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A Talk on the Wild Side.

9 Wild Animals to be Grateful for This Holiday Season

On Thanksgiving we're used to showing our gratitude to friends and family, and this year we're hoping to extend that appreciation to wildlife! With or without knowing it, these species provide us with exceptional benefits and it's time we say thank you.

  1. Pollinators: Food for a feast. Squash bees pollinate pumpkins, which makes tasty holiday pie possible.
  2. Squash BeeThis photo is courtesy of Nancy Adamson and the Xerces Society.

  3. Squirrels: Planting trees. Tree squirrels bury acorns in the ground to store food for winter. The ones they forget turn into oak trees!
  4. Squirrel with AcornThis photo, “Squirrel Acorn” is copyright (c) 2011 niXerKG and made available under a CC BY-NC 2.0 license.

  5. Oysters: Keeping water clean. An adult oyster can filter up to 50 gallons of water per day.
  6. Oyster Bed Close UpThis photo is courtesy of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

  7. Bats: Tequila this holiday season? Lesser long-nosed bats pollinate agave and other cactus flowers.
  8. Lesser Lon-nosed BatsPhoto courtesy of US Forest Servce.

  9. Vultures: Clean-up crew. These birds eat dead bodies of animals, preventing a world covered with decaying carcasses.
  10. Turkey VulturePhoto courtesy of Roy W. Lowe.

  11. Thistle: There are many instances of biomimicry for which we can thank nature for its incredible design inspiration. One particular case is thistle. The prickly seed burrs stick relentlessly to clothing as one walks through. These properties led to the invention of velcro!
  12. Burdock ThistleThis photo, “Pretty Dead Things” is copyright (c) 2007 Ian Muttoo and made available under a CC BY-SA 2.0 license.

  13. Snakes: Many species are beneficial to gardeners and farmers. Garter snakes eat slugs. Gopher snakes and rubber boas eat mice and rats. Sharp-tailed snakes eat Japanese beetle grubs.
  14. Gopher SnakeGopher Snake, Photo courtesy of USFWS.

  15. Sea otters: This keystone species has a major impact on its ecosystem. They eat crabs and urchins to keep the nearshore marine ecosystem healthy and stable.
  16. Southern Sea OtterPhoto courtesy of Lilian Carswell, USFWS.

  17. Wild turkey: This gorgeously awkward bird can be seen at many wildlife refuges across the country. Not to mention it’s the main event for many holiday feasts this time of year.
  18. Wild Turkeys Wichita Mountains Wildlife RefugeThis photo, “Wild Turkey 2 3-7-15” is copyright (c) 2015 Larry Smith and made available under a CC BY 2.0 license.

If you're looking for a way to show your gratitude for conservation this holiday, take the time and purchase a Duck Stamp or Tiger Stamp.

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