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How You Can Help to Make a Difference

You can help endangered and threatened species and declining wildlife populations recover through a variety of actions, ranging from learning more about them and making habitat improvements to reporting sightings and participating in surveys. If you'd like to do more, please consider the following actions and considerations. They provide a means to make a difference for species of special concern and for you to take a more active role in helping to conserve declining wildlife populations. Please consider making time and creating specialized habitat to help wildlife. Every progressive step you take helps to improve the future of threatened and endangered species. And right now, these species cannot have too many friends! Get involved. You'll be glad you did.

HABITAT MANAGEMENT

Delay mowing: Waiting until late July to cut hay will greatly improve survivorship of grassland species including upland sandpiper, eastern meadowlark, bobolink and several native sparrows.

Protect large open, grassy areas used by grassland birds for hunting and nesting: There are many ways to preserve your property for future generations. Examples include establishing a conservation easement with a local land conservancy or applying to participate in the Farmland Preservation Program through your local County Conservation District office.

Use best management practices for conservation on your farm or forest: These include being aware of where birds are nesting, raising mowing blades to six inches, delaying mowing or timber harvest between April and August, and not mowing certain areas to maintain protective cover for young birds. Partners In Flight provides internet links to useful resources on this topic. To learn more, go to Partners in Flight's Best Management Practices and select "Grassland Ecosystems."

Protect wetlands: Pennsylvania and America have lost roughly 50 percent of their wetlands since European colonization, so hanging on to what's left and recharging what was drained are always a top priority in wildlife conservation. You can help by supporting initiatives to conserve and restore wetlands on public and private property. The bigger and more complex they are, the better for wildlife. Many wetlands need active management to provide the kinds of habitats necessary to support the resident and transient species of special concern that use them.

Use Integrated Pest Management for controlling insects on farmlands: This specialized management is a targeted, scientific approach to controlling insect pests while minimizing environmental pollution, cost, and labor to the landowner. Prevention of infestation is stressed through the Integrated Pest Program. For more information, contact your local Penn State Extension office.

Private Landowner Assistance Program: This free, voluntary program is designed to provide private landowners onsite technical assistance from a Pennsylvania Game Commission wildlife biologist to learn how to better manage and conserve habitat for species of greatest conservation need on their properties. Contact information for your local Game Commission wildlife diversity biologist can be found online on the agency's Private Landowner Assistance Program page, or by calling your local Game Commission Region Office.

Enroll in the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program, Forest Stewardship, or other programs: The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program has been beneficial to many grassland birds through the planting of warmseason grasses (big bluestem, switchgrass, etc.). If you're interested in learning more about how to better manage your forested lands for wildlife, consider visiting the USDA's Forest Stewardship Program webpage. Learn more about CREP eligibility requirements and other details visit USDA's Landowners and Conservationists webpage.

MONITOR

Get involved in bird watching and conservation organizations: There are many ways you can help Pennsylvania's endangered and threatened birds. Volunteer time to help with bird surveys, lead bird walks, and consider becoming a member of the Pennsylvania Society for Ornithology; a local bird club; or local Audubon chapter.

Contribute observations to Pennsylvania eBird: Contributing to Pennsylvania eBird is a simple way to maintain lists of the species you see as well as helping scientists better understand where these species are found. This is especially true of Pennsylvania's Important Bird Areas. See the Pennsylvania Audubon website for more information.

BE ETHICAL

Don't get too close: It's important to keep your distance from nesting bald eagles and ospreys, as well as egrets and herons. These birds sometimes react badly to disturbances and intrusions. So to ensure your actions won't cause the birds undue stress, be quiet and stay back. It's a proven recipe for success.

Report illegal and unethical behavior: If you observe or hear reports of someone who is disturbing nesting species of special concern, or poaching endangered and threatened species, please report this information to the Pennsylvania Game Commission by contacting the nearest regional office, or through Operation Game Thief.

Don't litter and pick up spent fishing line: Plastic sixpack straps, spent fishing line, old fishing lures and a variety of other discarded items can be deadly to wading birds and other wildlife. Put snack wrappers, empty plastic bottles and birdnests of fishing line in your pocket, and cleanup what others leave. It will have a tremendously positive effect on wildlife and Pennsylvania's outdoors will look better than ever.

CONTRIBUTE

Donate to wildlife protection: Make a donation to Pennsylvania Game Commission to help support wildlife conservation through The Outdoor Shop or buy a hunting license.

Report your findings: If you find endangered or threatened species in places where you suspect they haven't been detected by the Pennsylvania Game Commission — a new eagle nest, wood rat colony, etc. — please report what you know to the your local regional Pennsylvania Game Commission office or through email via the agency's email account at: pgccomments@state.pa.us.

By Doug Gross and Cathy Haffner
Pennsylvania Game Commission
4/7/2010