While attending rescues or interacting with members of the public I often get asked different questions about how people can help wildlife. Some questions have been “what can I feed wildlife?” and “how can I attract wildlife into my yard?”. Time and time again I have attended rescues where wildlife has become sick or injured as a direct result from humans. So I thought it might be a good opportunity for me to list different ways that we can help our native wildlife. The list will be by no means exhaustive or in a particular order and I welcome suggestions or ideas of what others are doing to help.
1. Be a responsible pet owner. Keep pets locked in at night.
2. Make your cat an indoor only cat and/or build a cat enclosure. Many animals come into care every year because of cat attacks. Our native wildlife often doesn’t stand a chance against this fierce predator. I own cats and they have never been outside. I don’t think they are missing out on anything and they are much safer inside with me.
3. Plant native trees. This is the best “food” that you can provide for our wildlife. Talk to your local nursery about what plant species are best at attracting wildlife. A few in my garden include Grevillea, Bottle Brush and Lilly Pily. Trees also provide shelter and a place to nest.
4. Have a bird bath or bird feeder in your yard.
5. Build a frog pond. Here is a great website from Burke’s Backyard with tips on how to create a frog pond. http://www.burkesbackyard.com.au/factsheets/Pets-Pet-Care-and-Native-Ani…
6. Install a nest box in your backyard. There is plenty of resources on the web for building a nest box and different shape/size will attract different animals. A quick google search can point you in the right direction for building a nest box suitable for bats or possums or birds etc.
7. Drive carefully in areas where wildlife is likely to be on the move, particularly at night as most of our native animals are nocturnal. If you accidentally hit something or see an animal thats been hit check the animal if it is safe to do so. Firstly, it may still be alive and in serious pain or second it may be a mother with young in the pouch. It is critical that if you have young in a pouch that you do not try to pull it off the teat, this can do irreparable damage to the young. Instead if possible take the mother and the young as one to a vet for assistance, or if this is not possible call for a wildlife carer or RSPCA to assist.
8. Try not to use herbicides or pesticides in the garden or other poisons such as ratsak in your home. I’ve seen many poison cases and its not always from direct ingestion, there is also the secondary effect where a poisoned rat/mouse becomes easy prey and in turn poisons the predator (e.g. Tawny Frogmouth, snake).
9. If you own a swimming pool consider hanging some rope into the water tied from a tree or pool fence so that any wildlife that falls in can easily climb out.
10. Make sure your fencing is wildlife friendly. Barbed wire is really harmful to our wildlife. Here is a website with more details on wildlife friendly fencing:http://www.wildlifefriendlyfencing.com/WFF/Home.html
11. Try to minimise waste, recycle and don’t let rubbish end up in stormwater drains. Think about what you pour down the sink. Here is a website with more info:http://www.derm.qld.gov.au/environmental_management/water/caring_for_our…
12. Appreciate wildlife from a distance. Don’t try to get too close or harass wildlife as this can cause them stress.
13. Educate your family and friends and teach them about how they can help the environment and our native wildlife.
14. If you want a wild animal as your pet ensure it has been captive breed and that you obtain the necessary permits. Don’t encourage the black market or steal from the wild. Remember it is illegal to take animals from the wild without a valid permit.
15. Avoid walking near trees where magpies are nesting or if unavoidable wear a helmet/hat with eyes painted on or carry an umbrella. Magpies are very defensive of their nest and can swoop if you get too close.
16. Always properly dispose of fishing line, hooks and gear.
17. If you or someone you know needs to cut down a tree, thoroughly check the tree before cutting and make sure no one is nesting in there.
18. Take care when mowing or whipper-snipping. Sometimes lizards or snakes etc aren’t quick enough to move out of the way, think about where the local reptiles like to hang out (sunbake) and make sure they can escape the mower blades.