We share the Earth with 8 million other species of plants and animals, and we have a responsibility to future generations and all living things to protect the environment—so we can all thrive together. And protecting ecosystems and nature means protecting animals.
So how can you help wild—and not so wild—animals? Here are seven ways.
- Plant trees
Trees recycle oxygen, returning it to the atmosphere for us to breathe and absorbing potentially harmful gases along the way. They also help to create a complete, thriving global ecosystem. By planting trees, we help this process and provide habitats—both permanent and seasonal—and food for a multitude of insects and animals. Get involved in an organization that supports community trees like ACTrees, or learn how to plant your own. Even a small garden can have a great impact. Plant life nourishes insect and animal life. Just make sure you use native plant species. Those that have evolved in your area are the ones that wildlife has been relying on for millennia. Not sure what yours are? Find out.
- Keep it clean
In our efforts to spur lawn growth and control pests, we may turn to chemical solutions, which can be very harmful to wildlife—like bees and butterflies—that are helpful for humans and the rest of the Earth. Fertilizers usually find their way into water sources, polluting rivers and streams, causing harmful algae blooms, and poisoning the aquatic life. Instead, opt for natural pest control to discourage critters in your garden, and organic fertilizers like animal manure or compost.
- Pick up trash
Picking up trash not only protects the environment and keeps our surroundings beautiful, but it can also save wildlife. Plastic bags and twine can easily trap birds and other smaller animals, hurting or killing them or making them easy prey. So put on your gloves, grab some trash bags and pick up litter to protect wildlife—and keep your neighborhood looking good.
- Adopt an animal
Protect the animal of your choice—one either threatened by endangerment in a far off land or by abandonment nearby. Defenders of Wildlife lets you “symbolically” adopt a wild animal of your choosing. Your donation goes to improving habitats, research, monitoring, and ultimately saving the species from endangerment. Make it a birthday gift for your animal fanatic friend! Want to feel a more tangible impact? Adopt a pet from a local animal shelter or rescue. There are so many animals without homes—and so many ways to save them. Take in a new best friend today!
- Take action
What animal rights issue troubles you the most? Poaching? Cruelty? Fur? Whatever it is, you can take action. The Humane Society and World Wildlife Fund can help you find out petitions to sign, bills to support and state representatives to write. By taking action, you’ll give a voice to those who don’t have one.
Your gift to a trusted animal rights organization will be appreciated and well utilized. By supporting their concerted efforts, you play a valuable role in the protection of wildlife and in helping our planet thrive. You can also donate to local shelters in need. Many animal shelters and rescue centers lack the necessary provisions to keep animals healthy and safe. If you can’t adopt, giving your extra food and supplies—or volunteering—can be just as valuable in helping these shelters survive. Find one near you.
- Stay Informed
Population increases pose a threat to wildlife as previous resources diminish. Whether it’s for science, food or greed, humans endanger animals, sometimes without considering the positive impact wildlife can have on the posterity of our planet. What can you do? Stay informed on the issues, know your impact in the ecosystem and take your part in protecting wildlife. Earth and its present and future habitants will be grateful.
More concerned with animals that aren’t as wild? There are plenty of ways you can volunteer with pets in your community. Get started with our ideas here.
Mending broken wings
See an injured critter? Help ‘em out! The Wildlife Rehabilitation Information Directory is a great resource on what to do and who to contact.