Wisconsin Wildlife Update: Holiday Gifts for Environmentalists and More

Air Date:
Heard On The Larry Meiller Show

Larry Meiller finds out what’s going on with Wisconsin’s wildlife as winter settles in for good. Plus, gift ideas for the wildlife lovers on your holiday list.

Featured in this Show

  • Gifts Of Time, Gear Are Great For Outdoor Lovers

    The holidays are upon us and whether or not you’re trying to find the right gift for a hardcore outdoorsperson or a casual birdwatcher, there are a lot of great options available.

    David Drake, a wildlife specialist with University of Wisconsin Extension and an associate professor of Forest and Wildlife Ecology at UW-Madison, said he and Jamie Nack, a wildlife outreach specialist in the Forest and Wildlife Ecology department at UW-Madison, have put together several ideas for gifts for nature lovers.

    One suggestion they have is a DNR state park access pass, which will provide year-round enjoyment. For the armchair outdoorsperson, they said people should think about magazine subscriptions to publications like the DNR’s Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine, Wisconsin Outdoor News, Living Bird magazine from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology or others that focus on that person’s particular interests.

    Membership to a conservation group is both a gift to the recipient and necessary support for the organization, they said. Nack and Drake suggested the Wisconsin Society for Ornithology, Wisconsin Wildlife Federation, Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin or other species specific conservancy organizations.

    Just about everyone enjoys watching birds up close and bird feeders, houses and baths are some of the best ways to draw them in. Nack noted that a nice bird feeder, especially a squirrel-proof model, makes a great gift. And with seed prices staying high, a large bag of seed would also be worthwhile.

    Birds aren’t the only ones that benefit from a dwelling. Bat houses make a great gift for a homeowner with a place to install it and also provide much-needed protection for Wisconsin’s beleaguered bats, they said.

    Another great gift for a landowner would be a trail cam, which captures still or video images of wildlife that passes in front of it. Drake cautioned that they can be a pretty high ticket item though so they said save that for a very special gift.

    Other aids for animals and bird-viewing are binoculars and spotting scopes. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology just published a helpful guide to choosing the right binoculars by use and budget.

    Wildlife identification guides — whether visual and audio — are also great gift ideas, and there are many great guides to choose from. Drake also suggested apps for smartphones that help people identify the birds, mammals and other creatures they may come across. They also offered a word of warning: apps and audio guides that play the call of animals or birds shouldn’t be used in the field. Users should wait to listen to them back in the car or at home to avoid upsetting or confusing wildlife.

    Young people don’t usually need much persuading to get interested in the outdoors and animals. But Nack suggested going to a bookstore and really checking out the wildlife books, animal ID resources, games and activities for young people to make sure they are high quality and accurate.

    Of course, for many people, the gift of time spent with friends and family is the best. And happily, there are some easy and fun opportunities coming up soon.

    The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources encourages people to enjoy the state’s great parks and natural areas. One way is on a “First Day Hike.”

    Observed this year in all 50 states, First Day Hikes give people the opportunity to not only explore natural areas, but to learn from a park ranger or volunteer who leads the group outing.

    In Wisconsin, First Day Hikes are taking place in nine state parks and natural areas:

Episode Credits

  • Larry Meiller Host
  • Judith Siers-Poisson Producer
  • Jamie Nack Guest
  • David Drake Guest

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