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Protect Fish, Wildlife and Open Space

A photo of an adult and younger moose in the forest
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.

Create habitat

  • 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?
  • 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.
  • Keep some 'messy' areas
    Photo of a New England cottontail rabbit in the grass
    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)
    Thickets, brush piles, and other non-manicured areas of the yard are good shelters and nesting areas for 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 from invasive species

  • 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.

More about Protect Fish, Wildlife and Open Space:

  • Links Leaving DEC's Website
  • Contact for this Page
  • Office of Communication Services
    625 Broadway
    Albany, NY 12233
    518-402-8013
    Send us an email
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  • Page applies to all NYS regions