Lifestyle: Coexisting with Wildlife

A stinky skunk under the porch, a slogging turtle trying to cross the highway, an abandoned baby bird nest in the backyard–sometimes living amongst wildlife isn’t easy. After all, as the top of the food chain, the owners of the houses and the builders of the highway, many humans see wild animals as pests.

It’s understandable. Sometimes wildlife destroys personal property, invades private spaces, or poses a safety threat. However, it is important to note that in many of these instances, animals are simply seeking resources for survival and there are several ways to create an environment where dual existence between humans and Earth’s fellow creatures can be safe and peaceful.

Here are three ways humans can help facilitate:

Design a Humane Backyard

Every day, more and more wildlife habitat is sacrificed in the face of residential, road, and business developments. Such changes can seriously disrupt the local ecosystem and make it close to impossible for native animals to survive. While it may seem counterintuitive to construct a sanctuary for animals so close to a home or urban space, making havens provides wildlife with resources so they don’t go looking for them in actual homes.

Some ways to create a humane space are providing water (i.e. bird baths, small ponds), abstaining from using harmful lawn chemicals, making windows bird safe, and planting native bushes and trees to provide safe food for wildlife.

Educate Yourself on Wildlife Problems and Solutions

Whether you have an unwanted animal in your home or you are trying to help a seemingly injured or abandoned creature, it’s best to not problem-solve simply using your intuition. Wildlife experts have compiled a wealth of resources online to help in almost any imaginable situation.

The Humane Society offers advice on rehabilitating animals after being mangled by a carnivorous house pet. They also highlight how to handle birds that are nearly or completely featherless.

There are also some myths out there that may actually misguide people when it comes to helping wildlife. Do birds abandon their young if a person touches them? No. Is a fawn orphaned if found alone? Not necessarily. Reading up on how to tell if wildlife are actually in danger enables you to make better decisions, and if in doubt, it’s better to contact a local wildlife rehabilitator.

Support Organizations That Help Wildlife

There is only so much that civilians can do to aid and protect wildlife and their habitats. For the most part, monitoring predator-prey dynamics, human-wildlife conflicts, forest fragmentation, and other threats that degrade ecosystems and wildlife health is left to wildlife protection and conservation organizations.

Groups such as the Wildlife Conservation Society, The Nature Conservancy, and the World Wildlife Fund work to protect biodiversity on a global scale. They create safe pathways for animals to pass over urban developments such as highways, identify core habitat areas, determine ways to minimize pollution, and promote sustainable and efficient use of natural resources. By supporting their efforts, humans can indirectly help protect their animal comrades.

Feature photo courtesy of Gareth Williams.