How to help wildlife without being a biologist:
How can you help your local wildlife? What a great question! You don’t have to be a biologist to help out your environment. There are so many ways to get involved in helping out with citizen science or just taking steps in reducing your carbon footprint. I’ll try to point out some things that typically aren’t thought of when it comes to benefiting our wildlife and environment.
1. DON’T FEED THE WILDLIFE
What?? “But those deer are my babies! I love having them in the yard day after day”. Just don’t. Please do your research on how detrimental it is to feed the wildlife! We don’t kick up such a big fit about feeding the birds, BUT feeding deer, bears, gators, raccoons, foxes, ect. IS BAD. DON’T DO IT, PLEASE!!!
You want to know why?? Okay, so here is a short lesson on why it’s bad to feed the wildlife.
The food we give them isn’t what they actually need to survive. A lot of wildlife food out there (deer corn for example) is like feeding them junk food. Plus, it makes populations go up, and the environment can’t naturally support it. There is an amazing, delicate balance between animals and their habitat; it will only support what it can sustain! Awesome right? When you feed the wildlife, it screws up that balance. Plus, we don’t want to feed the animals “junk” right?
Feeding them makes them dependent. When animals become dependent on humans, it’s not such a good thing. This is when animals become nuisances. Think raccoons, bears, and alligators. If you feed them, they start associating you with food. You look no different than any other human, so they just think humans have food. This is how people get injured!
Disease is more easily spread when animals are in close quarters with one another. When you feed the wildlife, there are more animals in one place than there typically would be. The chances of disease goes up. Think of big crowds of people compared to not being around anyone. Germs are more likely to be present and spread.
Yes, it makes us feel good to feed the animals, they need us, right? NO. The wildlife does not need you, sorry. It may feel all warm and fuzzy at first, but please just think of the consequences!
2. Bring your cats indoors
I’m going to step on some toes here (hey, you don’t have to read the rest if you don’t want). I can’t tell you how many arguments I have been in that debate that cats hurt the local wildlife. They do. All my friends at this point are shaking their heads at me (I have an outdoor cat, but she is geriatric and I had her outside before I knew better; when I bring her indoors all she does is cry). I know, I’m a hypocrite when I talk about this one. But seriously guys, please don’t buy cats to be “barn cats”. Do you know how many stray cats there are in the world anyway? I have about 50 roaming around my neighborhood that belong to no one!! They are SERIOUSLY detrimental to local wildlife. Why did you get the cat in the first place? More than likely to get rid of rodents, right? There are better ways. Cats don’t just kill rodents, in fact, they kill more of everything else. They are little killing machines.
And no, the programs that fix our neighborhood cats to just release them back are not doing any good whatsoever for populations. Yes, they keep a few individuals from breeding. But guess what? Those cats still have to eat something. Oh, you’re feeding them, well, that doesn’t help either, sorry. Cats kill because they want to. Oops, I stepped on more feet there.
3. Give out some money!
There are so many beneficial wildlife conservation organizations out there that need the money for research right now! Especially since budgets are being cut on a regular basis for grants they need to do research. Wildlife research is SO IMPORTANT. We discover so many amazing things all because of research. We learn how to FIX problems. I will link some GREAT organizations down at the bottom of the post if you don’t know who to donate to….
Oh, and did you know… You don’t even have to actually give out money to benefit these organizations with donations. Amazon Smile (smile.amazon.com) donates to whatever organization you choose when you make a purchase. It doesn’t cost you ANY extra money!! How great is that?!
4. Don’t use DEET
DEET kills our amphibians! Not a whole lot as been said on this subject. Amphibians have very permeable skin, and are very sensitive to chemicals. If you have DEET on you and it gets in the environment (like swimming in the river or handling a frog) there is a HUGE chance you are killing off frogs and salamanders. There are tons of natural choices for bug repellant, please don’t use DEET!
5. Get involved!
There are a ton of citizen science projects out there for people who want to help out! iNaturalist is one that is so much fun to get involved in. You can literally participate from anywhere in the world, and it is so beneficial! You can also get help with identifying the wildlife around you. Ebird is another great organization that does citizen science projects and uses data put in by birders. Get a field guide, become familiar with your local birds, and start logging what you see! Your local zoo might be having something fun to get involved with as well, you might be surprised! Zoos are actually great conservation resources.
6. Spread the word
Let people know that killing our wildlife isn’t cool. So many people love to say they want to help wildlife, but they are killing off our snakes! Help spread the word that our snakes (even the venomous ones) are very beneficial! Where there are more snakes in areas, there are less instances of nasty diseases like lyme disease! Who wants that nasty stuff around?! Not me! Snakes keep the rodent populations in check; therefor, reducing diseases that rodents help spread.
Great organizations to look into:
There are many other awesome non profits that are doing great work too! I just love these guys!
Also, if you like any of my photography, part of my proceeds will go towards some of these organizations. So, get some pretty artwork, and give to a great cause as well!