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Washington State University

Hidden Highways – Citizen-Scientist: Skill Level Three

Hidden Highways

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CITIZEN-SCIENTIST – Skill Level: Three

Ariel of corridors used by wildlife
Corridors used by wildlife


Hidden Highways


Objective:  Use web based mapping tools and investigation to discover  and assist in repairing potential breaks in wildlife corridors,  “hidden highways.”
Science Skills: Using technology, making inferences, establishing a hypothesis, conducting a restoration experiment
Life Skills:  communicating,   partnering with other organizations

Preparation Activities:
Review Safety precautions regarding wildlife

What You Will Need

Activity 1:  Map Search
Download Google Earth
Enter your zip code then try to zoom in until you can find where you live
Zoom out and examine the area where you are.

Does your neighborhood have opportunities for wildlife to move undetected?
Which kinds of animals are best suited for movement in your area? Which ones would be at a disadvantage?

Moving from a national forest or park boundary towards where you live, where do you identify the earliest interruptions in opportunities for wildlife to move freely?

Visit areas that might be interruptions in animal corridors and look for evidence of wildlife approaching the edges. (Consider doing a few prolonged observation periods.)


Activity 2: Everybody’s Watching!
If the thought of patiently pursing the tracks of elusive animals is too much for the youthful and energetic members of your group, they may respond positively to gathering data on species sightings for one of several collective on-line databases such as the UW Nature Mapping program or the National Wildlife Federation’s Wildlife Watch.

Each program has their own parameters for wildlife reporting so check with the individual sites.


Activity 3: Assist in Corridor and Habitat Restoration
Contact one of the organizations listed in  “It’s All Connected” to find out more about your area and other areas in your area that are have a high priority for habitat conservation, and what you can do to help!

Restorations on public and private lands may be regulated, and working through these organizations will help make sure your project is a success.

Activity 4: Improving your Backyard Habitat

If after several months you are not seeing much evidence of wildlife passing your area, you may want to do a habitat evaluation and consider engaging youth in a few projects that would make the area more hospitable and welcoming to various wildlife.


Additional Resources:
4-H Wildlife Habitat Evaluation Program (pdf)
US Fish and Wildlife Schoolyard Habitat Project Guide (pdf)

Finished this Activity?

Complete this survey


Explore More

WDFW Backyard Sanctuaries

NWF Backyard Habitats

Bird Source

City of Bellingham – Landscaping for Wildlife list of books

Department of Fish and Wildlife

Local Wildlife Areas

UW Nature Mapping


It’s All Connected

“If the environment changes, plants and animals must either move or adapt to the new conditions, or they will die. For example, in winter, some ducks and songbirds migrate (move), rabbits, frogs and many turtles adapt, and insects and weak animals may not survive. If an organism can survive, grow and reproduce under certain environmental conditions, we say that it has adapted to that environment. Adaptations are the special characteristics or features that increase an organism’s chance for survival and reproduction in that particular environment. So when the environment changes, organisms must change with it. If they don’t, they have to move, or they will die.”

Exploring Your Environment,
Eco-Actions Activity Guide,
National 4-H