As human activities spread out across the landscape, Defenders is working with local communities to prevent potential conflicts with wildlife.
Reducing Conflicts Between Humans and Wildlife
Wild animals find their way into our communities for two primary reasons: attraction to potential food sources and loss of natural habitat. Defenders is devising new ways to reduce wildlife attractants, keep wildlife safely away from areas where they might become a source of conflict with people and assist people in living responsibly with wildlife. Here are just a few examples of how we’re helping:
- Defenders launched a pilot project in 2010 with the World Wildlife Fund to provide polar-bear-resistant food lockers to a coastal community in Alaska. Feedback in 2013 will inform future design for these food lockers. In 2012, we also co-hosted an international polar bear deterrent workship with the Alaska Nanuuq Commission, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and the World Wildlife Fund to share polar bear deterrent tools and technniques with Alaska Native leaders from 12 communities and Russion polar bear patrol participants who are experiencing increasing interactions with polar bears due to loss of sea ice.
- In Florida, Defenders has helped purchase bear-proof dumpsters in areas with garbage attractants that regularly drew black bears. We have provided funding to hobby farmers for fencing and helped fund and construct enclosures to protect small livestock and pets from panthers and other predators.
- We’ve worked with other conservation groups and the state of Montana to help purchase wildlife-friendly fencing to keep wild bison out of people’s yards in Gardiner Basin, while still allowing other wildlife, such as pronghorn and elk, to move through the landscape.
- In Kansas and South Dakota, we helped landowners conserve prairie dogs by creating buffer zones of tall grass to keep prairie dog colonies from expanding onto neighboring properties where they are not wanted.
- In grizzly bear country, Defenders has helped purchase electric fencing and bear-resistant dumpsters, and we have supported “aversive conditioning” to teach bears to keep their distance from humans. We provide campgrounds with bear-resistant trash cans and loan electric fencing kits to guides, outfitters and landowners. And we have installed poles or bear-resistant food lockers for hunters, hikers and campers to safely hang or store their food out of reach of bears.
Continue Reading: Promoting Tolerance and Appreciation of Wildlife » 
Promoting Tolerance and Appreciation of Wildlife
Reducing wildlife conflicts isn’t just about making the wildlife go elsewhere. It’s also about helping people recognize the value of our natural heritage and how they can live safely near wildlife.
- Defenders organizes and hosts a variety of events throughout the year to teach people how to coexist with native wildlife. These include annual events like Florida’s Black Bear Festival, 2011’s weeklong scavenger hunt in Tucson called “Where’s El Lobo?” to raise awareness about the plight of Mexican gray wolves, and regular community meetups.
- Defenders has many outreach programs to help people understand the benefits and responsibilities of living in wildlife country. These include:
- Leading community outreach events
- Frequent interviews with our experts in local, regional and national media outlets
- Creating TV, radio and online public service announcements
- Delivering presentations to schools and other community organizations
- Producing and distributing a wide variety of educational materials for the general public, such as fact sheets about different species and tips on how to live, work and spend recreation time safely in wildlife country.