What You Can Do for Terrestrial Wildlife

monarch butterfly - James

Stand Up for Wildlife

Make Your Yard Wildlife Friendly

  • Plant native species of flowers, trees, and bushes in your yard. This gives wild animals food, shelter, and a place to raise families. Learn more about creating wildlife habitat in your yard
  • Reduce the amount of lawn in your yard. Lawns offer minimal food and shelter for wildlife. Try replacing part of your lawn with native plants and flowers instead.
  • Craft for critters! Buy or build your own birdhouse, bat house, or butterfly bath. This can provide hours of fun for the whole family.
  • No yard? No problem! Balconies and patios are great locations for container gardens.
  • Do not use pesticides, insecticides, herbicides, or chemical fertilizers on your lawn or garden beds. These products are the leading cause of wildlife poisonings, and are also toxic to companion animals.
  • Reduce light pollution: artificial light at night has severe negative effects on wildlife. To help, only use lighting when and where it is needed, properly shield all outdoor lights, keep your blinds drawn during the evening, and if safety is a concern, install motion detector lights and timers.
  • Rethink fall cleanup: leaves, dead flower heads, and ornamental grasses provide critical food and shelter for birds, butterflies, bees, and other beneficial insects during the winter months. Learn more about how fall yard cleanup harms wildlife.

Protect the Environment

  • One of the easiest and most effective ways to help wildlife is to preserve the environment in which the animals live.
  • Volunteer with organizations in your area to restore native forests, grasslands, and coastal ecosystems by planting native species, manually removing invasive plant species, and taking out old fences.
  • Participate in or hold your own local trash clean-up to help protect the habitats of imperiled species and other wildlife.
  • Reduce, reuse, recycle!
    • Reduce: Manufacturing consumer products uses energy and natural resources, and creates waste and pollution. When we consume less, we need fewer natural resources and produce less waste. Some waste, like plastic bags and bottles, can make its way into wildlands and oceans, with negative consequences for endangered species and other animals. Reduce or eliminate your use of single-use plastics, which are difficult to recycle and persist in the environment for decades.
    • Reuse: Do not throw it away if it still has a use! If you have unwanted books, toys, clothes or other items in good condition, consider giving them to charity instead of throwing them in the trash.
    • Recycle: Avoid disposable products and products with excessive packaging or packaging that cannot easily be recycled. Find out what is recyclable in your area and recycle everyday items such as aluminum cans, glass and plastic containers, and cardboard and paper products. Dispose of electronics, batteries, and other potentially hazardous materials at municipal collection centers that will handle them properly.
  • Minimize your carbon footprint by saving energy: Driving less, using energy efficient vehicles and appliances, and simply turning off the lights when you leave a room reduce energy use. Many power plants rely on coal and other fossil fuels that damage wildlife habitat when they are extracted, and pollute the environment and contribute to climate change when burned. Unplug appliances and chargers when not in use to eliminate electricity bleeding. You can also consider joining a community solar program or adding solar technology to your home or business.
  • Respect wild animals by keeping a safe distance away, not approaching them, and not removing them from their environment. If you find young animals, particularly in the spring, do not handle them. Mothers often leave young for extended periods to forage. Although the young may appear to be abandoned, the mother will almost certainly return within 24 hours, and handling the young puts them in danger. If you encounter an injured wild animal, contact a certified animal rescuer in your area.

Be An Educated Consumer

  • Think before you buy: Choose products that are energy efficient, durable, made from sustainable sources, and sustainably packaged. Avoid products that harm animals and habitats, such as gas-guzzling vehicles, disposable plastics and plastic microbeads, paper products not made from recycled paper, products grown with pesticides, and products made with palm oil. Also avoid products that test on animals and contain animal parts or derivatives.
  • Never buy exotic animals, particularly those who were wild-caught, and never purchase parts and products made from wildlife, including souvenirs.
  • Do not buy clothing or other products that use fur, feathers, or exotic skins.
  • Support genuine efforts that keep wildlife in the wild, such as ecotourism, photo safaris, or community-based humane education programs.
  • Eat less meat, particularly beef. Cattle ranching destroys native vegetation, requires enormous amounts of water, damages soil, often results in lethal control of native predators, contaminates waterways, and produces methane, a potent greenhouse gas. Globally, conversion of forest to rangeland for cattle is one of the leading causes of biodiversity loss.
  • Learn more about where your food comes from and what food label claims such as “sustainable,” “humane,” or “all-natural” really mean. If the product is rated or certified by an independent evaluator, find out what the rating/certification means and what animal and environmental advocates are saying about the certifier’s standards.

Learn About Imperiled Species and their Habitats

Protect Endangered Species

  • The Endangered Species Act is an effective safety net for imperiled species, and has been credited with preventing the extinction of 99 percent of listed species. Urge your elected officials to preserve the important safeguards in the Act.

Help Put an End to Inhumane Traps and Snares

  • Support proposed federal, state, or local legislation limiting or banning the use of indiscriminate and inhumane traps and snares for commercial purposes or to “manage” wildlife. Let your legislators, as well as your state wildlife agency, know that you support a prohibition on the use of cruel traps and snares in your state and across the country.
  • If you see a nontarget species (such as a dog, cat, bird, or threatened/endangered species) caught in a trap, seek veterinary care for the animal immediately. Next, document and report your findings to your local humane society and AWI. Such information will aid our efforts to pass laws that ban inhumane traps and snares.
  • If you or someone you know hires a nuisance wildlife control business to address a wildlife conflict situation, do not allow them to use cruel traps or snares. Ask for their trapping policies in writing before you hire them.

Help Protect Birds

  • Up to 1 billion birds in the United States die each year due to collisions with buildings. Learn how to reduce bird strikes by making windows more bird-friendly.
  • Volunteer your knitting and crocheting skills to create nests for injured and orphaned birds in wildlife rehabilitation centers.
  • Keep your cat indoors. Cats are one of the top causes of bird deaths in the United States. A study by scientists at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute reported that between 1.4 billion and 3.7 billion birds are killed each year by cats roaming outdoors. One of the most important things pet owners can do to reduce direct wildlife mortality is to keep their cat inside.

Help Protect Wild Horses

  • Learn more about wild horse issues.
  • Contact your US senators and representative and urge them to help reform the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Wild Horse and Burro Program.
  • Write to Secretary of Interior Deb Haaland and tell her you oppose the BLM’s overzealous wild horse roundup policy. The BLM admits it plans to round up far more horses than are adoptable—leaving many wild horses to remain indefinitely in long-term holding facilities. Urge the agency to act responsibly and stop removing these national treasures from the wild:

    The Honorable Deb Haaland
    Secretary of the Interior
    US Department of the Interior
    1849 C Street, NW
    Washington, DC 20240