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Why do we see lots of wildlife in some areas of Washington and different kinds of or little or no wildlife in other areas?

You can answer this question by thinking about what you and your own family need to survive. Write down the three most important things you need to survive.

Buck and doe in the wild

You and your family probably have a television set or a radio. You also might have a car or a truck. You might even have a boat, a bicycle, or a skateboard. All of these things are nice to have, but you don’t need any of them to survive! The three most important things you and your family need to survive are: Food, Water, and Shelter. You can live without a skateboard or a television set. You cannot live without food, water, and shelter.

A house, an apartment, a trailer, or a cabin can provide basic shelter for you and your family. You can stay drier and warmer in shelter than you could if you were outside 24 hours a day. You also need enough space to avoid overcrowding.

Map showing distance between shelter, food, and water

What’s the problem with the arrangement of food, water, and shelter in this drawing?

Take a look at the map on the left. Suppose your shelter was two miles from the nearest water and two miles from the nearest source of food. Would you and your family find it convenient to walk two or four miles every time you wanted food or water? Probably not. You might like your shelter, but eventually you would decide that walking in two different directions for food and water was not such a good idea!

For you and your family to survive, you need to have the food, water, space, and shelter we talked about above. But the food, water, and shelter must be fairly close to each other; otherwise, you will spend too much time and effort walking from shelter to food, from food to water, and from water to shelter. Therefore, the arrangement of the food, water, and shelter is also important for you and your family.

It’s just the same with wildlife. Without food, water, space, and cover (shelter) properly arranged, little or no wildlife will live in an area. The habitat for wildlife must include food, water, cover, and space, all correctly arranged.

Good habitat provides healthy wildlife populations. Poor habitat means little or no wildlife!

Wildlife Habitat = Food + Water + Cover + Space + Proper Arrangement

Deer drinking water from lake

Different animals have different habitat requirements. The wildlife habitat in your area may be good for pheasant, but it might not be suitable for deer or elk. Often, you can see different animals sharing the same habitat. Remember that the number of animals will depend on how good the habitat is for that species. All animals need good quality habitat in order to survive!

Good Habitat = Healthy Wildlife Populations

How good is the wildlife habitat in your area? Has it changed in the past few years?