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Respecting your Local Wildlife

By Caroline LaBorde, Minnesota Valley Field Crew Member / AmeriCorps Member

 

Midnight Raccoon snack, the tent did not survive

Disrespecting animals is a one-way ticket to a horrible, no good, very bad day. This is something many of us were taught growing up, maybe through old Ranger Rick magazines or maybe through the more recent animal initiatives being pushed in national parks to better protect us and them. Now I know that I’ve heard many things about wildlife and -for an example- why it is very bad to feed them. I’ll try and make this interesting for you; do you know how much of the animal population has become dependent on human trash? If you go online and look up research, there are pages and pages of opinion pieces that catch your attention before any real information comes at you. Now this doesn’t seem like something that would be important, right? It’s a crazy thought to consider that we, as consumers of natural resources through camping, hiking, or tours, could affect an entire food web to the point of dependency on that intervention.

Lake Independence at the mid-year retreat

As we come into these next few months before winter, this will become an issue more than ever as the urban interface can become flooded with hungry animals hunting for scraps they know will be around people’s homes. In 2019, the Center of Biological Diversity recalls that some 1.6 billion tons of food were sent to landfills or transferred around the world as trash. That’s enough food to feed a small country! Across the globe, 17% of total food production went wasted in 2021, with 61% coming from households (World Economic Forum, 2021). Now, this is not to say that some families or homeowners don’t live as eco-friendly as they can, because there are more campaigns then can be counted to counteract food waste in the home. Some things that can be done to mitigate this in the short-term around your home include reducing excess consumption of produce; where do you get vegetables and fruits for the week? If your family have issues with clearing out leftovers, go online and find combination meals; where you make two recipes out of the same dish to refresh it the day after!

There are so many things today that we just don’t think about and take for granted; garbage companies and accessibility to anything being some of the things that make the most impact. So, the next time you go to take out your trash and see all the veggies that got forgotten on the back of the shelf, think about what you can do next time to make sure you don’t have raccoons running wild in your yard.

A Blue-Tailed Skink from the Rapids Lake North prairie restoration

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