While development seems to be a fact of life today and most of us can’t do much to stop the encroachment of buildings and development, horse owners actually can do quite a bit to provide wildlife with suitable living conditions. Inviting many types of wildlife into our horse places actually has wonderful payoffs to horse and property owners, as well as for our neighbors and the environment.

Some payoffs include natural insect and rodent control, and low cost/low maintenance landscaping that can double as a dust barrier, wind break, shade, mud management, or a buffer between neighboring uses. Vegetation planted for wildlife also acts as a natural biofiltration system and helps preserve water quality and protect soil. Plus, wildlife is free! As horse and land owners, you and I know that there are few animals we can enjoy that are as low cost and low maintenance as wildlife.

At Sweet Pepper Ranch we recently installed an owl box to help with rodent control in our barn and fields–and because we enjoy seeing raptors around. Our county installed it as part of their non-toxic gopher control program, making it cost-effective for us. This past summer we also worked at planting native plants, creating brush and rock piles, and planting hedgerows.

While it’s winter in most of North America and we can’t plant now, it’s a great time of year to dream and plan. So let’s begin! Encourage wildlife by providing three things: cover, food, and water (Tip: you can also use these same principles to