By the time you read this April issue of CNY LATINO, the long, harsh Winter will hopefully be just a memory – replaced by the joy of Spring.
Climate change, loss of habitat, pollution and overuse of lawn and garden chemicals are factors resulting in the drastic reduction of some species of animals, such as the monarch butterfly, the bumblebee and some songbirds. We can help them and enjoy their presence in our lives by creating a space which is friendly to these critters. Even apartment dwellers with a balcony can incorporate some of the hints below from the Humane Society of the U.S. (HSUS).
1. Provide clean water, changed daily — Whether it’s winter, summer, or somewhere in between, wild animals need reliable sources of fresh water. It can be as simple as setting up a birdbath, or if you have the room, you can create a small pond.
2. Offer natural food sources — Native plants, bushes, and trees are usually the best foods you can give wildlife. You can also supplement your offerings with birdfeeders, especially in winter.
3. Skip the lawn chemicals — Avoid using chemical-laden fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides that can be harmful not only to wildlife but to companion animals and children, too.
4. Make your windows bird-safe — If you’re attracting birds with food and water, make sure they’re not going to be flying into your windows.
5. Shrink your lawn a little — If you can, stop mowing part of your lawn. It’s less work for you and better habitat for wildlife.
6. Build a brush pile –Turn leaves, tree limbs, and other yard debris into a simple brush pile to provide extra shelter for wild animals.
7. Be a friend to bees — As pollinators, bees are vital to farms and gardens, but their numbers are on the decline. You can help by providing safe, healthy habitat for bees. You can even put up a little bee abode. (And no need to fear bees—leave them alone, and they’ll leave you alone, too.)
8. Put up a bat house — Bats pollinate plants, disperse seeds, and help keep the insect population in check. Return the favor by giving them a safe place to roost.
9. Make your swimming pool safe — Backyard pools can be deadly for wildlife. Take a few precautions to make your pool safer for wild animals.
10. Help out bugs (they’re animals, too) — Insects make up 70 percent of the animal kingdom, and most of them are harmless or even helpful. Attract beneficial insects to your yard and garden, and look for eco- and animal-friendly approaches to insect control.
11. Keep cats inside — Keep your cat(s) indoors for their own safety as well as that of wildlife.
12. Change with the seasons — Follow HSUS tips for maintaining your humane backyard as you do yard cleanup in fall and spring. DETAILS ON THIS AND OTHER TIPS CAN BE FOUND AT THE URL BELOW.
13. Find humane solutions to any wildlife problems –Birds, bats, and squirrels outdoors in your yard are great—not so much when they’re living in your attic. Or you may have deer or woodchucks who are eating your garden. The HSUS has effective, humane solutions to wildlife problems you might encounter. SEE www.humanesociety.org/animals/wild_neighbors/humane-backyard/13-ways-to-create-humane-backyard-wildlife-habitat.html
ALSO, you can call the wildlife hotline at (203)393-1059 or go to wildlifehotline.org
AND People for Animal Rights has various related handouts available for .60 for postage and copying. See address below.
FINALLY, you can learn more about native plants for your garden from Habitat Gardening of C.N.Y. at hgcny.org
Linda is President of People for Animal Rights, P.O. Box 15358, Syracuse, NY 13215-0358, (315)488-PURR (7877) between 8:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m., LDESTEFANO3@twcny.rr.com, peopleforanimalrightsofcny.org. This article was translated into Spanish by Rob English.