Help Save Wildlife

Day 247 – An endangered species is an animal or plant threatened with extinction. A few of the factors that may endanger a species includes overhunting or overharvesting, habitat loss, pollution and human-wildlife conflict. There are over 500 species of wildlife that are currently endangered.

Here are 10 things you can do today to help protect and preserve wildlife (shared by endangered.org)

  1. Create a backyard wildlife habitat. Put bird feeders and other wildlife attractants, such as bird houses and baths.
  2. Establish a pollinator garden with native vegetation in your yard. Native plants provide food and shelter for native wildlife. Attracting native insects like bees and butterflies can help pollinate your plants. Avoid planting invasive species. Non-native plants can overtake and destroy native species on which animals depend.
  3. Minimize use of herbicides and pesticides. Herbicides and pesticides are hazardous pollutants that can affect wildlife at many levels. Reduce use of fertilizer. Excess fertilizer will likely wash into streams and rivers and may lead to amphibian deformities and deaths.
  4. Reduce your use of water in your home and garden so that animals that live in or near water can have a better chance of survival. Don’t dump paint, oil or antifreeze or other chemicals, which pollute the water and can harm people and wildlife. Keep litter and pet waste out of the street drain, which often washes into rivers, lakes or the ocean.
  5. Place decals on windows to deter bird collisions. Millions of birds die every year because of collisions with windows. You can help reduce the number of collisions simply by placing decals on the windows in your home and office.
  6. Slow down when driving. Many animals live in developed areas and this means they must navigate a landscape full of human hazards. So when you’re out and about, slow down and keep an eye out for animals. Don’t litter because trash can attract wildlife to the roadside.
  7. Recycle and buy sustainable products. Buy recycled paper and sustainable products like Forest Stewardship Council wood products and shade-grown coffee to save rainforests.
  8. Don’t litter/otherwise destroy sensitive habitats, which may be home to native/visiting species that are endangered or threatened.
  9. Never purchase products made from endangered species like ivory, coral and tortoise shell. Buy exotic plants and animals only from reputable stores. 
  10. Learn about endangered species in your area. Teach your friends and family about the wonderful wildlife, birds, fish and plants that live near you. The first step to protecting endangered species is learning about how interesting and important they are.

On this National Wildlife Day take some time to appreciate and care for the amazing wildlife that surrounds us everyday.

Be a Scientist in Your Own Backyard

Day 214 – Do you love science? Are you a big fan of nature? Do you want to help preserve and protect the environment? Well, it couldn’t be any easier to get involved in something that includes all these amazing things. Citizen Science Programs provides opportunities for students, teachers and the public to participate in scientific data collection. Some programs require training, while others do not. Some you can do in your own backyard.

There are Citizen Science Programs around the country and the world. This post will include projects that are nation wide, along with others that are focused on ones found in my home state of Illinois. I will also be sharing the ones that require little to no training. The information shared in this post is directly from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

Audubon Society Christmas Bird Count

This program is the longest-running, citizen-science project related to birds.The next Christmas Bird Count Tuesday, December 14, 2021 through Wednesday, January 5, 2022. The Christmas Bird Count occurs December 14 to January 5 every year.  Sign up to receive information and results about all of Audubon’s community science programs through American Birds, our quarterly newsletter by email. 

BeeSpotter

BeeSpotter is a partnership between citizen scientists and the professional science community designed to educate the public about pollinators by engaging them in a data collection effort of importance to the nation. It is a Web-based portal at the University of Illinois for learning about honey bees and bumble bees and for contributing data to a nationwide effort to collect baseline information on the population status of these insects.

Bumble Bee Watch

Bumble Bee Watch is a collaborative effort to track and conserve North America’s bumble bees. This community science project allows for individuals to; Upload photos of bumble bees to start a virtual bumble bee collection; Identify the bumble bees in your photos and have your identifications verified by experts; Help researchers determine the status and conservation needs of bumble bees; Help locate rare or endangered populations of bumble bees; Learn about bumble bees, their ecology, and ongoing conservation efforts; and Connect with other community scientists.

Citizen Science Projects at the Field Museum

Projects include Monarch Community Science Project, Collections Club and Helping to Unlock Biodiversity.

Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network

CoCoRaHS, the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network, is a unique, non-profit, community-based network of volunteers of all ages and backgrounds working together to measure and map precipitation (rain, hail and snow). They use low-cost measurement tools, stress training and education and utilize an interactive Web site to provide the highest quality data for natural resource, education and research applications. 

FrogWatch USA

FrogWatch USA™ is a citizen-science program of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) that invites individuals and families to learn about wetlands in their communities and help conserve amphibians by reporting data on the calls of local frogs and toads. AZA’s FrogWatch USA™ comprises a national network of skilled coordinators and volunteers who form a community with the goal of providing large-scale, long-term data on frogs and toads in the United States.

Great Backyard Bird Count

Launched in 1998 by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and National Audubon Society, the Great Backyard Bird Count was the first online citizen-science project to collect data on wild birds and to display results in near real time. More than 160,000 people join the four-day count each February to create an annual snapshot of the distribution and abundance of birds.

iNaturalist.org

Every observation can contribute to biodiversity science, from the rarest butterfly to the most common backyard weed. iNaturalist.org shares findings with scientific data repositories to help scientists find and use your data.

Monarch Watch

There are several ways for a classrooms to get involved with Monarch Watch. In addition to rearing monarchs, several ongoing research projects rely on student-scientist partnerships.

Project Squirrel

No matter where you live, city or suburb, from the Midwest to the East Coast, Canada to California, whether squirrels live in your neighborhood or not, you are encouraged to become a squirrel monitor. 

So, whether you’re a stay-at-home parent looking for something to do with the kids, or you’re a teacher looking for a cool project with your students, or a retiree looking for a new hobby, contributing to one of these projects would be very helpful and fulfilling.

To see more projects, check out the IDNR’s Citizen Science Programs, Lincoln Park Zoo and National Geographic.

Tomorrow, determining which is greener, shopping for your groceries on-line or in-person.