18 SIMPLE WAYS TO KEEP COASTAL WILDLIFE HAPPY & HEALTHY
(IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER)
Keep Beaches, Wetlands and Waterways Clean - Help keep wildlife safe by keeping or cleaning up our beaches, wetlands, waterways, and the nearby environment and watershed area. Visit Save Coastal Wildlife’s webpage to join a coastal clean-up. Always make sure to properly dispose of your trash, or better yet - reduce, reuse, recycle your trash. Also, keep your lawn, driveway, and neighborhood clean by picking up trash, reducing pesticides and fertilizer use, and checking your vehicle for leaks.
Keep your Butts to yourself - If you still smoke cigarettes (really dude?? that’s a serious health problem that you should get help for), please stop throwing your cigarette butts on the ground, parking lots, and roadways. Since cigarette butts are so small, most people who still smoke don’t think much about their effect on our environment. But the effects of tossing a single cigarette butt are far from harmless. For example, cigarette butts pollute our water, traveling through storm water or storm drain systems to end up in streams, rivers, and the ocean. Coastal wildlife can mistake cigarette butts for food. Plastic pieces from the filter have been found in the stomachs of fish, birds, whales, and other coastal wildlife. This can cause deadly internal injuries, suffocation, and starvation.
Keep Chemicals Out Of The Water - Hazardous chemicals, including pharmaceuticals, gasoline, oil, and other vehicle fluids have been shown to have a negative influence on marine life, such as causing some species to change sex or by causing the death of wildlife. Always keep your vehicle well maintained and properly dispose of your medical waste products.
Always recycle used motor oil - Don’t Toss That Used Motor Oil! Never pour it down a storm drain or into the soil. More than 200 million gallons of used motor oil is improperly disposed of on the ground, tossed in the trash, or poured down a storm sewer or household drain. Instead, place it in a container with a lid and bring it to an auto parts store or other local auto repair shop to keep it out of local waterways and give it a new life.
Forgo Pesticides - People in the United States of America use more than 1.1 billion pounds of pesticides annually, with approximately eight to ten percent of this material being applied to yards and gardens. Pesticides move through a food chain and have been implicated in bird and fish die-offs. They also potentially can cause long-term lethal effects, such as eggshell thinning and neurological damage.
Use Less Fertilizers - Excessive nitrogen and phosphorus from fertilizers can cause red or brown tides. Even if you don’t live close to the coast, rainwater mixes with pollutants, including excessive fertilizers, and flows into storm drains, carrying polluted runoff into a nearby waterway that drains to the coast.
Use Less Plastic - People in the United States of America throw away approximately 100 billion plastic bags every year. Many eventually wash into coastal waterways. Every year floating plastic bags kill thousands of seabirds, sea turtles, and marine mammals, which mistake plastic bags for jellyfish or squid, and then starve to death after filling their stomach with plastics, which don’t digest easily.
Stop Releasing Balloons - All released balloons, including those falsely marketed as “biodegradable latex,” return back as trash to the ground or more likely to the water (since over 70 percent of Planet Earth is made up of water). For example, more than a hundred balloons were collected at Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge in New Jersey at a cleanup, and that’s just the number that made it to this one particular beach. Balloons choke, entangle, trap, and kill countless animals every year. Sea birds, sea turtles and other aquatic animals commonly mistake balloons for food. No matter where you live, inland or along the coast, balloons can travel thousands of miles to pollute. Balloons are also a waste of Helium, a finite resource.
Obey Fishing Regulations - Regulations are in place to make sure people and fish are safe, and there is enough fish for future generations. Please always check your state’s fishing regulations to make sure you are following current laws. All are intended to conserve and improve fish populations.
Handle Fish With Care - If you are planning to go fishing, try catch-and-release. Minimize out-of-water time and handle a fish as little as possible, but always with wet or moist hands to protect the layer of slime on a fish, which helps to keep a fish healthy and sick-free. Click here for current New Jersey hunting and fishing regulations.
Stop Aquatic Invaders - Invasive species displace native species, disrupt ecosystems and harm recreational activities. Please help to reduce the spread of invasive species by never transporting animals, including, fish, shellfish, and plants/algae, from one body of water to another. Also, never dump unused bait or fish carcasses into a waterway. Be sure to remove all mud and aquatic plant material from gear, boots, boat motors, and trailers.
Scoop Your Dog’s Poop! - Animal waste adds nitrogen to the water. Excess nitrogen from many domestic animals depletes the oxygen in water necessary for beneficial underwater grasses, wildlife and fish. In addition, no one likes to step in pet waste and potentially spread it into homes, cars and businesses. It’s easy to clean up pet waste by carrying a few paper towels in your pocket and a paper bag or even a plastic bag (a good way to re-use all those unnecessary plastic bags you received from stores). The bag can be secured and thrown away in the garbage. Cleaning up after your pet is always the right thing to do. Your neighbors, friends, and family will appreciate your good manners.
Be A Green Coastal Resident - Conserve water, reduce plastics and fossil fuel use, and limit waste. Recycle and purchase recycled products, bring reusable bags every time your go shopping, try to take public transportation as much as possible, turn off lights and electronic devices when not in use, don’t waste freshwater, keep the heat low in the winter and use the air conditioner less in the summer. Walk or bike instead of using a fossil fuel vehicle. Save energy, cut carbon emissions.
Always Respect Wildlife - Enjoy the sight of wildlife from afar. Invest in a good pair of binoculars or a spotting scope to get a better view of wildlife without disturbing or scaring animals away. Do not touch, harass, get close to, feed or pick up wild animals. Your actions are stressful to an animal, and it’s possible that the animal may harbor rabies or other diseases. Always respect wildlife from a safe distance and let a wild animal live its life in peace.
Get Outside And Enjoy A Beach, Park or Nature Preserve - Whether you like to fish, hike, bike, boat, bird-watch, kayak, swim, surf, mediate or do yoga on the beach, or another outdoor activity, there is no doubt that coastal living has many recreational opportunities for all ages to enjoy. Get outside, enjoy the coast. Take pictures, leave only footprints.
If You Own A Home, Create A Wildlife-Friendly Yard - Help improve your local environment by creating a safe space for birds, butterflies and other wildlife to rest, relax, and feed. Start by providing the basics: clean water, plants with flowers for nectar, fruit-bearing plants to provide fuel for migration and shrubs or evergreens for cover and thermal protection in the winter, and nesting habitat. Choose native plants to landscape. Native plants require less maintenance including less fertilizer and watering, because they are always adapted to the local environment. Native plants will also provide food and shelter for native wildlife. Add a bird, bat or butterfly house to your yard or garden to attract and shelter specific species. Yards that mimic surrounding natural plant communities not only attract more kinds of birds and wildlife, they could help reverse the loss of urban-suburban biodiversity from poorly planned development.
Become A Naturalist And Promote Science Literacy In Schools And Communities - Study nature around you, get to know the names of the birds, insects, mammals, fish, trees, plants, and other wildlife in your neighborhood. Observe and keep notes of the kinds of different plants and animals you see everyday and their location. Join the Great Backyard Bird Count in February. Pew Research also notes that science literacy is frequently touted as a key to good citizenship. We should represent science literacy in our personal lives. We should also represent pride in our nation’s scientific accomplishments. After all, science helped make America great in the first place. Public interest in science and technology is higher in the US than many other nations, with China as a notable exception.
Get Involved - Why not volunteer with Save Coastal Wildlife to help protect the species that you love along the coast? Visit our contact page to receive more information about ways to get involved.