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        Human Impact on Wildlife

        Explore human impact on wildlife in this media-rich lesson plan from NATURE. Discover the different ways humans change animals’ habitats and techniques to mitigate some of the negative impacts through videos from the mini-series Animals with Cameras.

        English as a New Language Learners (ENL) supports are included in the Support Materials below. These are designed to support vocabulary development and can be used along with this lesson plan. Click here for a printable version of this lesson plan.

        For more resources from NATURE, check out the collection page.

        Lesson Summary

        In this lesson, students will gather evidence of human impact on habitats and the species that live there by exploring videos from NATURE. They will then use the gathered evidence to construct guidelines for how to mitigate human impact on wildlife.

        Learning Objectives

        • Students will be able to analyze footage of habitats where humans are impacting wildlife for evidence of the type of impact and mitigation approaches.
        • Students will be able to communicate the different ways humans impact wildlife and the best approaches for mitigating detrimental impact.

        Prep for Teachers

        • Arrange to have computer access for students to work individually or in small groups.
        • Upload the Human Impact on Wildlife Analysis handout to Google classroom or another document sharing platform. If not available, download and print the handout.

        Media Resources

        Learning Activities

        Engage

        1. Begin the lesson by posing the question: What are some of the ways you impact wildlife in your neighborhood?
          Further Prompts:
          • Describe what your neighborhood might have looked like before human habitation.
          • How has it changed?

        2. Then, as a class, watch the first video, Extraction of Resources, from the resource Human Impact in the Sagebrush Sea, starting at 0:24 which features how humans are changing the high desert ecosystem. Then watch the second video, Human Impact on Deer Migration, starting at 1:10. Ask students the following questions:
          • How have humans changed the ecosystem of the Sagebrush Sea?
          • How have those changes impacted the wildlife? Which wildlife have been negatively affected? Which wildlife have benefited?

          Tell students that in this lesson they will explore data from several ecosystems to better understand how humans impact habitats and the species that live there.

        Explore

        1. Students will now explore a selection of media that provides context and explanations for how humans have impacted wildlife in seven different habitats.
          • A Surprising Solution to Baboon Farm Raiding
          • Climate Change Contributes to Competition Between Red and Arctic Foxes
          • Endangered Bears Overcrowding Remaining Habitat
          • Guard Dogs Resolving Human and Wolf Conflict
          • Human and Asiatic Lion Interactions in India
          • Orangutan Refugees
          • Urban Foxes: Exploring New Ecosystems
        2. The students’ goal for analyzing the videos of human impact is to better understand human impact on wildlife. In particular they may wish to focus on:
          • Whether the human impact is direct or indirect. For example, in A Surprising Solution to Baboon Farm Raiding the impact is direct: humans are shooting the baboons. In Climate Change Contributes to Competition Between Red and Arctic Foxes the impact is indirect: humans have contributed to climate change and climate change is directly impacting the foxes.
          • Whether the human impact is detrimental, beneficial, or neutral.
          • Different types of mitigation techniques: is the mitigation addressing the symptoms that wildlife are experiencing, or is the mitigation attempting to address the underlying cause of the disruption.
          • Barriers to mitigation, such as human biases, expense, etc.
        3. Divide the class into small groups of four or five students. Have each group divide the seven habitats among its members so each student explores two to three sites. You may wish to assign locations to students to facilitate the process.
        4. Direct students to the handout, Human Impact on Wildlife Analysis. Tell students that their task is to observe the videos of the different habitats and to document evidence of human impact on wildlife and efforts to mitigate that impact, if any. Students should review all the media available for each habitat; some resources have more videos than others.
          If Human Impact on Wildlife Analysis was not uploaded on a document sharing platform, direct students to PBS LearningMedia and instruct them to search for the video titles. All the videos can be downloaded for ease of viewing.
          For this part of the activity, students should explore their habitats individually and fill out the table in Part I of the handout with their observations.
        5. Next encourage students to draw conclusions about human impact on wildlife and mitigation techniques based on the gathered evidence and answer the question in Part II of the handout.

        Explain

        1. Have students come back together as a group to share their response to Part II of the handout and reference observations of different habitats as evidence. They should discuss their explanations and evidence as a group. Guide students towards these answers:
          • A Surprising Solution to Baboon Farm Raiding: The human impact was direct and detrimental. The unsuccessful mitigation techniques, like fences and scarecrows, addressed the symptoms. The proposed mitigation technique of planting ilala palms addressed the underlying cause of the disruption. However, it will only take effect after several years.
          • Climate Change Contributes to Competition Between Red and Arctic Foxes: The human impact was indirect and detrimental to the Arctic foxes and beneficial to the red foxes. There were no proposed mitigation techniques. Students can research techniques to mitigate climate change and discuss how directly that will impact the foxes.
          • Endangered Bears Overcrowding Remaining Habitat: The human impact was indirect and detrimental. The proposed mitigation technique of planting more forest addressed the underlying cause of the disruption. However, it requires relinquishing land, which humans are eager to develop.
          • Guard Dogs Resolving Human and Wolf Conflict: The human impact was direct and detrimental. The proposed mitigation technique of using guard dogs addressed the underlying cause of the disruption. A lack of belief in their effectiveness was the only significant barrier. The footage from the guard dogs with cameras seems to be an effective response to that barrier.
          • Human and Asiatic Lion Interactions in India: The human impact was direct and beneficial. No mitigation was necessary, although as the video discusses this is a recent development.
          • Orangutan Refugees: The human impact was indirect and detrimental. The quarantine mitigation technique addressed the symptoms.
          • Urban Foxes: Exploring New Ecosystems: The human impact was indirect and neutral. No mitigation was necessary.

        Elaborate

        1. Once groups have reached a consensus on effective mitigation techniques they should research other aspects of human impact on the environment that could be mitigated using some of the techniques they’ve explored. Or they can research other cases where the effective mitigation techniques they’ve identified have been applied.

        Evaluate

        1. Wrap up the lesson by having students create a piece of media depicting their mitigation research. The media can be a video, a podcast, an essay, or any form of media the students feel inspired to create. Students can share their media with the class and discuss the challenges and promises of mitigating human impact on wildlife.

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