The headline caught my attention the moment I saw it last month:
What?! I used to live in Colorado, and I fell in love with the cute, social prairie dogs scurrying here and there along the side of the road. I understand that property owners and ranchers out west are not a fan of these critters because of the damage they do by burrowing. They’re just so fun to watch, though! That’s why when I saw that headline on my morning news feed, I had to read more.
Apparently, those adorable creatures are pretty brutal to ground squirrels. They kill them so they don’t have to compete with the squirrels for food. This is particularly interesting because prairie dogs aren’t killing the squirrels to eat them. On the contrary, prairie dogs are herbivores. The fact that they kill ground squirrels not for sustenance but to decrease competition for food caught scientists off guard. That’s not what they expected to find when they studied these animals.
I know the prairie dog example is a gruesome one, but it shows that we’re constantly learning more and more about the wildlife with which we share the earth. Wildlife knowledge is useful in many ways, from pest control to protecting endangered species, from economic advantages to aesthetic ones. The more we learn about wildlife, the more we learn about our own species, too.
There are many ways to introduce our families to wildlife knowledge and wildlife conservation. The following activities come from the National Wildlife Federation:
- Conduct a Creature Survey
- Make a Butterfly Garden
- Practice moving like the animals
- Create a woodpecker cafe
- Discover how treefrogs stick to trees
- Explore wildlife around a pond or lake
- Play doggone games to learn more about the family pet
- Learn more about owls
Wildlife education group Black Snake Productions highlights well the importance of sharpening our wildlife knowledge:
Teaching wildlife conservation through fun and interactive education can be an amazing experience for children. It teaches a child about the awareness on sustainability and the damage to native animals and the environment. As well, teaching kids about wildlife conservation ensures that our beautiful country and its matchless wildlife will be preserved for future generations.
Fortunately, improving our wildlife knowledge isn’t difficult. How many different birds, animals, and insects will you see today? Take a few minutes to Google that bird sitting in the tree or learn more about your family cat. Can you imagine our world without these creatures?