In September 2017, the U.S. Virgin Islands and much of the Caribbean was hit by two Category 5 hurricanes, Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria, within a two-week period. St. Croix Environmental Association realized that in addition to people needing support for survival after the hurricanes, much of the wildlife was fighting for survival as well. We learned a lot of lessons about simple actions that everyday citizens can take to help wildlife survive the aftermath of hurricanes. Although we are still learning about the long-term effects of the storms, we created a series of videos to help our community support birds, bats and bees during and after future storms. Our hope is to take the lessons learned from the storms of 2017 and share them with others so we will all be better prepared for the next storm.
Although native wildlife has evolved to recover from hurricanes, many species are already facing other human-caused threats that compromise their natural ability to recover from hurricanes. The goal of the actions described in these videos is to help mitigate the pressure from the combination of all these threats. As a bonus, we found that many people really enjoyed the mental health benefits of helping wildlife after a hurricane. Bird feeders and hanging fruit provided much needed entertainment and positivity. It also gave many people a new love and appreciation for local wildlife. Although many of these hints are focused on hurricane recovery, they can also be applied to other times when wildlife faces severe threats, such as during droughts.
SUPPORTING WILDLIFE AFTER A HURRICANE
Hummingbirds, Bananaquits, Doves, fruit-eating bats, bees and other pollinating insects all struggle to eat after a hurricane.
The most dangerous time for animals is not necessarily during the storm, but after the storm when their food sources have been diminished.
WAYS YOU CAN HELP WILDLIFE BEFORE AND AFTER THE STORM
Prepare ahead of time by planting native plants and fruit trees.
Palm trees are especially great as they maintain their flowers even after the storm, which many birds and bees flock to
Put together a wildlife kit, including:
Small waterproof tub to store your supplies
Sugar to make nectar
Quick growing herb and wildflower seeds, such as basil, cilantro, and zinnias
Rope and/or twine for hanging your bird feeder and fruit for bats
Keep the environment clean by removing trash (starving animals may try to feed on trash) and minimize pesticide use.