What You Can Do for Wildlife

Photo from Flickr by Matt Knoth

Each species plays a valuable and distinct role in the ecosystem in which it lives. We are directly dependent on the contributions of some species. One-third of our food is pollinated by bird, bat, and insect species—many of which are endangered. We must conserve these species and protect their habitats. Forests and other wild places must be preserved as homes for wild animals.

Here are a few ways that you can help:

Stand Up for Wildlife

Learn About Endangered Species and their Habitats

Protect Endangered Species

  • The Endangered Species Act has proven to be an effective safety net for imperiled species—extinction has been prevented for more than 98 percent of the animals under its care. Urge your elected officials to preserve the important safeguards in the Act.

Protect the Environment

  • One of the easiest and most effective ways to help wildlife is to preserve the environment in which the animals live.
  • Participate in or hold your own local trash clean-up to help protect the habitats of endangered species and other wildlife.
  • Reduce, reuse, recycle!
    • Reduce: Manufacturing consumer products uses energy and natural resources, and creates waste and pollution. The less we consume, the fewer natural resources needed and waste produced. Some waste, like plastic bags and bottles, can make its way into wildlands and oceans, with negative consequences for endangered species and other animals.
    • Reuse: Don’t throw it away if it still has a use! If you have unwanted books, toys, or clothes 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’s recyclable in your area and recycle everyday items such as aluminum cans, glass and plastic containers, and cardboard and paper products. Dispose of electronics and other potentially hazardous materials at municipal collection centers that will handle them properly.
  • Save 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 animal habitats when they are extracted and pollute the environment and contribute to climate change when they are burned.
  • Plant native flowers, trees, and bushes in your backyard. This gives local wild animals food, shelter, and a place to raise families. Avoid chemical pesticides and fertilizers.
  • If you see an animals at the park, on a nature trail, or near a water source, let them be and do not remove them from their environment. These animals survive best in their own habitat. Take a picture instead.

Be An Educated Consumer

  • Think before you buy: Learn more about consumer choices that are better for animals and the environment. Choose products that are energy efficient, durable, and made from sustainable sources. Don’t buy products that cause harm to animals and habitats, such as gas-guzzling vehicles, disposable plastics, paper products not made from recycled paper, products that contain plastic microbeads, and products made from palm oil. (Palm oil, unfortunately, is in a lot of processed foods and health and beauty products, but is grown in large plantations that are displacing the last remaining habitat of the orangutan.)
  • Never buy exotic animals, particularly those who were wild-caught. Also shun parts and products made from wildlife, including souvenirs.
  • Support genuine efforts that keep wildlife in the wild, such as ecotourism, photo safaris, or community-based humane education programs.
  • Learn more about where your food comes from and what food label claims such as “sustainable” 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.

Help Put an End to Inhumane Traps

  • Support proposed federal, state, or local legislation against the use of indiscriminate and inhumane steel-jaw leghold traps 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 steel-jaw leghold traps 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 get laws passed that ban inhumane traps.
  • If you or someone you know hires a nuisance wildlife control business to address a wildlife conflict situation, do not allow them to use leghold traps and/or other cruel and nonselective trapping devices. Ask for their trapping policies in writing before you hire them.

Help Protect Birds

  • Approximately 300 million to 1 billion birds die each year due to collisions. Take steps to prevent bird strikes by making windows more bird-friendly by applying visible markings on the outside.

Wild Horses

  • Click here to 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 program.
  • Write to Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke and tell him 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 Ryan Zinke
      Secretary of the Interior
      US Department of the Interior
      1849 C Street, NW
      Washington, DC 20240
  • Youth: You, too, can send a message that wild horses should be respected and protected. Print and color two copies of this drawing, sign them, and mail one to each of your US senators in Washington, DC.