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Green snake in grass

They slip soundlessly through our landscapes, cloaked in a rainbow of colors and patterns that help them become one with bark, rocks, leaves and soil. Often the only sign of their existence is what they leave behind: ghostly shed skins imprinted with shapes of eyes and scales, traces of pigmentation...

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BY NANCY LAWSON, AUTHOR OF THE HUMANE GARDENER
Illustration of a mole peeking out of a burrow

While soaking her raised beds in preparation for tomato planting last summer, Gail Goldman was startled to see a tiny, waterlogged creature pop up out of the soil. Later another one briefly poked out his head. “Basically, I was watering shrews,” the Seattle gardener says of her foiled vegetable...

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By Nancy Lawson, author of The Humane Gardener
vole in the grass

To experience the natural world, we often navigate congested highways to swim in the sea, fly over patchworked terrain to hike through preserved forests and climb distant mountaintops to catch rare views. Largely because of our ever-increasing mobility, the areas nearest to us are rarely the dearest...

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By Nancy Lawson, author of The Humane Gardener

The Humane Society of the United States and the Humane Society Legislative Fund are noted champions for the protection and well-being of the nation’s wild horses and burros, and we have strong policy and practical commitments to the humane management of their herds on America’s Western ranges. We...

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Glue boards (also known as glue traps) might seem like a safe solution to ridding your home of uninvited guests of the crawling, flying or scurrying sort, but they are one of the cruelest.

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Snakes instill a deep-rooted fear in many people that few other animals can match. Even other animals seem to put them in a special category; many wild animals recognize snakes as threatening, and some birds and monkeys even have special vocalizations for sounding an alarm when a snake is seen. But...

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Adapted from the book Wild Neighbors
Monarch butterfly in flowers

The suspect creeping up near my front fence was a tough character—broad-leafed and thick-stemmed and threatening to invade my property and swallow it whole if I didn’t act fast. There was no hesitation that summer morning as I headed to work: Off with his head! It was a decision made all too easy by...

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BY NANCY LAWSON, AUTHOR OF THE HUMANE GARDENER

Both red and gray foxes live among us in cities and towns, where scavenging for food makes life easy. They generally avoid people, but the lure of easy food, such as pet food or unsecured garbage, can result in backyard visits. Usually, the best thing to do is leave foxes alone, but here's what to...

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Adapted from the book Wild Neighbors

Thanks to widespread pet vaccinations, effective post-exposure treatment and the relative rarity of undetected bites by rabid animals, the number of human deaths from rabies in the United States caused has declined to an average of only one or two per year—far less than the number of human...

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native seed packets

They were like moths to a flame or, more accurately, butterflies to a native plant. No sooner had I unloaded two joe-pye weed perennials from my car last August than three tiger swallowtails dive-bombed the pots, as if to validate my purchase. If only my fellow shoppers knew what they were missing...

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By Nancy Lawson, author of The Humane Gardener
woodchuck in the grass

It starts out mildly enough: Heading to work on the subway, you realize you forgot your wallet. No big deal, you think. I’ll borrow money to get home. Soon the lights go out and the train hurtles toward the sky, speeding through the atmosphere. Time passes—it’s hard to tell how long. The subway is...

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By Nancy Lawson, author of The Humane Gardener
A frog jumps to safety out of a pool using a ramp to rejoin the other frogs on the safety of the grass

It seemed like a good idea at the time: Buy a house with a two-acre property, let our energetic herding dog have the run of the place and spend blissful summer days digging side by side in the dirt with her. And it was blissful, watching Mattie carve out her napping spots behind the ferns and tall...

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By Nancy Lawson, author of The Humane Gardener
a dog points in a field of grass and wildflowers as a rabbit looks on

Many Marches ago, as I mindlessly contorted myself to pull a deep-rooted weed from the garden patch, my thoughts turned longingly to the smell of fresh basil that would eventually grace what I saw as a still-barren vegetable graveyard. This spot was not so lifeless as it appeared, I would soon learn...

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By Nancy Lawson, author of The Humane Gardener
fat caterpillar curled on a leaf stalk

As my beloved seedlings languished untouched on the display table, I improved my sales pitch: “Would you like a late-flowering thoroughwort to help migrating butterflies refuel? What about an aster that’s the only pollen source for some bee species?” But unlike the animals who would devour these...

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By Nancy Lawson, author of The Humane Gardener

Every day, more and more wildlife habitat is lost to the spread of development. Give a little back by building your own humane backyard! It doesn't matter whether you have a small apartment balcony, a townhouse with a sliver of ground, a suburban yard, a sprawling corporate property or a community...

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baby robin sitting in a nest

Here lies Lucy: expert pilot, supermodel, squirrel eviscerator, custom homebuilder, attentive mother and devoted mate. RIP. If she were human, Lucy might be commemorated this way, her life story etched in granite. She might take her place in a family plot beneath her favorite lookout, a weeping...

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BY NANCY LAWSON, AUTHOR OF THE HUMANE GARDENER
Mother and three kids on a nature walk

We zigzag from tree to tree, seeking refuge under the leaf umbrellas. Drizzle turns to deluge as we dash beneath a tall canopy to plot our escape. The sky booms. My dad takes my hand, and I look up to see if he shares my sense of foreboding. But he’s smiling at me, his eyes twinkling. He says...

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BY NANCY LAWSON, AUTHOR OF THE HUMANE GARDENER
small mouse hiding in brush

The mountain lion known as P-47 survived fires, freeways and hostile ranchers. But in March, the 3-year-old big cat—tracked by California biologists since his kitten days—succumbed to a hidden hazard: an insidious form of food poisoning. Six anticoagulant compounds—chemicals used to kill rodents...

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BY NANCY LAWSON, AUTHOR OF THE HUMANE GARDENER

Opossums get a bum rap: Most problems people think have with opossums are really caused by other animals. But we can help you solve those, too.

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Adapted from the book Wild Neighbors