Wildlife Watch!

Help track wildlife and plant species nationwide by tracking and recording the wildlife in your own backyard! It’s fun, easy and for kids and adults of all ages. Wildlife Watch is an online resource created by the National Wildlife Federation that allows you to share your photographs and stories about the plant and wildlife species that you encounter. In doing this you help the National Wildlife Federation to track the health and behavior of plants and wildlife nationwide. In return you can view submissions from all over the country using their interactive map, get up-to-date news on wildlife and get ideas for creating wildlife habitat in your backyard!

The first step is to visit the Wildlife Watch page on the National Wildlife Federation website. When you enter your state or a state that you will be visiting, you are given a checklist of various plant and animal species that you might encounter. You can also view statistics on the most active zip codes and sightings for various species in your state. The second step is the best one, go out and have fun! Whether you are on a hike or hanging out in your backyard, explore and investigate your surroundings, take notes, photographs and even sketches of the various plants and wildlife you find, large and small. Remember, you don’t have to actually see wildlife to track it. Look for and record signs that they were there, such as trails, tracks, fur, scat, burrows, nests, etc. When you come back return go back to the website and submit your findings, join their Flickr group and submit your photographs as well.

Not only is this a fun activity, it gets people of all ages involved in research locally and on a national level. It gives kids and adults a break from the stresses of our busy, everyday lives by getting outside into the fresh air, getting exercise, relaxing and reconnecting with the natural world that all too often gets ignored. It also helps to educate and develop an understanding of why our environment and everything in it is precious and must be cared for.

Don’t forget, with each new season comes new adventures and new plants and wildlife to discover. Check out the photos above from some of my own adventures.

Blog Author: Kelly Parker, Urban Conservationist

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