Look at any photograph of Fort Lauderdale and you cannot help but notice our gleaming office towers, our bustling airports, and our well planned network of neighborhoods and streets. You will also notice an impressive amount of green and blue, places where we have been able to preserve the unique ecosystem that brought people here to settle long ago.
The early settlers were impressed with the bounty of the land and the diversity of wildlife. From the beginning, the animals that populate our region brought the curious and the courageous, and they, along with the beautiful climate that supports them, were the main attraction in our burgeoning tourism industry and a driver of population growth. Settlers also knew that certain animals were crucial to their survival. Some they could hunt and eat, and some were needed for healthy crops, and still others controlled the mosquito population and other dangerous pests. While the City's human population grew, the settlers knew it was important to keep the animal population here and healthy.
It is still the same today. While Fort Lauderdale is a bustling urban epicenter, we are proud to be a little wild and are doing everything we can to stay that way. You can help. This section of our website introduces the many animals which you will see around our beautiful City, and it provides the information you need to welcome them safely into your neighborhood.
Meet the wondrous inhabitants of our air, land and sea. Learn who they are, how they help us, and what we can do to help them. From the manatees and turtles who are the Stars of Our Seas, to the butterflies and hummingbirds who are our Productive Pollinators, from our Natural Pest Controllers like frogs, bats and owls, to the real Snowbirds who migrate through each year, you will be fascinated to know your wild neighbors.
Access to wildlife viewing can actually increase the value of property and improve our quality of life. No matter how much or how little time you have, there is something everyone can do to make sure our City is a safe and healthy place for the animals who live here. Following a few simple tips to Green Your Routine will ensure that the water, soil, air and plants provide what animals need. It's good for them and good for us!
Animals need four things to thrive: food, water, shelter and a place to raise their young. Conscious protection or development of spaces that provide these things is important. We encourage our neighbors to participate in the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) Certified Wildlife Habitat program. Learn how to certify your property and why its important especially as our City recently completed the 2019 recertification process to maintain it's Certified Community Wildlife Habitat™ (CCWH) designation.
While most of our wild neighbors will stay at a safe distance, at some time you may find yourself face to face with a creature who can use your assistance. Follow these guidelines for watching over the animal and for contacting local providers who can rescue them and return them to the wild.
Finally, just as there are invasive plant species, there are also animals that do not belong in our natural areas. It is cruel to release an animal that has depended upon you for food and care without following a process to acclimate it to the wild, and it can be very harmful to our ecosystem. Releasing a tiny fish or frog or spider into our waters or parks may seem harmless, but over time their populations can grow, endanger native animals and disrupt the entire food chain. If you can no longer handle the care of your pet, please follow the guidelines we provide here.