Helping Nature Near You…

Helping Nature Near You…

Ready for National Wildlife Week? This is a special time for learning more about wildlife and how we can help it. The program is brought to you by the National Wildlife Federation (the group that publishes Ranger Rick). This year the week runs from April 16 to 22, and the theme is Explore Nature in Your Neighborhood. (Learn more on the Web at

You can help celebrate by getting to know the wild creatures in your own neighborhood–and then lending them a hand! Here are peeks at three different neighborhoods, along with some ideas for getting started wherever you live.


They Did It…

Batty 4 Bats

The number of bats near Kansas City, Missouri, was going down. But the number of people who care about bats there is going up! That’s thanks to a group of hard-working eighth-graders. They started a group called Batty 4 Bats.

These young teens give talks to local groups. They’ve also developed some lesson plans for use in local libraries. The kids tell people how important bats are to nature and to farmers.

“Humans are the greatest threat to the bat population,” says Natalie Blackburn, a member of the group. “We want to change their battitudes.” The group won a Bayer/National Science Foundation Award for their project.

Take Action:

You can try for this award too. Go to or have an adult call 1-800-291-6020 and ask for an application.

YOU Can Do It Too!

Meet Your WILD Neighbors

How many of your wild neighbors do you know? What birds have you seen? Do you have ground squirrels or tree squirrels? Are there lizards where you live? It’s fun to find out!

Take Action: For great tips on finding creatures, see the June 2000 issue of Ranger Rick or go to www. on the Web. You can also get ideas at a local nature center or in nature activity books at your library.

Become Your Neighborhood’s Nature Expert

Keep track of your wild neighbors–and tell your friends what’s going on. Sketch or write about your wild neighbors in a nature journal (see “Adopt a Wild Place” at the Web site listed above). You can even make a Web page about your neighborhood’s nature.

Take Action: To learn how to make a Web page, go to and follow their instructions.

Whatcha Think?

Where is the strangest place you ever found wildlife? In your shoe? In the bathtub? Growing in a rain gutter? Nesting in a traffic light? Send your weird wildlife discovery to

Ranger Rick, Dept. WT

11100 Wildlife Center Dr.

Reston, VA 20190-5362

Fifty million people in the United States enjoy birdwatching. Many keep lists of all the different kinds of birds they’ve seen. Do YOU keep a bird list?

More raccoons may live in cities and suburbs than in the country. Why? For these and some other kinds of animals, cities make great homes. Cities usually are warmer than the countryside. There are fewer enemies in the city. And there’s good food available–including garbage!

In the wild, pigeons used to live on rocky cliff ledges. Cities have ledges too–on buildings. So pigeons love living there. (There are more pigeons than people living in the city of Venice, Italy.)

Last year, a bald eagle nested in a tree right in the city of Olympia, Washington.

Trees are air-pollution busters–especially in the city. See pages 38-39 to find out all the good things trees do.

Many creatures have fewer animal enemies in the city. But they’d better watch out for cars!


They Did It…

Butterfly Boosters

Fourth-grade students in Concord, New Hampshire, are working hard to help an endangered butterfly called the Karner blue. And they’re getting help from government people and the National Wildlife Federation.

When Karner blues are caterpillars, they eat one kind of plant–a species of lupine (LOO-pin). So the students started 100 lupine plants in their classroom. Then they planted their seedlings where Karner blue butterflies once lived on a patch of land near their airport (above).

When the plants have grown and spread, scientists hope to bring back the butterflies to this piece of land. Thanks to these kids, the Karner blues will have a great place to live!

TAKE ACTION: Find out how YOU can help an endangered species on the next page.

Deer are here, big time. In New York State’s suburbs, there are more than six times as many white-tailed deer as there were in 1970.

Want more wildlife to come to your yard? Put in a birdbath or dig a pond. Be sure to keep the water clean!

Build a bat box! For instructions, go on the Web to Under “Projects,” click on “Bat House Project” and then on “Online Plans.”

If your family cuts your grass before it gets too long, you won’t have to rake the clippings. Just leave them on the lawn! They’ll rot and act as a natural fertilizer.

Bluebirds need houses!

You can get a bluebird house plan from the Web at or send $2 and a business-sized self-addressed stamped envelope to North American Bluebird Society; P.O. Box 74; Darlington, WI 53530-0074.

YOU Can Do It Too!

Make Your Yard Wildlife-Friendly

Want to attract wildlife to your backyard or schoolyard? It’s easy! To get animals to drop by or move in, you need to provide:

* Food. Anything from a simple bird feeder to a garden full of plants with leaves, flowers, berries, and nuts and other seeds that animals like to eat.

* Water. A birdbath or shallow dish for birds, or a small pond for frogs and other water creatures.

* Shelter. Brush piles, stone walls, shrubs, and trees all make good hideaways.

* Places to Raise Young. Bird houses, bat boxes, and some kinds of leafy plants (for insects) are all good places.

Take Action:

The National Wildlife Federation can help. Go to our Web site at and click on “The Basics” and “Beyond the Basics.” You can also write to

Backyard Wildlife Habitats

11100 Wildlife Center Drive

Reston, VA 20190-5362

Endangered Species

Want to help save endangered species? Here’s how.

1. Find out which ones live near you. Go to this site on the Internet and click on your state: or call your local U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service office. Your state also keeps its own list of endangered species, so ask someone in your state government for that list too.

2. Do some research. Go to the library or onto the Internet and look up information about these species. One good place to start is the National Wildlife Federation’s “Keep the Wild Alive” Web site at

3. Find groups of people who are helping your species. Write to them and ask how you can help. (See “Who’s Helping?” on page 19.)

4. Tell someone about what you are doing. Make a poster. Write a report. Tell your class, friends, neighbors, and local newspaper. Your teacher may give you extra credit for your work. And the endangered animals and plants will get the attention they deserve!

A pile of branches or rocks makes a good home for chipmunks, lizards, and other small animals.


They Did It…

Starting with Seeds

Hey, where’d the prairie go? The land in the Midwest used to be covered with tall grasses and prairie flowers. But farmers and others turned it into cropland, pasture, cities, and highways. Now, the tallgrass prairie is almost gone in the United States.

Students at West Delaware Middle School in Iowa are helping to bring back some of the prairie–one seed at a time. In the fall, the students look for prairie grasses and flowers that grow near their school. (These plants have survived in tiny patches of land along roads and in places that can’t be farmed.) The students collect the plants’ seeds in buckets (above) and take them back to school. There they clean the seeds and get them ready for other groups to plant. Thanks to these students, about 100 acres have been planted again as prairie!

Ponds built by beavers help many different creatures. Ducks and geese rest and nest here. Frogs and fish live here. Raccoons, deer, and many other creatures come here for a drink.

Mountain biking is a great way to see nature. But please stay on the trails!

Farmers can help wildlife by letting land “go wild” around the edges of their fields.

Dead trees are full of life!

Eighty-five kinds of birds in the United States build their nests in the holes of dead trees.

Cougars are found throughout the West. They are most active at dusk and dawn. Their favorite meal? Deer. Do you see any deer or cougars here?

Rock and roll! Turn over rocks to find out what’s living underneath–and then gently turn them back.

Gardeners and farmers who grow plants organically don’t use chemical pesticides. That means they keep these poisons away from wildlife, water–and people.

YOU Can Do It Too!


One of the best ways to help nature is to help form an EarthSavers Club! To find out how, go on the Web to If you’re a middle-schooler, check out our Teen Adventures at High-schoolers can do cool stuff for the Earth in our Earth Tomorrow program (

Who’s Helping?

Are people in your community already working to help wildlife? Maybe you could work with them. Call your library or local nature center and ask . . .

* Is there a local environmental group you could call?

* Are there local animals that could use your help?

Clean It Up!

You can help make your favorite stream, river, beach, or park a little better.

* National River Cleanup Week is May 12-19, 2001. To register your group, have an adult send an e-mail to or call 865-558-3595.

* National Public Lands Day is on Saturday, September 29, 2001. For more information, contact the NEET Foundation by clicking on or having an adult call 202-261-6474.


Want to spend some time outdoors going on adventures? Ranger Rick’s NatureLink has weekend camping programs for kids and families. Contact or write to NatureLink; 11100 Wildlife Center Dr.; Reston, VA 20190-5362.

Tell Us!

If you’ve done a project for wildlife, we’d love to know about it. Send photos or drawings and a description of what you’ve done to Ranger Rick, Dept. EP, 11100 Wildlife Center Dr.; Reston, VA 20190-5362 or e-mail to

COPYRIGHT 2001 National Wildlife Federation

COPYRIGHT 2002 Gale Group