Every year in Washington, 35,000 acres of wildlife habitat is converted into housing or other developed land. This makes every piece of available habitat an important one—including your very own back yard. It is important to take steps toward making your backyard habitat safe and one that provides food, shelter and water for our wild neighbors.
One way to ensure that your back yard is a great place for wildlife is to get it certified as a backyard wildlife sanctuary. There are two popular backyard sanctuary programs in Washington State; they are operated by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and the National Wildlife Federation. The requirements for most programs are similar and involve providing food sources, water sources, and places for wild animals to raise their young. Backyard sanctuary programs will help you to attract more wild animals to your property, increasing biodiversity and creating a healthy ecosystem.
If you aren’t quite ready for that step but you still want to provide a good backyard habitat, you can start by following some of these suggestions from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife:
- Plant more native trees and shrubs
- Add a water source such as a bird bath or garden pond
- Add bird houses or leave snags on your property for cavity nesting birds
- Cover any openings around your house where non-native House Sparrows and European Starlings may nest
- Keep your cat indoors to help protect wildlife
- Get your neighbors interested in backyard wildlife
- Keep bird feeders clean and safe
If we continue to work together and conserve backyard habitats, we can help to offset some of the wildlife habitat that is lost every year to human development.