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Do Something Wild In Your Backyard!

Carrie T. Stevenson
Florida Yards & Neighborhoods Agent
Escambia County
ctsteven@ufl.edu

Are you a wildlife enthusiast? With over 1,200 types of animals in Florida, the odds are you have creatures living in your backyard besides pets. The Florida Backyard Landscapes for Wildlife Program is designed for homeowners interested in creating more backyard wildlife habitat. Participants in the program complete an application listing specific actions taken to attract animals, such as planting food sources or providing houses or cover, along with the types of animals typically observed. The application also includes a rough sketch of the landscape design showing locations of feeders, nectar plants, water sources, and other features. Once approved, individuals can have their yards certified as an official wildlife habitat from IFAS Extension, and receive a certificate and a yard sign stating, “I did something WILD in my yard!”

Gopher tortoises are on the Florida endangered species list, and are typically found in upland pine flatwoods or coastal dunes. Their large burrows also provide habitat for other animals. Photo Credits: Carrie T. Stevenson, Brooker Creek Nature Preserve--2009

At any point, participants can request information from their local horticulture or natural resources Extension Agent on the best way to design and maintain wildlife habitat. For an application, contact your local Extension Office or visit the Wildlife Extension website at http://www.wec.ufl.edu/extension/landscaping/fblw/ for more information.

For bird lovers, the Florida Public Bird Watching Program may be of interest. This program allows participants to enter bird survey data on a public website, helping homeowners and researchers keep track of migrating and resident species throughout the year. The information can help property owners attract particular species and create more ecologically sound landscapes. Bird surveys may be submitted from anywhere in the state, including parks, yards or neighborhood common areas. For more information, visit http://bird.ifas.ufl.edu.