The District’s Wildlife Program assists landowners in designing wildlife habitat projects. The District will assist in designing shelterbelts, food plots, guzzlers, as well as grass and forb plantings to benefit wildlife. After designing a project the district will work with multiple different organizations to find any possible cost share assistance for the project. Backyard Habitat Program The District’s Wildlife Specialist, Rex Lockman, provides free consultations on improving wildlife habitat in urban settings. The four basic requirements for wildlife are space, food, water and cover. Whether it’s native habitat or urban areas, a great variety and quantity of these four components will promote a greater diversity of wildlife within an urban setting. Space Not all urban properties provide enough space for the requirements of wildlife. The daily activities of many species usually require a larger area than a homeowner’s yard. It’s important that individual homeowners work in a collaborative effort to achieve the goal of increasing wildlife numbers in the neighborhood Food Wildlife utilize two different resources of food in urban settings: natural and artificial. Natural sources are seeds, insects, vegetative plants and berries. To make sure there is a natural food source year round, a variety of shrubs, grasses and food producing trees/shrubs need to be planted. Artificial Foods should only be used when no natural sources are available. There are many pros and cons to artificial feeding. For example, it increases distribution of wildlife species but decreases their wariness to predation. It allows some species to stay in one area throughout the year, but often exposes wildlife to disease because of unnatural crowding and unsanitary feeding sites.When providing artificial foods make sure both the benefits and drawbacks are addressed. Select methods and feeder types that are suited for targeted species and keep the area clean. Water is one of the most important components of urban wildlife habitat. It not only provides a source of hydration, but is also used for bathing and as a place for reproduction of certain reptiles and amphibians. Using anything from an inverted garbage lid to an elaborate pond with a pump for aeration can create water. When creating a water site make sure it is in a shaded area to keep the water cool and close to cover so it provides an escape route from predators. Cover provides security, reproduction, forage and perch sites, as well as thermal protection. Cover can be either live or inert materials. Trees, shrubs, grasses, forbs, and vines are considered live materials. Rocks, brush piles, nesting and denning boxes are types of inert materials. When creating cover with live materials, utilize plant species that will create as much vertical diversity as possible. The more diverse an area, the more wildlife species that the area will attract. When designing a backyard habitat, it is important to have an understanding of the needs of wildlife. The design should be cost effective and wildlife sensitive, so both wildlife and humans benefit. Threatened/Endangered Species Issues The Laramie County Conservation District remains informed on current threatened and endangered species issues that will affect Laramie County landowners. The District’s involvement in threatened and endangered species is only to inform landowners of possible impacts. Current plants and animals of concern in Laramie County include the following: Preble’s Meadow Jumping Mouse – This tiny mouse, only about three inches long but with a six-inch tail, has already been listed as threatened by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. A subspecies of the more common Meadow Jumping Mouse, the Preble’s is rare to begin with and exact numbers are still unknown. Mouse inhabit the same areas favored by humans-streams and rivers with lush streamside vegetation. Current grazing and haying practices are compatible with the mouse’s survival. Colorado Butterfly Plant – This tall showy perennial has white flowers that turn red or pink as they age. The plant is currently listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. The Butterfly Plant is known in only about 25 locations worldwide–all within a small area in Laramie County and adjacent counties in Colorado and Nebraska. Habitat for the plant is streamside sites that are periodically disturbed especially by flooding. Competition from weeds and the indiscriminate use of broadleaf herbicides also pose a threat to its survival. Well-managed grazing and mowing for hay, if done at specific times of the year, are compatible with the Butterfly Plant. Ute Ladies-Tresses – This plant is currently listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. It is known to occur in Laramie, Goshen, Converse and Niobrara Counties. Preferred habitat in Wyoming appears to be low, flat floodplain terraces or abandoned oxbows which are sub-irrigated or seasonally flooded so they stay moist during the summer, and mostly within 50 feet of a small stream. This plant is compatible and seems to benefit from cattle grazing.