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From the Winter 2014 Conservationist for Kids

bear climbing to a bird feeder

Seeing Wildlife

By Gina Jack

There's something exciting about seeing wild animals, whether we go looking for them... or encounter them unexpectedly.

Watching wildlife and taking photos can be enjoyed and shared with others your whole life long. Insects are fun to photograph--there are so many of them!

If you have a flower garden, you can plant it with wildlife in mind and create habitat for them in your yard or on school grounds. Gardens that attract butterflies and toads are fun to plant and to watch.

New Yorkers, young and old, help with important wildlife research. "Citizen scientists" gather information and record and report it for many different kinds of studies. DEC receives information about game birds, frogs, toads and furbearers (e.g., rabbits, raccoons, bobcats, American marten). Some citizen scientists are also hunters and anglers who spend a great deal of time outdoors observing wildlife.

Sometimes wildlife cause problems for people. Animals may be in inconvenient places, such as near homes, schools and farms. Sometimes their search for food and shelter results in damage to property or crops, having wild neighbors can be a treat, but not when they make a mess or destroy property.

Sometimes animals seem to be in trouble and in need of our help but that is not always the case. It is best to always leave injured and baby animals alone. Often the parent is close by looking for food and will return shortly. It will not return until you're gone. Learn more at DEC's Care of Young Wildlife webpage. If a wild animal appears to be ill or injured, do NOT approach it. If you have questions about what to do, call your local DEC office.