According to Environment and Climate Change Canada, 521 Canadian plant and animal species are currently at risk—and the number keeps growing. While recovery strategies are underway for many of these species, preserving our natural environment is something that every citizen can take part in.
Helping Canadian wildlife doesn’t have to mean bestowing your life savings to an animal rescue organization. Instead, it’s as simple as making one of these everyday changes.
Don’t feed animals
While you might think that feeding a chipmunk just one fry is inoffensive, remember that you’re probably not the only one doing it. Animals have the potential to develop a reliance on “people food,” which can result in nutritional deficits and disrupt migration patterns.
Ensure you garbage is inaccessible and unappealing
As adorable as it is when Winnie-the-Pooh gets his head stuck in a honey pot, animals getting stuck in food containers can have devastating consequences in real life. Make sure you wash all jars, tin cans, and other containers before you place them in the bin, which should be sturdy and animal-proof. Another good habit is to keep your garbage and recycling inside until it’s time for pick-up—you avoid mess and unknowingly feeding wildlife.
Don’t take selfies with animals
What may seem like a harmless activity—we know you’re not going to be as aggressive as the tourist in Macedonia who killed a swan—can have far-reaching consequences. Case in point: Tourists taking selfies with turtles has been known to disrupt their breeding patterns, ultimately affecting the population.
Most cigarette butts tossed on the ground end up washed down sewer drains and eventually find their way into lakes. Laden with chemicals, they turn marine ecosystems into a toxic waste dump.
Avoid buying products with plastic packaging
Hundreds of seal lions off the coast of B.C. have become entangled in plastic debris, while birds that ingest plastic waste die from punctured organs or obstructed digestive systems. To avoid adding to the problem, take reusable bags to the grocery store and dispose of packaging properly, including cutting up any six-pack rings before you throw them in the trash.
Don’t use hygiene products with microbeads
As we’ve mentioned before, these non-biodegradable plastic beads are too small to be filtered by waste management systems. As a result, they end up in our waterways—and in the digestive systems of fish and marine life.
Avoid using household products full of harmful chemicals
Fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, and cleaning products often find their way into waterways. They can cause algae blooms, which block out oxygen for fish and kill animals. Other aquatic creatures ingest the harmful substances directly, such as amphibians, who absorb these chemicals through their skin.
Report wildlife sightings
With the ability to take photos on your phone and record GPS coordinates, citizen science has never been easier. If you spot an endangered species or a sick or injured animal, report it to your fish and wildlife department, Ministry of Natural Resources office, animal conservation officer, or National Parks office. Your sighting may help scientists to learn more about the species that they are fighting to save.