Here in California, we’re never too far away from nature; Our idyllic parks and refuges are the crown jewels of the Western US.
What’s more, San Diego has a near perfect climate, 70 miles of beaches, and a stunning variety of landscapes. Our county also has a unique abundance of plants and animals, many of them found nowhere else on Earth. Located within 1 of only 25 “biodiversity hotspots” in the world, ours is the most biologically rich county in the mainland US. However, we’re also home to approximately 200 imperiled plants and animals — the greatest number of threatened species in the mainland US.
We’re in a race against time to save our wildlife.
What threatens our wildlife today?
Our local wildlife is under strain from all sides. Sprawl development has sliced and diced acres of crucial habitat, leaving many critters stranded and disoriented. Raging wildfires and a loss of biodiversity make it hard to find food and support offspring. And as our communities continue to encroach further and further into their territory, some animals are forced to venture into urban areas, resulting in negative human interactions and traffic collisions.
How can we save wildlife in San Diego?
Thankfully, there are many ways to support San Diego’s wildlife. Encouraging multi-use development, retrofitting current infrastructure to be eco-friendly, and conserving our own resources are great ways to get started.
We can also tap into the existing network of organizations devoted to protecting our wildlife every day. These groups have the knowledge and passion to get this job done, from grassroots efforts to big-time lobbyists.
You can also make a big impact just by sharing your love for the wild. Awareness is a crucial part of our conservation efforts. That connection is key — at the end of the day, we protect what we love.
Which organizations help save wildlife in San Diego?
If you’d like to support wildlife conservation efforts in San Diego, we encourage you to follow the work of some of these organizations working on the front lines:
San Diego Humane Society (Project Wildlife)
When wild animals become lost or injured, the San Diego Humane Society is at the ready. This team of staff and volunteers take in injured, orphaned, and sick wild animals to help them start anew.
Project Wildlife is dedicated to wildlife rehabilitation, and is now one of the largest wildlife rehabilitation organizations in the USA.
San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance
The San Diego Wildlife Zoo Alliance works tirelessly to educate the public about conservation utilizing both the San Diego Zoo and the San Diego Zoo Safari Park.
These are more than great field trip destinations; they highlight our love for wildlife, and encourage our communities to care about environmental challenges like climate change, habitat degradation, wildlife trafficking, and more.
Eco San Diego (Save Our Special Species Education Program)
ECO San Diego is home to the Save Our Special Species Education Program, a specialized campaign that offers presentations to schools and other groups to share information on key species in San Diego that are desperately in need of our help. Participants learn about some of our most vulnerable critters, like Burrowing Owls, Golden Eagles, and quino checkerspot butterflies.
This program uses hands-on learning (like teaching children to make their own burrowing owl stuffed animal) to connect even the youngest animal-lovers to our vibrant natural history.
End Extinction San Diego
Our wildlife populations are in real danger, some teetering on the edge of extinction. This is where End Extinction San Diego comes in. This coalition unites organizations across the spectrum, from conservation non-profits to business partners to policymakers, and more.
We work best when we work together, and the End Extinction Program is living proof of this. This program aims to tackle complex challenges by approaching them from all angles and perspectives, resulting in a team that can pool their resources and know-how to solve the problem. This program works hard to protect some of our favorite species, including steelhead trout, the Western burrowing owl, bumblebees, and the monarch butterfly.
To save our wildlife, collaboration is key. The more engaging and inclusive the conversation is, the better!
For Today and Tomorrow
San Diegans are proud stewards of our wildlife. To ensure future generations can continue to love the nature we’ve come to know, we must work to save our wildlife today. What’s more, the health of our wildlife is intrinsically linked to our health, our future, and our identity in San Diego. Want to join the movement? Explore our volunteer options here!
Featured image by Ashley Spratt/USFWS