I live on a decently-sized island, three-fourths of which is a wildlife refuge. Wild animals have always abounded, and seeing a deer or fox work its way through your yard is never a surprise. We have a pair of bald eagles, hawks, bob cats (which I’ve yet to see), foxes, and all manner of little critters. Here’s a few pictures.

Hawk
Hawk

find the racoon!
find the raccoon!
Sunset over the mainland
Sunset over the mainland
Deer in our front yard
Deer in our front yard

That last one was a memorable moment. The deer let me get within, maybe, twenty feet of it without it moving. A truck rumbled by, and it just sort of wandered back into the woods. I personally believe animals know if you are going to harm them, and since I’m vegan I don’t smell like the graveyard of its kin, the deer felt safe with me. But back to the point – animal friendly yards.

Sustainablog has a new post about “How to Make Your Yard a Winter Wonderland for Wildlife.” They offer six tips on how to make your property more confortable for wildlife in the winter months. For example, put hot water in birdbaths, put fallen limbs in a pile that animals can home up in, and keep food in the yard in the form of bird feeders and the traditional peanut butter on a pine cone. All these tips are amazingly simple, and will make the animals around you happy.

A couple years ago I read Ingrid Newkirk’s book Making Kind Choices. There was a section about gardens to attract wildlife. If you’d like to take a look, just head over to Google Books. This chapter starts on page nine.

A butterfly garden is a fantastic idea. If I wasn’t in college and had a permanent residence in a rural setting, it would be one of the first things I’d establish in my yard. Not only is such a garden nice for the creatures that inhabit it, it gives us humans a place to get away from the confines of the modern world and just sit and enjoy nature. Here’s a few links to get you started on your very own butterfly garden:

University of Minnesota
University of Wisconsin

Here’s a few of my own tips to help you create a safe and lovely place for your local wildlife:

  • There’s no need for a neatly-trimmed, cookie-cutter yard. Let your grass get a little shaggy, and don’t be OCD about trimming your hedges. I’m not asking you to let go completely, but wildlife will show up more in a more-natural looking setting than in the typical suburban-like areas.
  • Don’t throw your food scraps away. Toss them outside. Animals love them. My mom (who is unfortunately not vegan) throws meat into the woods, and the foxes go crazy. Just don’t overdo it. Don’t set out pet food for raccoons or anything like that. Animals should not become dependent on humans for their daily meals. (Things you can safely overdo: always keep your bird feeders full and birdbaths clean.)
  • Never forget about the tiniest creatures. You can purchase a “Frog Saver Lily Pad” and Window Decal Alerts from PETA’s catalog. They also sell No Hunting/Fishing signs, humane mouse traps (a must have), and a humane bug catcher.
  • If you happen to be outside and say, see a deer, don’t approach it. Just watch it from afar and feel lucky that you’re so much closer to nature than someone living in a city. If an animal feels threatened, it may not come back.
  • Don’t forget about your house-bound animal companions. Invest in a cat window seat or, if you have a screen-in porch, give your animals a bit of time to enjoy nature too. My cat, Flava Flav (I didn’t name him, sorry lol), loves going out on our porch and watching for hours.
Flava Flav sitting in the sun
Flava Flav sitting in the sun

Have any of you had any close-encounters with wildlife near your homes? Let’s hear in the comments.

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