In addition to building and registering your own Certified Wildlife Habitat, there are many elements of a sustainable lifestyle that support wildlife. Click on each recommendation to get more information and practical advice.
In your garden...
Reduce or eliminate chemical fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides. Measure carefully when using any of these products. One of the biggest reasons that we have a problem with invasive plants is the improper use of garden chemicals. Fertilizers help your plants to grow, but they also help invasives, especially if the product runs off into our waterways. The same goes for herbicides and pesticides. Just th eright amount is a good thing. Too much can kill off essential native populations and send the food chain our of balance.
Plant native plants, and remove invasive plants. We humans are unique in that we enjoy and can benefit from exotic foods that don't grow in our home towns, but animals are not the same. Animals thrive on the food locally and naturally available to them. They also prefer native plants for nesting. Invasive plants serve only to support invasive animals.
Plant trees. There are not enough good things to be said about trees. They provide shelter, food, a place to raise young. They are almost complete wildlife habitats in and of themselves! Plant native trees and you will have beautiful song birds and cute fuzzy animals visit you all year long.
Dispose of yard debris properly. Do not let yard debris pile up and become a home to either native or invasive animals You may end up with wildlife, but not the kind you will appreciate. Insects, rodents and snakes all love to nest in yard debris. Yard debris can also be dangerous to animals-- especially things like empty lawn chemical bottles and sharp parts from tools. Finally, garden pots left out can catch water and provide a breeding ground for mosquitoes.
Prevent storm water pollution. Anything that runs off into our waterways or is absorbed into the groundwater can harm native animals and could potentially help invasives. Remember, animals live in and drink from our waterways. Please use garden chemicals carefully, wash your car on pervious pavers with non-toxic soaps or at a commercial car wash site, and never ever dump anything into a storm drain or waterway.
Reduce your carbon footprint. Animals depend upon available habitat. When average temperatures rise or fall for sustained periods, habitat can be adversely affected. Greenhouse gas in our atmosphere contributes to climate irregularity and change. By reducing your usage of those things that emit greenhouse gas, you help to prevent habitat loss.
If you live by the beach, follow lighting guidelines for turtle nesting season. Spring and Summer are sea turtle nesting season. Turtles follow the moon's reflection on the ocean to build their nests and return to the water. You can minimize their confusion, by installing special lighting and/or turning your lights off at certain times.
Adopt your pets from reputable shelters, agencies and breeders. These organizations will not offer invasive animals for adoption, and they will be able to direct you through any applicable permit processes for exotics.
Do not release exotic (or any) pets into our parks, waterways or anywhere in the City. They'll either not survive, or they will thrive and endanger local native wildlife. Neither end is a good one for a pet you made a commitment to protect.
At home and around town....
Put litter in its place. Litter on sidewalks, streets, beaches, waterways, empty lots and other places is very dangerous to wildlife. Litter can wound or entrap unsuspecting animals. It can also be mistaken for favorite foods.
Report sightings of invasive animals and plants. Our wildlife conservation agencies cannot be everywhere at all times and they really rely on good neighbors to report sightings of potentially invasive plants and animals. Don't worry about being wrong. If you think you see and invasive, a good place to start is the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Hotlineat (888) IVE-GOT1.
Take the time to rescue animals in distress. Wounded and sick animals are at great risk from predators, car traffic, and bad weather. While it is true that not every animal can or should be saved, we ask that you open your heart, take the time to help, and leave the decision making to the experts. You may end up helping an animal from an endangered species, or an animal expecting babies! You might even rescue someone's beloved pet. If you see an animal in distress, observe from a safe distance and follow our guidelines.
Go fishing! Check local fishing regulations. Most invasive fish have no "bag limit." When you take these fish out of the water, you are doing our ecosystem a favor. To learn to fish and inquire about permits, contact our Parks & Recreation department, as well as the International Game Fishing Association.
Volunteer! There are many ways for you to lend your time to helping wildlife. You can work with us to remove invasives on Fort Lauderdale Cares Day or have fun rounding up air potatoes. You can work with the South Florida Wildlife Center, Broward Humane Society or local advocates and shelters. You can participate in clean-up days. You can plant trees. You can count turtle nests. And, you can certainly build and register your Certified Wildlife Habitat!
Take care not to bring back plants or animals. Insects and seeds especially can be stow-aways. Check your bags for small invaders. Follow guidelines for preventing exposure to bed bugs and other pests. Use an insect repellent on your body, clothing, bags and linens as recommended by your health care professional.
Do not bring fresh food into the country from foreign destinations. Insects, fungi, mold spores, and animal eggs can hide in fruits, vegetables, grains and other foods. Even if you don't see anything, it does not mean that these are safe to bring into the country. Please check with the U.S. Department of Agriculture for more information.