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 endangered species. However,
more than 1,300 species of plants,
birds, fish, 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. Pulling invasive weeds that are
forcing out native plants, rebuilding
crumbling river banks, planting native
trees—these are things we all can do to
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
familiar species, such as the gray
wolf, to the lesser-known but equally
important species, such as the western
lily or the Karner blue butterfly.
Here’s how you can make a difference:
In your community
To learn about ways you can assist
native wildlife in your area, contact
your local U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Service (FWS) office—http://www.
fws.gov/offices/ or your local natural
heritage program or conservation data
Volunteer at a local wildlife refuge—
Join a local or national
Support natural areas and nature
centers near you. Work with
community members to maintain
and restore habitat.
Contact your State or area fish
and game office to learn how you can
become involved in community wildlife
preservation efforts —http://www. fws.
Walk, ride your bike, carpool, or use
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
Know and follow your fishing and
hunting laws. Individual State,
territorial, and tribal agencies sell
recreational fishing and hunting
licenses and are the best source of
information regarding hunting and
fishing seasons, local regulations,
and areas that are open or closed to
hunting and fishing—http://www.fws.
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 do tremendous damage
to 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
To get more information on how you
can work with the FWS to restore
Young volunteers help plant white
wetlands and other important fish and
wildlife habitats on your property,
see the Partners for Fish and Wildlife
Plant native trees and bushes with
berries or nuts that 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 help in identifying native plants.
Native species adapted to local climate
conditions require fewer resources and
less care to flourish.
Keep litter, pet wastes, and leaves
out of street gutters and storm drains.
These outlets drain directly into lakes,
streams, rivers and wetlands. Pet
wastes contain bacteria and viruses
that can threaten fish, wildlife, and
Learn about natural insect controls
as alternatives to pesticides. Grow
plants that are natural insect repellents
among your flowers and vegetables
to help keep unwanted insects away.
For more information on these and
other EPA-recommended ways to make
your lawn environmentally friendly,
If you use fertilizer, calibrate your
applicator to make sure you apply
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
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 more information on how
to make your own compost, 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. Travelers don’t
realize that several U.S. laws and an
international treaty make it unlawful
to bring many wildlife souvenirs into
our country. To learn more about these
laws and what products are illegal to
import into the U.S., visit the FWS
Law Enforcement page—http://www.
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 that come
from endangered and threatened
plant and animal species. Buy a Duck
Stamp to help buy wetlands—homes to
many wildlife species. See http://www.
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 of dedicated
men and women who are working
to protect wildlife and plants
here in the U.S. and around the
world. For more information
on career opportunities, visit—
U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Endangered Species Program
4401 N. Fairfax Drive, Room 420
Arlington, VA 22203
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