January 26, 2010
Campus Project: Shoot to Save Wildlife
Your Mission: Raise awareness on your campus or in your community about wild animals and how to live peacefully with them.
Why? No matter where you live or go to school, you’re sure to have wild neighbors. Deer, geese, skunks, raccoons, bears, pigeons, crows, coyotes… These are just a few of the animals who live and thrive near humans. Though many people enjoy the sights and sounds of wildlife, people and wild animals don’t always get along. Sometimes, conflicts with wildlife are dealt with in ways that hurt or kill the animals.
Pigeons have been poisoned because of the droppings they leave outside of restaurants and other businesses. Prairie dogs, coyotes, rattlesnakes, and other animals who are perceived as pests are killed in round-ups—contests in which contestants compete to kill the most animals for fun and prizes. Hunts are held in places where they are claimed to be "too many" of a certain species, such as deer or black bears. Countless other critters, like squirrels, skunks, and chipmunks, are killed each year after making their homes in people’s chimneys, attics, or basements; others, like geese and moles, 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.
How? Take pictures of the wild animals on your campus. Pick an animal, then hang posters and hand out fliers letting people know how to humanely solve conflicts with that animal. Just follow the steps below.
1. Get the bear facts. Are there any wild animals causing conflicts on your campus? How about in your town? Have flocks of geese taken up residence on the athletic fields? Are herds of deer munching on landscaped lawns, shrubs, and flowers? Often, the first response to these problems is to arrange for the animals to be killed. However, these quick fixes never solve the problem. In fact, hunting often makes it even worse, since animals compensate for the population decline by reproducing more. Learn all you can about the animal and look for lasting, humane solutions to the problem at hand. Inform people of humane methods of preventing common conflicts.
If there isn’t a community-wide problem for you to focus on, choose any animal that is common in your area. Are there any wild animals with a strong presence on campus who students interact with? Teach people the four L’s of watching wildlife: Look. Listen. Learn about them. Leave them alone. Inform your community about the animal’s natural habitat and needs. Discourage students and faculty from feeding wild animals, as this can make not only the animal sick, but also disrupt their natural behaviors and create a dependency on humans. This dependency can these animals vulnerable to pranks and attacks.
Also, consider talking with the university administration about putting up signs telling people not to feed wild animals.
2. Start spreading the news. Make posters and fliers about the animal you chose. Take photos (check out our wildlife photography tips) or print them from the Internet. Include interesting facts about the animal and suggestions for preventing and solving common problems with that animal. Make sure you let people know where to turn for advice by including a website (such as humanesociety.org/wildlife). Hang your posters around campus. Get permission first; you don’t want your hard work taken down because of a technicality!
3. Write on. Write a letter to your campus newspaper or create a PSA for your radio or television station about living peacefully with wildlife. Include all the information from your posters. Encourage readers to appreciate their wild neighbors! Write to your elected officials in Congress. (Find contact info for your representatives at humanesociety.org/leglookup.) Ask them to introduce and support bills that protect wildlife. For a list of current federal and state bills that have the ability to affect wildlife, visit our section on wildlife legislation.
4. Tell us about it. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Send us your photos, posters, fliers, and letters. We'll send you an HSUS hat (like the one in the picture above) and we may feature your work on our fan page!