Tag Archives: wildlife

Owls Aren’t Wise & Bats Aren’t Blind – Warner Shedd

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Owls Aren’t Wise & Bats Aren’t Blind

A Naturalist Debunks Our Favorite Fallacies About Wildlife

Warner Shedd

Genre: Nature

Price: $1.99

Publish Date: June 27, 2000

Publisher: Crown/Archetype

Seller: Penguin Random House LLC


In this fascinating book, wildlife expert and enthusiast Warner Shedd refutes popular animal myths like squirrels remembering where they bury nuts, wolves howling at the moon, and oppossums "playing dead." Have you ever seen a flying squirrel flapping through the air, watched a beaver carrying a load of mud on its tail, or ducked when a porcupine started throwing its quills? Probably not, says Shedd, former regional executive for the National Wildlife Federation. Offering scientific evidence that refutes many of the most tenacious and persevering folklore about wild animals,  Owls Aren't Wise & Bats Aren't Blind  will captivate you with fascinating facts and humorous anecdotes about more than thirty North American species– some as familiar as the common toad, and others as elusive as the lynx.  Owls Aren't Wise & Bats Aren't Blind  is an entertaining dose of scientific reality for any nature enthusiast or armchair adventurer.

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Owls Aren’t Wise & Bats Aren’t Blind – Warner Shedd

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These Four Cases Will Quickly Show Who Gorsuch Really Is

Mother Jones

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When newly minted Supreme Court Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch takes the bench later this month, he will likely have an immediate impact on a court that has been somewhat paralyzed since the unexpected death of Justice Antonin Scalia in February last year. The court, evenly divided with eight members, has waited to tackle a number of potentially thorny cases, either because they were unable to agree on whether to hear them or they were reluctant to adjudicate them. Gorsuch has been confirmed just in time to change all that.

He will also shape the future when, on April 13, he participates in his first court conference, where the justices decide which new cases to hear in the new term and which they’re rejecting. Decisions from that meeting may demonstrate quickly whether fears Senate Democrats have raised about his views on everything from religious freedom to gay rights to corporate power were on target.

Here are a few of the pending cases where Gorsuch will have an opportunity to make an early mark:

Masterpiece Cake Shop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission: In 2012, a Colorado baker named Jack Phillips refused to make a custom wedding cake for two men getting married in Massachusetts, one of the few states where same-sex marriage was legal at the time. The couple was planning a reception in Colorado, where they lived and wanted to celebrate. Phillips claimed making the cake would violate his religious beliefs. The couple sued and has prevailed at every level in Colorado courts, which found that baking a gay wedding cake would not violate Phillips’ free speech or religious freedom rights, but refusing to make one would constitute illegal discrimination based on sexual orientation.The case has been stuck in conference purgatory, relisted multiple times for consideration, but probably not for long.

The gay-cake case seems custom-made for Gorsuch, who was one of the lower court judges who ruled in favor of Hobby Lobby, the craft store that claimed providing health insurance to its employees that covered contraception violated its corporate religious freedom rights. The Supreme Court later upheld the ruling in a 5-4 decision, and critics have warned it will be used to justify the kind of anti-gay discrimination at issue in the cake case. The presence of Gorsuch on the high court, instead of Merrick Garland, President Obama’s court nominee who was denied the seat by Senate Republicans, is likely to be decisive. It probably doesn’t bode well for the LGBT community, despite Gorsuch’s claims to have gay friends.

Salazar-Limon v Houston: Even though police shootings have been in the news and the source of intense protest over the past couple of years, the eight-member Supreme Court seems to have been reluctant to wade into the fray. This case is another one that’s been languishing at the court for many months, waiting for a decision on whether it will be heard. It involves what might be called the “reaching for the waistband” defense frequently deployed by cops who shoot unarmed people of color.

In 2010, 25-year-old Mexican immigrant Ricardo Salazar-Limon had a wife, children, and a construction job. One night after a long day of work, he was out with friends and driving to see another friend when a Houston cop pulled him over for speeding. He had no criminal record, no outstanding warrants, a valid drivers’ license, and insurance on his truck. He was in the country legally and was unarmed. But the cop told Salazar he was going to jail and tried to put him in handcuffs. Salazar jerked back and walked towards his vehicle, annoyed because the officer refused to even tell him why he might be going to jail. As he was walking the officer told him to stop and then shot him in the back, leaving Salazar paralyzed from the waist down.

Salazar sued the police department alleging excessive force. In his defense, the officer claimed that he feared for his life when he shot Salazar because he had moved his hands towards his waistband while walking away. It’s the same argument that’s been employed by cops in at least two other shootings of unarmed citizens in Houston, and it works. The District Court dismissed Salazar’s case, and the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the decision. The Supreme Court is now being asked to decide whether a court can dismiss a case against an officer in a suit for excessive force “by concluding that it is an ‘undisputed fact’ that the person reached for his waistband just because the officer said he did.”

The facts in this case are infuriating, yet it’s clear that the court has been unable to get the requisite four votes needed to hear it. Whether Gorsuch will provide that additional vote is anyone’s guess, but criminal justice reformers shouldn’t hold out hope that he’ll change the outcome. He’s ruled in a similar case before. In 2013, he wrote the majority opinion in a 10th Circuit ruling dismissing a lawsuit brought by the parents of a man who was tased in head by a cop and died. The cops in that case also used a “reached for his waistband” defense.

Alaska Oil and Gas Association v. Zinke: One of the biggest concerns raised by those opposing Gorsuch’s confirmation was that his record suggested he would be hostile to environmental regulations and the agencies that create them. That theory will be tested soon after Gorsuch’s swearing in, with a case involving the fate of polar bears.

In 2008, the Bush administration’s Fish and Wildlife Service officially declared the polar bear a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act. Two years later, the agency designated 187,000 square miles around the Bering Sea, the Arctic Ocean and the Alaskan North Slope as critical habitat for the bears, which created new restrictions on oil drilling in the region. The Alaskan oil industry sued and alleged that the Fish and Wildlife Service had overreached and made an arbitrary decision in selecting the boundaries for the critical habitat. The trial court partially agreed, but the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned that decision and sided with the wildlife agency. The appeal of that decision is pending before the Supreme Court, which will decide in the next few months whether to hear the case.

Federal agency overreach is something Gorsuch has a clear record on. He wrote a lengthy concurrence to one of his own opinions on the 10th Circuit, calling on the Supreme Court to limit the requirement that judges defer to federal agencies such as Fish and Wildlife when considering the implementation of laws made by Congress. This may be a sign that, despite his love of skiing, Gorsuch probably is not going to side with the polar bears.

Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia, Inc. v. Comer: The court agreed to hear this case last year, shortly before Justice Scalia died, but it took its own sweet time scheduling it for oral arguments. When it finally did, a year later, the case was set for the second-to-last week of arguments for the term. The court’s reluctance to decide this case may stem from the fact that it’s the most controversial church-state separation case on the docket this year, and the closest thing to a culture war case that’s likely to break out before the court recesses in June.

Here’s how we described it last fall:

A Michigan church applied for a grant from Missouri’s Scrap Tire Grant program for assistance resurfacing a playground at its preschool with a safer, rubber top made of old tires. While the church’s grant proposal was well rated, the state ultimately turned it down because the state constitution prohibits direct aid to a church. The church sued, with help from a legion of lawyers fresh off the gay marriage battles. They argue that Missouri’s prohibition, originally conceived as part of an anti-Catholic movement, violates the Establishment Clause of the Constitution, especially when the money was going to a purely secular use.

While this might have been an easy win for the church before the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, who was on the court when the justices took the case in January, the remaining eight-members might not be quite so well-disposed to rule in its favor. Forcing taxpayers to underwrite improvements to church property is in direct conflict with some of the court’s earlier rulings. Critics see a ruling for the church as a slippery-slope sort of argument, leading to compulsory government support of religion, which the Founders deeply opposed.

Once again, Gorsuch’s views in Hobby Lobby and religious freedom seem likely to predispose him to support church, but we’ll know more about his position on April 19, when he will be on the bench for the oral arguments in this case.

Liberal court watchers, having lost the confirmation fight, are now moving into breath-holding mode as they look to these cases for clues as to just what sort of justice Gorsuch is really going to be. As Elizabeth Wydra, president of the Constitutional Accountability Center said Friday, “Now that he has been confirmed, we certainly hope that Justice Gorsuch will fulfill Judge Gorsuch’s commitments: To be an independent jurist, to be a good judge who respects precedent, to be an originalist who respects the Constitution’s radical guarantee of equality, and follows the text and history of the Constitution wherever it leads.She added, “The burden remains on Gorsuch to prove that he will be a Justice who fairly applies the law and the Constitution and does not, contrary to President Trump’s promises, just represent certain segments of the population.”

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These Four Cases Will Quickly Show Who Gorsuch Really Is

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5 Reasons to Go Green this St. Patrick’s Day

More common than a Kiss Me, Im Irish shirt on St. Patricks Day, the color green is all around us. Whether its the leaves in the trees, in your beer, or the scarf of someone sitting across from you on public transit, its hard to go a day without seeing green.

Here are five reasons to embrace green, not only for St. Patricks Day, but all year.

Physiological benefits

It has been proven that time in nature can help relieve stress, minimize depression and increase ones overall health. By putting down your smartphone and heading out to connect with nature, you can expose yourself to some much-needed vitamin N (for nature).

Even just seeing the color green can have calming effects. Its also been shown that people with a green workspace or bedroom have fewer stomachaches than those without.

Carolinian forest (Photo by Simon Wilson)

It helps landscapes and species

In addition to its mental benefits, connecting with nature is a great way to increase your appreciation for the world around us. Surround yourself with green by planting a garden, caring for plants indoors, learning about the plants around you, going for a hike or simply strolling through a nearby forest or park.

By thinking green and doing your part for nature, youre helping to conserve species populations and the land they call home. Volunteering or donating to help conservation efforts across the country helps conserve landscapes for future generations.

Its good for you, and its tasty too

Eating green is a great way to do your part for the environment and Im not just talking about kale. Eating sustainable produce, meat and grains, especially locally harvested, can reduce your carbon footprint.

It can help you learn

Research has shown that green can help with learning comprehension. Next time youre reading new material, try laying a transparent sheet of green paper over the text. Green is said to help you absorb material more efficiently as well as increase reading speed.

It helps power plants and our planet

There once was a time where all plants on earth were comprised of grasses, ferns and horsetails green plants that used chlorophyll to capture sunlight and turn it into food and energy. All these ancient green plants had cellulose or wood in their cells. Eventually, stems gave rise to wood, to trunks. This gave rise to the first trees and to forests.

These oases of green became the lungs of our planet. They became our rain-makers, air-conditioners, water reservoirs, chemical recyclers and keepers of biodiversity. They also became major sinks of carbon dioxide. By literally growing green, these plants formed the infrastructure for life as we know it today.

So this St. Patrick’s Day, forget the green-colored drinks and try going green in a new way.

This post was written by Raechel Bonomo, editorial coordinator at the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC),and originally appeared on NCCs blog,Land Lines.

Post photo credit: Clovers (Photo by wiseGEEK)

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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5 Reasons to Go Green this St. Patrick’s Day

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Now Trump’s Going After the Bumblebees

Mother Jones

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First, it was puppies. Now Trump is going after bees.

Just weeks before leaving office, the Obama administration’s Fish and Wildlife Service placed the rusty patched bumblebee on the endangered species list—the first bee species to gain that status in the continental United States. Just weeks after taking office, the Trump administration temporarily reversed that decision. (See great pictures of this charismatic pollinator here.)

The official announcement of the delay cites a White House memo, released just after Trump’s inauguration, instructing federal agencies to freeze all new regulations that had been announced but not yet taken effect, for the purpose of “reviewing questions of fact, law, and policy they raise.” The Fish and Wildlife Service, which oversees the endangered species list, acted just in the nick of time in delaying the bumble bee’s endangered status—it was scheduled to make its debut on the list on February 10.

Rebecca Riley, a senior attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council, told me the move may not be a mere procedural delay. “We don’t think this is just a freeze—it’s an opportunity for the administration to reconsider and perhaps revoke the rule entirely,” she said.

Why would the Trump administration want to reverse Endangered Species Act protections for this pollinating insect? After all, the rusty patched bumble bee has “experienced a swift and dramatic decline since the late 1990s,” with its abundance having “plummeted by 87 percent, leaving small, scattered populations in 13 states,” according to a December Fish and Wildlife Service notice. And it’s not just pretty to look at—the Fish and Wildlide Services notes that like other bees, rusty patched bumblebees “pollinate many plants, including economically important crops such as tomatoes, cranberries and peppers,” adding that bumblebees are “especially good pollinators; even plants that can self-pollinate produce more and bigger fruit when pollinated by bumble bees.”

The answer may lie in the Fish and Wildlife Service’s blunt discussion of pesticides as a threat to this bumblebee species. Like commercial honeybees, bumblebees face a variety of threats: exposure to pesticides, disease, climate change, and loss of forage. FWS cited all of those, noting that “no one single factor is likely responsible, but these threats working together have likely caused the decline.” But it didn’t mince any words about neonicotinoids, a class of insecticides widely used on US farm fields.

Neonics, as they’re known, are a highly contentious topic. They make up the globe’s most widely used insecticide class, with annual global sales of $2.6 billion, dominated by agrichemical giants Syngenta and Bayer (which is currently in the process of merging with Monsanto). They have been substantially implicated in the declining health of honeybees and other pollinators, birds, and waterborne animals. The European Union maintains a moratorium on most neonic use in farming, based on their threat to bees. The US Environmental Protection Agency is currently in the middle of a yearslong reassessment of the risk they pose to bees and other critters.

Here is what the Fish and Wildlife Service wrote about neonics in the context of the rusty patched bumblebee:

Neonicotinoids have been strongly implicated as the cause of the decline of bees, in general, and for rusty patched bumble bees, specifically. The introduction of neonicotinoid use and the precipitous decline of this bumble bee occurred during the same time. Neonicotinoids are of particular concern because they are systemic chemicals, meaning that the plant takes up the chemical and incorporates it throughout, including in leaf tissue, nectar and pollen. The use of neonicotinoids rapidly increased when suppliers began selling pre-treated seeds. The chemical remains in pre-treated seeds and is taken up by the developing plants and becomes present throughout the plant. Pollinators foraging on treated plants are exposed to the chemicals directly. This type of insecticide use marked a shift to using systemic insecticides for large-scale, preemptive treatment.

Note also that of the 13 states that still harbor scattered rusty patched bumblebee populations, four—Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, and Ohio—are in the US Corn Belt, where corn and soybean crops from neonic-treated seeds are common.

The NRDC’s Riley noted that as the EPA reassess neonics, it is obligated to consider the insecticides’ impact on endangered species. If the rusty patched bumblebee makes it onto the list, that would place an endangered species that’s clearly harmed by neonics directly into the region where the lucrative chemicals are most widely used—possibly forcing it to restrict neonic use in those areas. It’s worth noting that the man Trump chose to lead the EPA transition team, Myron Ebell, works for the industry-funded Competitive Enterprise Institute, which runs a website, SafeChemicalPolicy.org, that exists to downplay the health and ecological impacts of chemicals. More on that here.

If science guides the Trump team, this fast-disappearing bumblebee will get its endangered status soon, Riley said. “We don’t think there’s any legitimate basis to roll this rule back,” she said. “The original decision to protect the bee was based on compressive scientific analysis.” The question is the degree to which science will guide the administration as it decides the fate of this once-flourishing insect.

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Now Trump’s Going After the Bumblebees

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5 Human Habits Harmful to Ocean Health

By Jaymi Heimbuch, Planet Green

No matter where we live, even if we’re in the middle of the Mojave desert or the middle of farmland in the mid-west, our connection to the ocean is surprisingly direct. The planet’s marine systems are intricately linked with our daily activities, even when those activities seem trivial or distant. Here are five ways small choices add up to big problems for the ocean’s health.

1. Carbon Emissions and Ocean Acidification

Every time we flip on the lights, turn on the water faucet, charge a cell phone, hop a plane or in any other way create carbon emissions, we’re directly causing the acidification of the ocean and the harmful disruption of marine life that results. The ocean can absorb about two-thirds of the carbon emissions in the atmosphere, but the more CO2 it tries to absorb, the more acidic it becomes. This altered pH causes everything from the softening or thickening of crustacean shells to the bleaching of corals to the overabundance of jellyfish. As we pump more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere through the burning of fossil fuels, ocean acidification worsens and marine life is being thrown out of whack.

Decisions like skipping an unnecessary plane ride, eating less meat, and buying green power can radically reduce your carbon footprint, and help alleviate one of the biggest threats facing our oceans.

2. Packaging and the Pacific Garbage Patch

Americans generate a lot of trash. Each of us tosses about 185 pounds of plastic per year, a vast amount of it from packaging. From plastic bags, to take-out containers, to packaging used for everything from toys to food, we use up and throw out an incredible amount of something that will never, ever disappear. In fact, much of it is making re-appearances in our oceans. The Pacific Garbage Patch and four other trash vortexes illustrate the problem of plastics in our oceans. Plastics are not only killing marine life, but also entering the food chain to ultimately end up on our dinner plates through the seafood we eat.

By making purchases that take into account the packaging of the products, and choosing to a) minimize as much as possible how much packaging we consume and b) recycling as much of what we do end up consuming as possible, we can make big strides in stopping the flow of plastic into the ocean.

3. Sushi Dinner and Disappearing Seafood

Our fisheries that once seemed endless are now reaching the brink of collapse. Scientists estimate that if our current practices continue, 100 percent of global fisheries will completely collapse by 2050. That is a very short time from now. Even if you think of yourself as a sushi addict in the worst way, or can’t seem to live without salmon or shrimp a couple times a week, you can still make sustainable choices.

By cutting back where you can, keeping an eye on the Monterey Bay Aquarium Sustainable Seafood Guide, and taking advantage of handy techy tools for buying fish, you can help ensure that our seas will have fish in the future.

Photo Credit: mdid via Flickr

4. Over-Consumption and Whale Deaths

Wait, ordering that toy from Amazon.com could cause whale deaths? The short answer is yes. While humans have been sailing the seas for millennia, the shipping industry has skyrocketed over the last few decades. Much of that is due to our rabid consumption habits. Raw materials are transported on container ships to manufacturing plants, and products are then loaded up on ships to be transported to the hands of consumers. The more stuff we consume, the more stuff needs to be shipped across oceans. But crossing paths with those container ships and carrier vessels are whales.

The loud sounds of ships — or acoustic smog — makes it hard for whales to communicate with one another, which means heightened stress levels and decreased opportunities for mating and feeding, among other consequences. Even worse, collision with ships is a major problem for whales, including threatened and endangered species.

Reducing our consumption of material goods can literally help threatened whale populations recover.

5. Driving and Deep-water Oil Wells

Unless you’ve been living far, far away from any media source, you’re probably well aware of the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico thanks to Deepwater Horizon, a BP-owned offshore oil rig that has been leaking since late April. It takes just the tiniest leap of logic to connect our reliance on oil to our car-dependent culture. Currently the US uses about 19.7 million barrels of oil a day, of which 71 percent goes to transportation via cars, trucks, buses, airplanes. So, the longer we stay reliant on fossil-fuel powered vehicles to get from point A to point B, rather than bikes and public transportation, the longer we stay dependent on drilling for those rapidly diminishing fossil fuels, which means a high likelihood of risky wells placed in deep water areas of the ocean and the statistically inevitable occurrence of another disaster like the one playing out in the Gulf of Mexico.

Minimizing our reliance on oil equates to keeping our oceans safe from deadly pollution.

Related:
10 Surprising Ways We Can Restore Our Oceans
12 of the Biggest Threats Facing Our Oceans

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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5 Human Habits Harmful to Ocean Health

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The most accurate picture of the Dakota Access showdown is on social media.

The Ross Sea marine reserve, which covers 600,000 square miles of the Southern Ocean off coast of the Antarctic, will be protected from commercial fishing for the next 35 years. Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources, an international consortium of governments, approved it unanimously on Thursday.

At nearly twice the size of Texas, the area is home to over 10,000 species of flora and fauna, including penguins, seals, whales, seabirds, and fish.

But Ross Sea is also important for the valuable role it plays in research on the impact of climate change on marine ecosystems.

Secretary of State John Kerry celebrated the park as “one of the last unspoiled ocean wilderness areas on the planet,” and a sign of “further proof that the world is finally beginning to understand the urgency of the threats facing our planet.”

There are some environmentalists who say the designation doesn’t go far enough. World Wildlife Foundation’s Chris Johnson noted that the agreement must be made permanent.

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The most accurate picture of the Dakota Access showdown is on social media.

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Trump just wants to save the birds, you guys

Trump just wants to save the birds, you guys

By on May 26, 2016Share

Donald J. Trump is for the birds.

Speaking to oil and gas interests in Bismarck, N.D., on Thursday, the presumptive Republican nominee made clear his thoughts on two energy-policy cornerstones: renewable energy and our feathered friends.

Trump expressed disdain with the Department of Justice, which “filed a lawsuit against seven North Dakota oil companies for the death of 28 birds, while the administration fast-tracked wind projects that kill more than a million birds a year.”

“Far more than a million birds,” he clarified.

DOJ did file these charges in 2011. It has also targeted wind developers under the same legislation, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

As for the million-bird figure, the Fish and Wildlife Service estimates the number is likely closer to 500,000. Which is a lot of birds — but for reference, oil and gas kill around the same amount, and the coal industry snuffs out close to 8 million birds annually.

The real estate developer has never been the biggest fan of wind farms:

Except when he’s talking to clean-energy advocates: “It’s an amazing thing when you think — you know, where they can, out of nowhere, out of the wind, they make energy,” he mused to an Iowa voter late last year.

The same line-straddling appeared in Trump’s remarks on solar.

“The problem with solar is it’s very expensive,” he said a month after the world reached several tipping points for competitive renewable energy.

“I know a lot about solar,” he said in a press conference earlier on Thursday. We’re still waiting to find out what he meant.

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Trump just wants to save the birds, you guys

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How to Make Your Garden Wildlife-Friendly

The National Wildlife Federation designated the month of May as Garden for Wildlife Month. Urban expansion in many parts of the world continues to destroy valuable wildlife habitat. You can help turn this around by encouraging more wildlife in your area. There are many simple ways you can make your backyard more wildlife-friendly.

Water Features

Clean water is vital for the survival of all living creatures. Some of your local wildlife will need water simply for drinking and bathing. Whereas, animals like frogs and amphibians, and certain insects, need water for reproduction and a place to live.

You can start small. You might be surprised how many wild visitors a simple birdbath or shallow container of water will bring to your garden. You can also add a larger water feature, like a fountain or artificial pond.

Make use of any natural water features you already have on your property, such as a creek or wetland. If the area has been damaged for any reason, take the time to restore it to its natural state. Build up the banks if needed. Plant reeds, sedges or water plants along the waters edge to provide shelter and living spaces. These will also help naturally filter the water and keep it clean.

Food Sources

You can purposely put out food for animals, such as bird seeds or liquid hummingbird feeders. Planting wildlife-friendly plants is a good hands-off choice.

When youre considering what to plant in your wildlife garden, think of what it can provide animals. Does it make fruit like nuts and berries or plentiful flowers and seeds? Are the leaves and stems eatable to foraging animals? Try to avoid plants with thorns or toxic foliage and ones that are sterile and dont produce fruit.

Some great low-maintenance fruiting plants are raspberries, hazelnuts, wild currants, crabapples, hawthorn or Oregon grape. Many common wildflowers will provide abundant amounts of pollen, nectar and seeds. Try cornflowers, poppies, asters, blanket flowers, geraniums, cosmos, Shasta daisies or herbs like oregano, thyme and sage.

Another option is to include areas of natural grass or shrubs if you have the space. These are great for foraging animals like deer, geese or rabbits.

Shelter

Wild animals benefit from areas where they can hide from predators, make a nest or other home, as well as take cover from poor weather. Shelter can take many forms.

Plants and natural areas provide excellent spaces for wildlife to live. Try to include shrubs and trees where you can in order to provide height in your garden. The larger a plant is, the more shelter it can naturally provide.

Leave fallen leaves and branches on the ground when possible. These will allow spaces for a variety of species to move into. For instance, native bees and other beneficial insects often make homes and overwinter in fallen plant debris. Even undisturbed piles of rocks or logs can offer excellent shelter for many animals like snakes, rodents and insects.

You can also build your own garden shelters. Birdhouses, bat houses, bee boxes or an outdoor dog house are good starting projects. Its helpful to preserve any old rock walls or other human-made structures that may or may not still be in use. Insects and other small creatures can use the cracks and holes as habitat.

Go Organic

Chemicals used in the landscape will often do a lot more harm than you intend. For instance, many weed and feed products for lawns contain the herbicide 2,4-D. Studies have found that dogs whose owners use lawn products containing 2,4-D are twice as likely to develop canine malignant lymphoma.

Use compost and other organic products to provide nutrients and replace synthetic fertilizers. Find organic ways to target weeds and insect pests individually, rather than applying broad-range chemical pesticides. For example, you can purchase ladybug larvae at many garden centers to deal with an aphid infestation. The rest of your wildlife population will thank you.

Habitat

Consider creating some wild, human-free areas in your yard. Plants native to your area would be especially well-adapted for this use. A wild area could be left on its own with very little irrigation or maintenance, which can help more sensitive species establish themselves without human interference.

Related:
10 Ways to Save the Bees
What to Plant, Weed and Prune in May
Gardening for Butterflies

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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How to Make Your Garden Wildlife-Friendly

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25 sneaky names for palm oil

green4us

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“THE LEGEND OF THE MILKY WAY THE SANDALWOOD MAIDEN THE HUNDRED-KNOT BAMBOO THE STORY OF TAM AND CAM THACH SANH – LY THONG SUE GOD FOR RAIN STORY OF KITCHEN GODS THE MOON BOY (CUOI) DRAGON'S CHILDREN, FAIRY'S GRAND CHILDREN THANH GIONG STORY OF WATER MELON HOUSE OF THE RISIN' SUN”

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7 Fascinating Facts About Bats

Mother Jones

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Silhouetted against an orange harvest moon, fluttering out of a haunted house, or circling Count Dracula’s cape: We often think of bats as creepy, especially this time of year.

But actually, these maligned creatures are crucial to many ecosystems—and our economy. What’s more, they’re in trouble. A few important facts to know about our winged, insect-munching friends:

Bats flying at sunset Umkehrer/Shutterstock

Bats save us billions of dollars a year. Bats eat their bodyweight in insects every night. In 2011, researchers at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville used modeling techniques to calculate how much bats’ amazing insect-eating abilities are worth to US farmers. The estimates included the value of prevented crop damage from pests that bats eat, as well as the amount of money farmers would have to spend on pesticides to do the same job. They came up with a wide—but staggering—range: between $3 billion and $53 billion dollars a year.

A few years later, Josiah Maine, then a graduate student at Southern Illinois University’s Cooperative Wildlife Research lab, decided to test out those estimates on the most important American crop: corn. Maine’s team set up enclosures around corn fields that let in insects but prevented bats from entering and foraging, and then measured how that corn fared compared with corn in fields where bats could eat insects to their hearts’ desire—and found 50 percent more fungal growth and crop damage in the enclosed corn. They then estimated the cost of damage per acre and extrapolated it across all the acres of corn grown in the world. The total price tag? More than $1 billion per year, not including the cost of downstream environmental damage caused by increased pesticide use.

Long-eared bats eat insects that damage crops. De Meester/ZUMAPRESS

Bats prevent disease. A common misconception is that most bats carry rabies and other diseases. In fact, the vast majority of bats don’t have rabies, and out of more than 1,300 species of bats, only three suck the blood of other animals (and only one of other mammals). On the other hand, bats eat insects that spread diseases we really should be worried about. According to David Blehert, who leads the US Geological Survey’s Wildlife Disease Diagnostics Lab, bats play an important role controlling the spread of West Nile virus.

Without bats, there would be no tequila. Many species of bats pollinate plants. After they use their insanely long tongues to feast on the sweet nectar of flowers, pollen collects on their muzzles, which they spread from the male part of the flower to the female part of the flower.

More than 300 species of plants depend on bats to survive in many tropical and desert ecosystems. These include plants that humans eat, like the agave used to make tequila, as well as banana, peach, and mango trees.

Bats help save forests. Fruit-eating bats also play a crucial role in rejuvenating clear-cut rainforests. After a rainforest ecosystem is decimated, the first step toward rebuilding is the spreading of seeds by the poop of fruit-eating birds, bats, and other animals. But bats, which cover large distances to forage for fruit at night, do the best job at spreading “pioneer” plants, the flora that first begin to grow after clear cutting.

In North America, bats are in big trouble. Bats are dying in unprecedented numbers in the eastern United States and Canada, thanks to a terrifying fungal disease. Nearly 6 millions bats have perished in the past decade, including more than 90 percent of the populations of some species.

The recent bat troubles began about a decade ago, when a nasty fungus called Pseudogymnoascus destructans (Pd) found its way into caves full of hibernating bats in upstate New York. Unlike bacteria and other pathogens, this fungus thrives in cold temperatures and finds an ideal host in the sleeping bats. It creeps onto their muzzles and spreads on the skin covering their wings, irritating them and causing them to wake and move before they are supposed to. This disrupts their energy conservation and fat storage, causing bats to die before hibernation is over or leave their caves too early and starve outside.

Perhaps most frightening of all, the fungus has spread very quickly: Since 2006 when wildlife biologists first identified it in New York, it has appeared in 26 states and five Canadian provinces. Just last month it arrived in yet another state, Wyoming, although it has yet to claim bat lives there. (Bats don’t start dying until a year or more after the fungus arrives in their caves.) White-nose syndrome has affected half of the 47 bat species in the United States, including the once ubiquitous little brown bat and the northern long-eared bat, which is now a threatened species.

A little brown bat affected by white-nose syndrome US Fish and Wildlife Service

Scientists test the wings of a little brown bat for white-nose syndrome in Tennessee. Amy Smotherman Burgess/ZUMAPRESS

Some researchers are trying are trying to save bats by manipulating their microbiomes. Blehert says scientists have started to make progress preventing white-nose syndrome’s spread. They discovered that once the fungus enters a cave’s soil it persists for long periods of time, allowing it to travel on the shoe of a spelunker or on the wing of a bat. Scientists and recreational cavers have begun to take precautionary measures to decontaminate clothes and equipment.

Researchers are also looking into more dramatic ways to fight the disease, including innovative vaccination efforts and cutting-edge biological control methods that manipulate the microbes on a bat’s skin so its microbiome develops a resistance to the pathogen. Researchers have found that bats’ immune systems, which largely shut down during hibernation, do not notice to the invasion of Pd fungus, allowing the pathogen to easily out-compete the microbes on bats’ skin that normally fight off germs. Scientists are trying to introduce new organisms to bats’ microbiome that could resist the fungus.

Because of white-nose syndrome, the northern long-eared bat is now a threatened species. Bruno Manunza/ZUMAPRESS

The US government is starting to care about bats. The kind of research needed to counteract white-nose syndrome can be extremely complicated and often costly. Organizations like the Nature Conservancy and bat expert Merlin Tuttle’s Bat Conservation International have made funding available to study white-nose syndrome, but the disease is not going away anytime soon and there is always a worry about how sustainable such funding will be.

Luckily, the US government has also stepped in. At the end of last month, the US Fish and Wildlife Service announced that it was giving another $2.5 million in grants for white-nose syndrome research. Since 2008, the agency has donated nearly $24 million to federal, state, and nongovernmental organizations to study and prevent the disease.

Researchers like Blehert and Maine also hope the new findings showing bats’ economic value will encourage support from spheres outside of wildlife conservation. “It’s not only ethical, but there is an economic incentive to conserve bats too,” Maine told me. “For a lot of people, this latter argument is really persuasive.”

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7 Fascinating Facts About Bats

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