Wildlife coexistence – those words probably make sense, but have you internalized their meaning?
We all recognize the beauty of plants and their flowers, and the food they produce. We recognize the importance of spending time in nature, with science slowly catching up to validate these feelings and the mental and physical health benefits.
But do we look at insects with the same value? Without insects, we don’t have most of these plants. And without those plants and insects, we don’t have birds, lizards, squirrels, bison, deer, mountain lions, and all of the other charismatic creatures that make our ecosystems function and the world so wonderous.
Jumpstart Nature will investigate wildlife coexistence in its many forms in our new podcast, launching September 2023. Follow our social media accounts or join our newsletter to stay informed. In the mean time, here are some excellent resources and steps you can take.
The National Wildlife Federation focuses on wildlife and habitat conservation
Learn about how P-22, a remarkable mountain lion somehow ventured into the heart of Los Angeles, and converted the community into mountain lion advocates. This was an amazing demonstration of people learning to coexist with an apex predator, but ultimately a combination of poison and a car strike ended P-22’s life. P-22 was largely responsible for the construction of the Wallis Annenberg Wildlife Crossing (in progress). Learn more about mountain lion coexistence at the Cougar Conservancy.
P-22 advocate and NWF Regional Executive Director Beth Pratt wrote a book, When Mountain Lions Are Neighbors, outlining many success stories of wildlife coexistence.
Check our May 24 newsletter for an introduction to Wildlife Coexistence.
Listen to our Nature’s Archive Podcast episodes that relate to wildlife coexistence:
- Cities: The Accidental Ecosystem with Peter Alagona
- The Age of Wildlife Crossings with Beth Pratt
- Coexisting with Urban Wildlife with Jessica Wolff
What You Can Do
Do you want to reduce your impact on wildlife? Here are some things to do and to avoid.
- If you ever need assistance for a wildlife emergency or conflict, go to AnimalHelpNow, and also check out their resources.
- Plant Native Plants in your yard, school, place of worship, and place of business. Native plants are adapted to your climate and support your local birds, bees, butterflies, and other beneficial organisms.
- Do not use pesticides. We’ve all been told and sold the “facts” that we need monthly pest services and must apply chemicals to our plants. But this is not true, and you can break the cycle.
- Avoid rodenticides. In many climates in the USA, mice and rats flourish in suburban areas. But if you poison them, those rodents will be eaten by hawks, owls, and maybe even your pet. Snap traps and other non-sticky traps are the most effective options. Learn more.
- Do Not Leave Food Outside. Feeding animals outdoors, whether pets or wild, will attract other animals. In the worst cases, fed wild animals become habituated to people and ultimately aggressive.
- Take extra responsibility when feeding birds. Millions of people feed birds, but there are many harmful side effects if you don’t do it responsibly. Bird feeders transmit diseases – so you must clean them weekly. Seed should be “low mess” so as not to attract rodents. Make sure seed is sustainably sourced – you don’t want seed that was grown by destroying the required habitat of the birds you attract.
- Put outdoor lights on motion sensors, or use yellow lights outdoors. Every night millions of people turn on their outdoor lights creating death traps for moths, beetles, and other insects attracted to light. Insects are critical for the function of our food webs and ecosystems, and are in the midst of an alarming decline.
- Support wildlife connectivity projects such as wildlife crossings. Our roads, railroads, and fences keep many animals from moving freely. This creates virtual islands, reducing genetic diversity and limiting the ability for the animals to find resources, ultimately leading to their decline.
- Coyotes are adaptable to human habitation, and as a result, are often seen by people. But we can (and do!) safely live side by side. Learn more at Project Coyote.
- Support regenerative agriculture and organic agriculture. Close to 50% of the US land base is used for agriculture, pasture, and ranching. It’s critical that this land be used responsibility and sustainably.