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Monday, February 4, 2008

Habitat: it is polite to share

By: James Stevenson

Pinellas County is the second smallest and most densely populated county in Florida. In Pinellas County we are reaching build-out, a condition in which virtually no large undeveloped vacant parcels remain (Pinellas County Economic Development). We humans have taken over the majority of habitat for ourselves and have drastically changed most of the state’s natural integrity. We have built homes and businesses on barrier islands and beaches, and we have drained most of the state’s fresh water so that we could use the land for other purposes like farming, livestock, housing, businesses and roadways. But, can you hear Grandma’s voice in your ear saying, “It really is polite to share, dear?” Could you consider creating even a tiny wildlife habitat in your yard?

It really is easy to add a few elements that would provide a few critters the basics for survival. A small pond may attract insect-munching frogs and dragonflies. Native shrubs and flowers often provide nectar for butterflies, and fruit and seed for birds. Worried about rats? How about learning to identify and appreciating our marvelous native snake species that naturally control rat populations? Or how about adding an owl nest box? Providing habitat for a family of owls to live in your yard is a much cheaper and less toxic way to control unwanted rodents and insects than using poisons or chemicals!

There are many ways to attract wildlife to your yard that are easy and attractive. Like Grandma always said, “Share with one another.” Let’s make her proud while improving curb-appeal. Share nicely with all living things—human and wildlife.

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