Protect Fish, Wildlife and Open Space
Individual areas of habitat, when added
together are very valuable to wildlife
Habitat destruction and competition from invasive species are two of the most significant threats to New York's natural biodiversity. The loss and fragmentation of necessary breeding, foraging and shelter areas has pushed many animal species into endangered status. Our native plant communities are threatened by climate change, development and invasive insect and plant species that have no natural controls.
Fortunately, each of us can contribute in a significant way towards stopping the spread of invasives and creating essential habitats in our own backyards.
- Turn some of your yard into meadow
Turf grass is an ecological 'desert' for wildlife as it provides little food, shelter or breeding area. Let a corner of your yard return to meadow and see how many species will return. Remember fireflies?
- Get paid to not mow your grass
If you own 10 acres or more of grasslands in certain parts of New York State, you may be able to receive technical and financial assistance to improve it as habitat for grassland birds. See the Grassland Protection Program for information about targeted areas and incentives.
- Leave some dead trees standing
Woodpeckers, owls, kestrels, flycatchers and chickadees and eighty other species of North American birds nest in dead or deteriorating trees called "snags". Leave some dead trees standing if they do not pose a threat to your home.
- Use plants with high wildlife value
The same plants that beautify your yard can provide food, and cover for many birds and mammals. Eastern red cedar, American beech, Eastern Hemlock, Shadblow, high and low-bush blueberry, Arrowwood and many species of oak are of great value to wildlife.
- Lure hummingbirds to your yard―naturally!
If your yard regularly gets at least a half day of sun, plant bee balm, salvia, tall garden phlox, red-hot poker or lupines to attract hummers. If your yard's on the shadier side, try coral bells, foxglove or cardinal flower.
- Keep some 'messy' areas
Thickets, brush piles, and other non-manicured areas of the yard are good shelters and nesting areas for wildlife.
New England cottontail populations
are declining dramatically due to a lack
of the thickets and tangled underbrush
habitat they prefer (Photo: Mass Div.
of Fish and Wildlife)
- Maintain some meadow areas
Many species require open meadows for their survival. This type of habitat can quickly become forest in the northeast as birch, cedar, sumac and brambles move in and shade out grasses. A meadow can be easily maintained by yearly mowing in late summer.
Protect native communities
- Don't plant invasive or potentially invasive species
Some invasive species may still available in nurseries -Japanese Barberry, Autumn Olive, Oriental Bittersweet, and Japanese Honeysuckle - to name a few. The popular Burning Bush is under consideration as potentially invasive. Be sure to ask about a plant's status before purchasing.
- Keep invasive insect pests from spreading
The Emerald Ash Borer, Asian Long-horned Beetle, Sirex Woodwasp and Hemlock Wooly Adelgid are causing enormous damage to our native trees. Don't carry firewood in to a campsite from another area. Invasive species or their eggs or larvae may be hiding in it.
- Boaters - Watch out for aquatic hitchhikers
Aquatic invasive species such as Eurasian millfoil, Zebra mussels, and the algae Didymo can be spread from one water body to another by various recreational uses. Keep boots, gear, motors clean and don't empty bait buckets from one area into another water body.
- Help sustain fish populations
Consider releasing the largest fish you catch and keeping other fish that are still in the legal size range. Larger fish are the best breeders, and smaller fish tend to be less contaminated.
- Recycle your used fishing line
Used fishing line can be harmful and even deadly to birds and other wildlife that become entangled in it. Dispose of your line in the monofilament recycling bins found at many sport shops. Monofilament line cannot be included with other home recyclables.
More about Protect Fish, Wildlife and Open Space:
- Attracting Wildlife to Your Yard - Ways to make your yard more inviting to birds, butterflies and other wildlife species