to show off your own unique style, add a flair to home décor, or let the kids have fun with a sticker collection!
Protect wildlife habitats through your purchasing habits
According to National Geographic, wildlife conservation can be defined as:
"The practice of protecting plant and animal species and their habitats. As part of the world's ecosystems, wildlife provides balance and stability to nature's processes".
Logging, drilling, long-distance transportation of goods, over-development, and grazing are among the many things that bring about wildlife habitat destruction. To give wildlife the best chance to flourish, consider what you consume, how far it has traveled, and if it is using materials that are harmful to the environment or that cause wildlife habitat destruction when they are produced. Purchase items that have a net positive, such as those that were sustainably produced and harvested.
Buy recycled and sustainable products
Purchase recycled paper and use biodegradable alternatives to plastic. Choose products made from natural materials and ingredients. When getting bigger items and furniture, consider locally manufactured and handmade items with reclaimed materials and a reduced carbon footprint.
Purchase from ethical and wildlife-supporting businesses
Find stores that give back to nature with each purchase you make. For example. 4WildLife has endangered animal-inspired apparel and accessories where purchases support non-profits that protect endangered animals. The best part is that with your purchase, you get to help choose the non-profit organization that will help the endangered animal you most want to support.
A final note
Any action you may choose to take to aid animals will take us collectively a tiny step closer to preserving our animal habitats, biodiversity, and diverse ecosystems, which keep our entire planet going. Do something today for the sake of wildlife and the planet we share with it. If we all do our part, we can make a difference.