You may already have a list of resolutions that were started in hopes of causing some new positive changes in your life. Instead of making up your mind to hit the gym more often or quit those nightly snacks, consider including wildlife conservation to broaden your perspective on New Year’s resolutions.
You may be wondering what exactly is conservation? Or what resolutions can you make beyond this question in order to have a positive impact on our natural ecosystems?
Wildlife protection is protecting animal species to prevent habitat deterioration and extinction. Here are specific resolutions that you can use to understand the importance of protecting wildlife while making a difference in the New Year:
1. Learn and practice catching and releasing properly
How you handle your catches can determine whether they will survive to get bigger and reproduce. Correct catch and release is especially important in highly pressurized waterways in order to maintain healthy fish populations.
2. Make an effort to eliminate single-use plastics
Buy a reusable water bottle, bring reusable grocery bags when you go shopping, and skip the plastic items from restaurants instead of reusable bamboo cutlery or flatware. Over 1 million birds die each year from ingestion or entanglement in plastic, but the environmental problems don’t stop there. According to the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, over 100,000 marine mammals are killed annually from plastic pollution.
3. Attend a coastal cleanse near you
Efforts to protect fish and wildlife include maintaining healthy, clean habitats so that wildlife can continue to thrive. Join a local movement to remove litter from aquatic resources and marine ecosystems while helping to change the behavior that causes pollution.
4. Volunteer for nature conservation organizations
For example, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service volunteers in more than 500 shelters and hatcheries across the United States.
5. Learn about the Fish and Wildlife Protection Act of 1980
This law declares that improved conservation and management of fish and wildlife, particularly nongame fish and wildlife, will help restore and preserve fish and wildlife, and ensure a productive and aesthetically pleasing environment for all citizens.
6. Talk about conservation
Share information with your friends and family about protecting wildlife. Encourage everyone you know to join efforts to maintain healthy ecosystems by participating in activities like recycling, planting native trees, and cleaning up our beaches.
7. Take part in the recycling of monofilament fishing line
Improper disposal of fishing line can cause devastating problems for marine life. For example, in Florida, over 40 counties have recycling bins to help reduce fishing line waste in our marine environment.
8. Eat sustainably caught seafood
Before you order the sushi special or the Chilean sea bass, think about where it comes from. Becoming an informed seafood consumer can have a direct impact on reducing the demand for overfished species.
9. Do not pour hazardous substances down the drain or throw them in the trash
Things like paint thinner, furniture polish, and antifreeze pollute our waterways and the environment, affecting both people and wildlife. For more information on how to properly dispose of hazardous materials, see the EPA’s Guide to Safe Disposal of Hazardous Household Waste.
10. Let friends and family know why fishing and hunting regulations are important to protecting wildlife
Government agencies sell recreational fishing and hunting licenses (sales help with conservation efforts) and provide information about seasons, boundaries, methods, and areas that are open or closed.
Pick a few of these conservation resolutions and stick to them for the sake of our wildlife … and next time someone asks, “What is conservation?” or “How can I make a difference?” You have the answers.