As part of my month-long celebration of Earth Day (April 22), I’ll be sharing ideas this week about things kids can do to help wild animals.
When it comes to talk of kids and wild animals, the first thing that pops into my mind is the idea that most kids know more about endangered animals that live in far-off places they might never see than they do about the wild creatures in their own backyard.
I’d like to see that change.
There are plenty of ideas for things kids can do to help wild animals; I’ve chosen to focus on a few that I think kids 10 and under can try.
1. Learn more about the wild animals in your area.
Become a wildlife explorer! Learn about the most common wild animals in your city. Local wildlife preserves, petting zoos, rescue centers and zoos may be a good place to start – many offer programs for kids. Read books about animals, too. Then spend time observing them in your backyard and beyond.
2. Create a wildlife habitat in your backyard.
Create a wildlife habitat in your yard by planting native flowers, trees and bushes (those that are original to your area). These can give local wild animals a place to hide, eat and even nest. Birdbaths and bird feeders further support local birds.
3. Leave wild animals in the wild.
If you spot an animal at the park, on the trail or near a water source, let it be. These animals need to stay in their home environment to survive. Take a picture instead.
4. Don’t feed wild animals human food.
Wild animals can actually get sick from eating human food (I’m looking at you, people feeding the ducks at the park). Not only is it dangerous to get too close to wild animals, it also creates a dependency on humans that’s no good for anyone.
5. Be respectful of the environment.
Pick up litter (food scraps and more), which attracts wildlife onto roadways, putting them in harm’s way. Recycling paper (and using less) protects trees, which provide food and shelter to many wild animals. And turning off lights reduces electricity, which comes from power plants that pollute the environment that wild animals depend on for survival.
6. Know how to care for injured wildlife in your area.
Unless an animal appears injured or in distress, there may be no need to rescue it. Signs that an animal needs your help include bleeding, a broken limb, shivering or a dead parent nearby. If you find abandoned or injured wildlife, call your local wildlife rehabilitation center, a local animal shelter, an animal control agency or a nature center to find out what to do.
Resources to Help Kids Discover More About Wild Animals
- Audubon Society
- Found an Orphaned or Injured Baby Wild Animal?, The Humane Society of the United States
- National Geographic Kids
- The National Wildlife Federation
Plus, a few things I’ve written about kids and wild animals here …