U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
What You Can Do to Help
Wildlife and Plants
When most people hear the term
endangered species, they think of
manatees, grizzly bears, whales,
and other charismatic species. If
these animals don’t live in your area,
you might think there is nothing you
can do to help. However, more than
1,300 species of plants, birds, fish,
invertebrates, and mammals are listed
as endangered or threatened—some
might live in or migrate through your
Private citizens can play a critical role
in protecting our country’s wildlife and
plants. The things we do in our daily
lives can help improve our lands so
they provide a better place for wildlife
and humans to live. All endangered
and threatened species need your help,
from the red-cockaded woodpecker to
the Karner blue butterfly.
You can make a difference by reducing
threats to endangered and threatened
species and their habitats. The
following are suggestions to reduce
In your community
To learn about ways you can assist
native wildlife, contact your area U.S.
Fish and Wildlife Service office—http://
www.fws.gov/offices/ or your natural
heritage program or conservation data
Volunteer at a wildlife refuge—
Join a conservation organization.
Support natural areas and nature
centers and participate in habitat
Contact your State or area fish
and game office to learn how you
can become involved in conservation
Walk, ride your bike, carpool, or use
public transportation. Using less fuel
reduces the need to extract energy
resources and prevents changing
habitat that is home to fish, wildlife,
Organize litter cleanups and recycling
If you observe evidence of wildlife
poaching, contact your state fish and
offices/statelinks.html. State agencies
enforce State wildlife laws and have
jurisdiction over most local wildlife
Follow fishing and hunting laws.
Individual State, territorial, and tribal
agencies sell recreational fishing and
hunting licenses and have information
about seasons, limits, methods, and
areas that are open or closed—http://
Don’t put hazardous substances
down the drain or in the trash.
Things like paint thinner, furniture
polish, and antifreeze can pollute our
water and land, impacting people
as well as wildlife. For information on
how to dispose of hazardous material
properly, see the Environmental
Protection Agency’s guide to safe
management of household hazardous
Take unwanted, reusable items to a
charitable organization or thrift shop.
Use cloth, not paper, napkins.
Turn the lights and TV off when you
leave a room. Use energy-efficient
Recycle everything you can:
newspapers, scrap papers, cans, glass,
motor oil, plastics, appliances, etc.
Keep your cat indoors. Roaming
house cats kill birds and other wildlife
such as field mice, frogs, squirrels, and
lizards. Putting a bell on your cat helps,
but keeping the cat inside is better.
Don’t leave water running. Turn
off the tap when brushing your teeth or
washing your face. Install water-saving
devices, such as low-flow showerheads,
to save water and save money.
Write, e-mail, or call companies
that send unwanted junk mail and
ask them to take your name off their list.
In your yard or neighborhood park
For information on working with the
FWS to restore wetlands and other fish
and wildlife habitats on your property,
see the Partners for Fish and Wildlife
Remove invasive weeds that displace
wildlife habitat. Plant native trees
and bushes with berries or nuts that
Young volunteers help plant white
provide birds and other creatures
with food and a place to live. To learn
how you can make your backyard
wildlife-friendly, see the National
Wildlife Federation’s Backyard Wildlife
your County Cooperative Extension
Service or local native plant society
for recommendations. Native species
adapted to local climate conditions
require fewer resources and less care
Keep litter, pet waste, grass clippings
and yard waste such as leaves out of
street gutters and storm drains. These
outlets drain into lakes, streams, rivers
and wetlands. Pet waste contains
bacteria and viruses that can threaten
fish, wildlife, and people.
Learn about natural insect controls
as alternatives to pesticides. Grow
plants that are natural insect repellents
among your flowers and vegetables.
For EPA-recommended ways to make
your lawn environmentally friendly,
If you use fertilizer, calibrate your
applicator for the correct amount.
Fertilizing more than the recommended
rate does not help plants grow better
and may harm them. In addition,
excess fertilizer may wash into streams
and rivers and can lead to amphibian
deformities and deaths as well as
excess aquatic plant growth.
Buy or make your own backyard
composter for your food waste products
like coffee grounds, vegetables, fruits,
or other non-animal products. Compost
is a natural fertilizer that enriches your
soil. It is especially good for vegetable
gardens. For information visit—
Pull weeds instead of using herbicides.
Plant a butterfly garden. To get
started, visit the North American
Butterfly Association’s website—
If you must use pesticides, herbicides,
or fungicides, don’t throw leftovers in
the trash, down a drain or into a storm
sewer; dispose of them properly. Visit
the Natural Resource Conservation
Service’s Backyard Conservation
website for pesticide disposal
information and other environmental
lawn and garden care tips —http://
Put a bird bath in the shade to attract
birds that eat insects and pollinate
plants—and provide “watching”
opportunities for people.
Turn the heat and water heater down
before you leave home.
Don’t pick flowers or collect wild
creatures for pets. Leave animals
and plants where you find them.
Going abroad? Think twice about
the things you buy. U.S. laws and an
international treaty make it unlawful
to bring many wildlife souvenirs into
our country. Visit the FWS Law
In your classroom
Ask your teachers to help you organize
clean-up days. Remove trash or
invasive weeds from vacant lots or
streams. Replant eroding river banks
with native trees that will stabilize
the soil and reduce the amount of dirt
going into the river. This will not only
improve the quality of water for aquatic
life and humans, it will provide habitat
for birds and mammals.
Plant a garden on your school
grounds to attract wildlife including
birds and butterflies. Build homes
for bats and birds, and have the
project certified by National Wildlife
Federation’s Backyard Wildlife
Hold a school Arbor Day native
tree planting. Invite local officials.
Visit theNational Arbor Day
Foundation’s website– www.arborday.
Let your teacher know about grants
to raise fish for release to the wild.—
Explore nature in your neighborhood
by celebrating National Wildlife Week
at your school. For more information,
visit the National Wildlife Federation’s
In stores or post offices
Don’t buy rare or “exotic” pets. Some
pets may have been smuggled into the
country or taken from their natural
Don’t buy products made from
endangered and threatened species.
Buy a Duck Stamp to help buy
wetlands—homes to many species.
In your car
Don’t throw cigarettes or trash
out your window. Cigarettes cause
thousands of forest fires every year.
Food trash along roadsides attracts
animals that can be killed by cars.
Recycle your engine oil. Contact
your local Solid Waste Management
Office to find out where.
Keep engines well tuned and tires
properly inflated to maximize fuel
Consider a career in conservation!
Join the thousands people
working to protect wildlife and
plants around the world. Visit—
U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Endangered Species Program
4401 N. Fairfax Drive, Room 420
Arlington, VA 22203
Planting a pollinator garden.
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