How to Protect Wildlife and Its Habitats

Wildlife is an important part of our world’s ecosystems and contributes to the health of our environment. Without wildlife, plants and other organisms would not grow, pollinate, or disperse seeds. Humans have a vital role to play in protecting the natural world and its inhabitants, and conservation is an essential part of that process.

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List estimates that more than 40,000 species of animals are threatened with extinction, and many others are at risk from habitat destruction and climate change. These threatening conditions are the result of humans’ use of natural resources and our growing population, both of which are contributing to the accelerating global biodiversity crisis.

Humanity depends on wildlife to provide us with food, fibers, medicines and other necessities. In addition, wild species are the basis for much of the entertainment we enjoy, and their presence in our lives provides inspiration.

There are many ways to protect wildlife and its habitats. Some of the best ways to do this are to avoid buying wildlife products, and to use sustainable goods if you are going to purchase them.

Adopt a wild animal or a local habitat

A simple way to support wildlife is to adopt a wild animal from a zoo or other wildlife organization. By symbolically adopting an animal, you can help the zoo or other organization fund its work and educate people about wild animals and their importance to our planet.

Visit a nature reserve or national park

These places give animals the opportunity to live in a safe place. These parks and refuges are important for both the animals that call them home and the humans who come to visit.

Make a habit of visiting these areas when you are traveling. This will not only help keep the parks and refuges running, but it will also allow you to see the world’s most amazing creatures up close.

Reduce light pollution: Outdoor lights have a direct impact on wildlife. Turn off all unnecessary lighting, properly shield your outside lights, and draw blinds during the night.

Rethink fall cleanup: Leaves, dead flower heads and ornamental grasses are critical habitats for many birds and insects. Do not leave these items lying around, and consider planting a few native plants in your yard or garden instead.

Do not use chemicals in your yard, garden or landscape: These chemicals are toxic to wildlife and can lead to disease in humans and pets.

Learn about invasive species and take steps to prevent them from spreading in your area. Invasive plants, insects and animals can outcompete native species and disrupt ecosystems.

Contact your legislators and encourage them to protect wildlife and their habitat. The federal government is a major player in wildlife management, so write to your senators and representatives to express your support for laws that protect wild animals and their habitats.

The United States created a National Park System and other wildlife management programs in the 1800s to ensure that bison, elk and beaver populations did not become extinct. These efforts are still needed today to conserve and repopulate these endangered animals.

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