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February 14, 2011

Student Action: Shoot to Save Wildlife

Promote peaceful coexistence with wild neighbors

  • When coyotes become a problem, it's usually because they're getting food from people. Teaching communities how and why to stop feeding them is a proven solution. Robert Whitney

  • Protecting landscaping and avoiding collisions are some of the main concerns in communities with large populations of deer. Janet Snyder/The HSUS

  • Attracted to food inadvertently left out, black bears are increasingly common in suburban areas. iStockphoto

  • Despite their importance to ecosystems, prairie dogs have long been the subjects of cruel killing contests and poisoning campaigns. Lindsey Sterling-Krank/The HSUS

  • In Pennsylvania's cruel pigeon shoots, pigeons are often wounded and left to suffer. morguefile

  • Where there are Canada geese, there will be droppings, but killing geese is not the answer to this messy problem. Steve Salt

No matter where you live, you have wild neighbors. Many people enjoy the sights and sounds of wildlife, but people and wild animals don’t always get along. Sometimes, conflicts with wildlife are dealt with in ways that hurt or kill the animals.

Prairie dogs, coyotes, rattlesnakes, pigeons, and other animals are killed in round-ups—contests in which contestants compete to kill the most animals for fun and prizes.

Animals like deer and black bears are hunted in areas where there are perceived to be "too many" of them.

Countless other critters, including squirrels, raccoons, skunks, and bats, are killed each year after making their homes in people’s chimneys, attics, or basements; others, like geese, are killed because they disturb lawns or golf courses.

There is a better way! For just about every wild animal problem, there is a safe, effective, and humane solution. Teach your human neighbors that we can live peacefully with our wild neighbors.

1. Get the facts. First, pick a topic or animal and learn all you can about that subject. Do you live in any area where wildlife killing contests (like pigeon shoots, fox penning, rattlesnake roundups, or coyote-calling contests) take place? You can let your community know that these contests are cruel and unnecessary. Check our website and search the internet for more info about it.

If not, see if any wild animals are causing concern in your community. Have flocks of geese taken over parks and public spaces? Are deer destroying landscaped lawns, shrubs, and flowers? Are coyotes or black bears raiding garbage cans?

Even if your neighborhood doesn't have a specific problem, pick any wild animal that is common in your area.

Use the drop-down box on our Wild Neighbors page to get facts and problem-solving suggestions for your selected animal. Other good resources include these articles: Humane Approach to Wildlife Control, Top Ten Problems with Our Wild Neighbors, Choosing a Wildlife Control Company, and Close Encounters of the Critter Kind: An Interactive Guide to Humanely Solving Conflicts with Wildlife.

2. Write to fix a wrong. Write a letter to your local newspaper about the issue or animal you chose. Include what you learned while doing your research. Encourage readers to appreciate their wild neighbors! (Read our tips on writing a letter to the editor first.)

3. Show and tell. Shoot photos of the animals you chose, or print some off the internet. Use them to make posters or fliers about the animal and post them in grocery stores, libraries, vet’s offices, shopping areas, and community centers. (Make sure you get permission first.) You could even set up a display or booth at your school or library, or at a fair, concert, or other community event. Include information and handouts about how to humanely solve conflicts with the animal. Encourage people to appreciate their wild neighbors!

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